Author: Lisa Henry & Heidi Belleau
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
*They’re always happy.*
Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.
So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.
If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
“Protectionist. Elistist. Creepy perfect. A lot of people said a lot of sneering things about Beulah. But Beulah was also safe.”
First things first, I’m taking out Mr. Lowell. And I’m going to make it look like an accident. It’s a kindness really. What he deserves is for me to shove him off a cliff into a pit of naked, writhing, horny and sadistic women. Hmmm… on second thought.
Let’s talk about this book. THIS BOOK. ARGH! Anything that elicits homicidal tendencies, anxiety AND laughter from me deserves a read. BUT, heed the warning, people. If non-con isn’t your thing… you’d best skedaddle.
But in Beulah, everything was different. Everything was simpler and more complicated at the same time.
Have you ever had a pot of really beautiful flowers that you had to move for whatever reason and when you picked up the pot there were slugs and creepy crawlers underneath? That’s Beulah. It’s lovely at first glance, but take a closer look and EEEEEEEE. I kept picturing Pleasantville in my head and that’s what made it not just regular “yuck” creepy but WHAT-IN-HOLY-FUCK creepy. There are so many things that are sooooooo right about Beulah, but this whole system of “rezzing” someone is twisted, abhorrent and corrupt, tainting the whole community.
Basically, if you are accused of a crime, just accused, you’re for all intents and purposes railroaded into seven years of servitude and chipped to make you “like” it, need it even and if you don’t provide that service with gusto, glee and zeal there will be pain, excruciating, mind-numbing pain that you’ll do anything to assuage, debased and humiliating things. Wanna know what the alternative is? Lifetime servitude. Oh, you can choose a trial but there’s a 99.9% chance you’ll lose and get life. So, you take the seven, right? Problem is there’s still a part of you, the real you, in there that’s locked away in a glass cage, screaming, crying and silent. Good times. shudders
Bliss is an emotional roller-coaster. If we’re friends on GoodReads, my status updates will confirm as much. I spent a good deal of it reading it with my hands on or near my head in some way-peeking through fingers, clenched fists, biting a nail, on top of my head. It was a work out. It might even count as a work out? Yes? Never mind, rhetorical question. Aside from all my feels, there are some truly compelling insights on government corruption and the oftentimes cruel nature of humans given the right set of circumstances.
“If you can’t trust what the government says now, how can you trust anything they’ve ever said?”
Tate, Rory and Aaron have been through a war together and forged those sorts of bonds that will last a lifetime. Of this I have no doubt; however, the focus of Bliss is Tate and Rory, though Aaron made for a charming secondary character. Tate and Rory’s relationship development was gradual. Let’s face it, it developed under some rather unusual circumstances. There were times when I felt “it” and times when I leaned more toward the friends side of the spectrum. I think it could’ve done with little more progression. At the end of the day, they were fleshed out well and their individual personalities shown through which is what I like best about these authors; they individualize their characters, give them their own voice, sometimes they are humorous, sometimes pensive and sometimes they’ll break your heart, usually all of the above. That’s what makes me continue to read their writez.
“This kissing shit is nice, but it’s for schoolgirls.”
There are two things that I’m still puzzled over. Why did Tate punch Rory in the first place? This just never gels cohesively for me. The rationale seemsflimsy. The worldbuilding of the world outside Beulah could’ve been developed better. I’m not asking for loads of expansion, maybe a paragraph or two to tell me why the outside world such a seemingly dystopian society whilst Beulah is such a “utopia”? How did this happen? Does Tophet comprise the entire outside world or are there other communities, sectors, countries?
Bliss isn’t for everyone, and I won’t hold it against you if you pass. It does have a generally hopeful message and no cliffhanger! I’ve been waiting for Bliss for what feels like FOR-EV-VER and I wasn’t disappointed. So, if non-con doesn’t squick you out or you like Belleau and/or Henry, you’ll enjoy Bliss.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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