Ben is back, and this time he has mixed weed into his biscuits, and his dog, Brown, has made a new friend, in stuffed toy, Bear. Ben, in the last book, had left the relative safety of his home and in Flesh and Blood has adapted to a new reality, a new home – a ship Our Kid. I thought that was a cool idea. Of all the inaccessible places you couldn’t ever get inside, with a chunk of the Earth’s population dead suddenly you can go where you please. ‘I could have died in warmth and comfort, stoned out of my mind, listening to Abba.’
Ben has cancer, so decides he needs to reach a hospital, and what may seem ‘only’ 6 miles, is an obstacle course for an ailing Ben. This is an obstacle course that comes with a barge with a beeping alarm, which attracts the attention of the Wraths, who follow him along the Canal, and he then takes a dip in that canal, having a crash course in how to drive and eventually reaching the hospital in one piece, only to get a gas canister smashed into his face.
Our other character is Helen, a woman Ben had a brief relationship with in Before and After. We follow her version of events since they split up, becoming a surrogate mum for her gay best friend, and his husband. I did not like the best friend, Martin. I did not understand the significance of his character. ‘The thing with Martin is that you can only deny him for so long. Eventually, he’ll just do what he wants, so it’s really about how stubborn you want to be and how long you can thwart him.’
I only got alarm bells from reading about Martin.
I thought that Helen’s story was different in tone from Ben’s. Ben’s story is tragic, and eerie, whereas Helen bought it back to before the end of the world had happened.
The humour is so much more subtle in Flesh and Blood, the horror less so and I thought it was an entertaining read, if that is the correct word to use? Flesh and Blood is about survival, making wrong, bad and poor decisions, carrying on, and trying to be safe.
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For those who are curious