Draw Blood is the sequel to Blood Red, a horror novel about an alien invasion where a mysterious "Red Light" kills the majority of the human population overnight and then re-animates their corpse as slow-moving bizarre-acting creatures. It starred a young woman named Rachel who awakens to the disaster and is forced to kill her stepmother before doing her best to rescue her comatose father from certain death.
Draw Blood picks up immediately after the first novel when Rachel is forced to kill her someone close to her that may have recovered from being a zombie. This time around we switch from Rachel to Michael, her father, and follow him as he wakes from his coma into the horrific new world which awaits him. How does he react to the death of his wife? How does he react to the end of the world? How does he cope to the dramatic changes in his daughter?
Pretty well actually.
Michael is an individual who doesn't panic despite the majority of horrible things which have happened to the world and there's a few places this serves to the book's deterrent. For example, I expected a much stronger reaction when he discovers his daughter's role in the "death" of his wife because human feelings are irrational. It doesn't matter if it wasn't her fault or that he's a good person, human emotions are not rationale. I also would expect him to have a breakdown at least once at the apocalypse since he doesn't seem to have the kind of inhuman resolve his daughter possesses.
Despite this, I really liked Draw Blood.
The book is an excellent follow up to the previous events while capable of being read without the original edition. While the plot of Blood Red was fairly complex, Draw Blood manages to explain all of the salient points without ever falling into exposition or retreads. Michael's newcomer status and bewildermeant are handled well, showing him as he tries to deal with the fact everything he previously believed in is now irrelevant. One subplot I would have liked expanded on more was the fact Michael was an embezzler and criminal who now finds that all of the material things he devoted his life to are irrelevant. I also liked the fact he was an adulterer on his dying wife, a fact his daughter never learns, which adds shades to the otherwise perfect figure which Rachel had in her head in the previous books.
Ironically, it is the characterization of Rachel I enjoyed most during this book. Having survived the absolutely horrific circumstances of the first novel, Rachel has established herself as the leader of the hospital survivors but events have worn down her resolve to the quick. She's desperate to cling to the idea the zombies can be "healed" of their condition. This flies in the face of basic survival even as there's just enough hope given by events that she clings to every little bit of it until there's none left.
There's some stand-out moments which I quite enjoyed, like when they finally sit down to talk about the various possibilities for the event's origin only to come up with a bunch of contradictory nonsensical theories. I also liked the fact Michael dismisses the idea of a supernatural explanation and his pride at raising his daughter without atheism, only for his daughter to start talking about God. The cluelessness of Michael about his daughter's beliefs felt very true to life.
The climax of the novel is one which resolves the plotline of Michael in an emotionally satisfying and interesting way, even touching, but I'm still certain there's more to come from the Blood Red universe. I hope the next book will pick up with Rachel and I'd be interested in seeing some sort of happy ending or emotional recovery for her. That's a bit strange for a thing to be asking for from a zombie horror novel, sci-fi or not, but I've come to really like her character as well as other survivors.
While not as good as Blood Red, Michael just not able to match Rachel for being a strong protagonist, it's still a pretty good post-apocalypse horror novel with a twist. I would have liked a bit more irrational emotion from Michael and the survivors but this is a small complaint in the grand scheme of thing.