If love were like a form of religion, and persecuted as many religions have been throughout history, what would the world be like? Would we have small pockets of dissenters, those who continue to allow love into their lives and the lives of their friends and family?
In Blood For Love by Chris M. Finkelstein, this question is not abstract. In his fantasy world, built on a violent planet and peopled with lizard like beings known as D’olian we follow the differences of discipline vs. love. This is an interesting and thought-provoking story that follows a world where war has destroyed all but one species. Love has been outlawed and if discovered is punished by DeathBT, or Death by Torture.
Rigorous study on the subject has found that procreation and the young have a stronger survival rate when surrounded by a loving environment. In order to maintain the growth of their race, love is allowed for the first five years of life. After five years, the children attend a brutal deprogramming camp with dire consequences for those who cannot be turned. The brutality and mind control leave many so disturbed they will never be the same, and suicide and murder often follow. The percentages of those who do survive make the program successful — so it continues.
The mothers must also attend a camp. Torture and other brutal and nefarious methods are used to create the angry, frustrated and cowed women who are preferred by the government of this planet. In extreme cases, brutal rape is used to get the compliance that is expected.
Blood For Love is the story of a young man and his family and friends as he makes his way through life, belonging to the underground Lern (Love’s Epiphany Requirement Network) and also known by the epithet of Love-lovers. The ruling party is known as NOV or Nation of Vengeance. Now a part of the Governments rule for hundreds of years, the NOV were instrumental in destroying the other races and poisoning the planet.
There is a bigger reason for the birth of Jan, he is slated for bigger and brighter things, but only if he can overcome the deprogramming and find a way to beat the NOV. He is just an odd young man on his own; can he turn the tide and save those who believe in love? Can this group of reptilian humanoids overcome their violent nature and rebuild their world?
Jan does not fit of mold of the common D’otain. He is kind and considerate. He is as tall as the usual D’otain, but he is long and lean. His crest is also very unusual and a figure of fun for years as a youngster. Very slow to anger, he is the opposite of his race, and as such, he is often beat up and injured. This is a story of a family in crisis. We are along for the ride to learn if and how they escape the binds.
Finkelstein has created some interesting and unique characters. They are both brutal and yet civilized, capable of running a government and at the same time capable of murdering those like them, whose beliefs of love go against the ordinance. Intermixed with the brutality and violence, there is a peace loving faction of Love-lovers that will stop at nothing to prove their rights.
The story is interesting and yet extreme. The sequences leading up to the end keeps you turning the pages in disbelief. It gives us an understanding of being in a different world where normal is not the culture, and anger and brutality rule the planet. It is strange and yet fascinating, and Finkelstein’s race of humanoids are quite distinct.
If you like adventure and love, twisted and weaved with brutality, rape, cruelty, fanaticism, and torture, you will find Blood For Love is up your alley. Even after reading it, I am sure it will stay with me. It is both disturbing and yet full of heroics, an emotional roller coaster that will have you wondering where it will all end.