From the moment I heard about The Blood Race, I was ready to go. Take my money; I wanted the book.
The very first thing I noticed was that it was by one of the Emmons sisters, both of whom are big influencers in the blogging community. I am a huuuuge fan of both Abbie and Katie’s blog… so when I found out about Katie’s book, I bought it. Then I read it. Then I loved it so much, I sat down and wrote a review.
I rated The Blood Race four stars, and I’m going to spill the tea on first what made me want to give it five stars, and then why it didn’t quiiiite make it there. This is 100% spoiler-free, so if you haven’t read it yet you’re still invited to this squee-filled review! Let’s get started, then!
All Ion Jacobs ever wanted was to be normal. But when you’re capable of killing with your very thoughts, it’s hard to blend in with the crowd.
Running from his past and living in fear of being discovered, Ion knows he will never be an average college student. But when Hawk, the beautiful, mysterious girl next door unearths his darkest secret, Ion’s life is flipped upside-down. He’s shocked to discover a whole world of people just like him — a world in another dimension, where things like levitation, shape-shifting, and immortality are not only possible… they’re normal.
All I can open with is this is a stellar book. Perfect prose, incredibly relatable characters, and an engaging magical world just waiting to be explored… Emmons really made her mark with this one.
I am not a fan of si-fi, at all. I’d typically put any down a book labeled science fiction without a second glance, I’m that stubborn. But this book? I LEGIT STAYED UP ALL NIGHT AND READ LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW. So, updated preferences: i hate si-fi unless it’s k.a. emmons si-fi.
content warning: plenty of blood & gore; mentions of sex and touches on the subject of rape; mild language. i’d recommend to ages 13+
HAWK? WAS? INCREDIBLE?? Hawk is definitely a Strong Female Character™, but, for once, she actually has emotions and real issues??? WHERE HAS THIS CHARACTER BEEN ALL MY LIFE??? Oh my goodness, Hawk is just the epidemic of great characterization.
Where most female leads nowadays are either super weepy and emotional or stoic and heartless, Hawk keeps her head while also being a sympathetic character. I was particularly inspired by the fact that this young woman who’s seen the world twice over, who has legit superpowers, struggles with self-worth and trust just as much as any regular girl. What else can I say? She’s one of the best characters I’ve ever seen, and I love her so much awhekfjkdsfls !!
Emmons’ prose was 100% absolutely out of this world. I was drawn into her fancy-worded snare inch by inch, and when the trap shut I was done for. The story had me, and that’s something uncommon for an easily distracted reader like me.
The pacing of the plot was incredible, and that’s a fact. Like, I can totally envision the author going over the plot a bunch of times just to make the timing perfect. Admittedly, it did take a few chapters to fully fall in love with the book, but after I did, there was no leaving.
A strange thing I adored: superhuman abilities!! As I mentioned earlier, I don’t like when books go further than our already-existing world. This time, though, the powers and unearthly stuff intrigued me. I LOOOVED seeing how the powers and their personalities matched up and how Ion had to grow personality-wise in order to use it.
Sensei and Fin were STARS. Sensei had me nodding reverently with his words of wisdom (I may or may not have imagined Sensei Wu during his scenes, sorry not sorry). Fin had me squealing frantically and bashing my face into pillows, he was just that sweet and ALSO A REDHEAD. He’s like a little Irish Peeta Malark, only not helpless.
I think the subject of rape was addressed beautifully. Rape culture is not to be taken lightheartedly and I’m so so so so sOOO satisfied with Emmon’s way of talking about it. It’s the perfect balance of hard-hitting reality and gentleness. I can’t even explain it, guys. It was so brilliant.
There were quite a few writing mistakes. For one, there were a lot of overused words (most notably kiss, blood, and literally) that got annoying quickly. I could sometimes tell when the same prose techniques were used multiple times, which is really picky of me, but I have to point it out. This is a review for a reason 😅 For a debut novel, though, I’d say it’s not a big deal.
It was a little predictable in the middle. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I’ve seen what happens in plenty of other books/movies and it just? Wasn’t satisfying? I don’t know, but it was disappointing for me.
Can I add that everyone was moody? There’s no exception to this because every single character was in an eternally foul mood. Perhaps this was the mood Emmons was aiming for, but it ended up rubbing me the wrong way.
Ion was… average? It’s not that I didn’t like him, but next to Hawk, Ion looked like just another ‘chosen-one’ stereotype. Ion was the Harry Potter in a world where everyone adores Hermione and Ron. It was his story, but the other characters proved more interesting.
Duel-point-of-view books mean there are two stories happening simultaneously. The best part about a book like this (at least to me) is the anticipation between the two stories. I want to constantly be thinking about what the next chapter will hold. In this book, I was just waiting for Hawk to take over, which made Ion’s parts difficult to get through.
The timeline is a little confusing. I was very confused when the book referenced a whole year having passed. It seemed to me like it only took a month or so. That detail tripped me up a little, but it’s no big deal.
Side characters like West, Mel, and Ruger were kind of dull. I didn’t particularly care for any of them anyway, but their lack of development made them even harder to connect with. As for Mel, she was basically the damsel in distress, the popular perfect princess who can manipulate boys with a wink and a kiss. I admire her character as a contrast for Hawk, but I don’t think that was the intention of her personality. She ended up just really… irritating.
I’m giving The Blood Race a 4-star rating. It was an incredible experience and a blast to read, but those nitpicky details snowballed into bigger issues in the end. Still, the good 1000% outweighs the bad (the good being primarily my main girl HAWK). It’s a well-written, well-loved story I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. K. A. Emmons has my stamp of approval. I’m waiting not-so-patiently to read the sequel, Worlds Beneath and take more adventures with Ion and Hawk!
A bit of a new thing today, huh? I’ve been wanting to keep track of books with reviews forever, but I’d never been willing to post them. Here we are, though, with a giant book review and a whole lot of fangirling!
Have you read The Blood Race? If so… WHAT DID YOU THINK?! Who’s your favorite character? Don’t worry, I won’t screech too much if it’s not Hawk. 😉 If you haven’t read it, are you going to add it to your tbr?? Let’s squeal in the comments ☀✨