Blood Tide is the second book in the Aquarius Rising series by Brian Burt
When it comes to post-apocalyptic novels and dystopian fiction, I am often up to give anything a try. I have become more critical though, as the genre has become more popular. It’s like anything; the more people who are doing something, the more examples you have and the more it becomes clear who has a gift for storytelling, who has an imaginative approach, or who can take an old idea and spin it in a completely new fashion. I find I have decreasing patience with story lines that are just about beans, bullets, and bandaids. That’s just so Y2K.
With all that said, in Blood Tide, Brian Burt takes post-apocalypse and dystopia to an entire new place – almost a new world. Except… it’s still our world.
In Blood Tide, the planet earth would likely be difficult to process for many of us. There are multiple sentient species populating the planet. Some have always been here (but, perhaps we couldn’t communicate with them…?). Some are genetically engineered, a sort of bio-hybrid between human being and cetacean creatures. Some are what we (now, in the early 21st century) would call “artificial intelligence,” and others… I don’t think we have a classification for them now.
All of this has come about through efforts to adapt to a world being destroyed. Previous to this volume of the ongoing story, the planet underwent radical shifts due to climate change – the polar caps are gone, the water level world-wide has risen, and many land areas have succumbed completely to desertification. The Aquarians, the human-cetacean hybrids, were artificially developed specifically to adapt to these climate conditions. Other humans saw this as an abomination, and attacked the Aquarians in a horrific way, resulting in retaliation.
The opening of Blood Tide finds all of these events in the past, with the Aquarians attempting to recover and to continue to build in their current peace. However, one powerful bio-sculptor remains wracked with grief over the death and loss of his mate and child, and plots an unimaginable revenge on the dirt-swimmers. As his plan comes to fruition, it becomes completely clear that he is willing to sacrifice anyone – humans, Aquarians, and any life above or below the sea, to take his revenge.
His genius causes the two sides to come together, to cooperate in working together to foil his plot and save both land and sea dwellers. Along the way, each side struggles mightily – holding back information sometimes through fear, sometimes thinking if the truth were learned, it would just make everything worse. It is a very difficult path, and makes joining forces all the more challenging.
This book was amazing. Burt’s capacity for world creation is outstanding. There were times when the book felt like a slow read – but it really isn’t. It’s just that there are so very many details about the world below the waves that must be described. The vast majority of the story takes place under water, and it is necessary for us to understand the environment in which most of the action occurs, before we can understand the action itself.
I was also impressed with Burt’s imaginative ideas about biosculpting, or what we might call species manipulation. Over and over, throughout the story, we see examples of creatures altered in stunning, horrifying, and amazing ways to serve the needs of the plot. While it was a fascinating mechanism, and one that causes one to ponder the potential applications in real life, I felt that the story conveniently glossed over the impact of the altered creatures on the environment aside from meeting the immediate need of a character or plot line.
Finally, while Blood Tide is clearly a book between two other books, and serves as a bridge between the two, it is also a solid, stand alone story in which one fully appreciates the world, the characters, and the ties that bind then.
Aquarius Rising Book 2: Blood Tide is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.