Book Review: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Book Information:

Title: The Phlebotomist

Author: Chris Panatier

Publishing Date: September 8th, 2020 by Angry Robot Books

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy


War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper.

To support herself and her grandson Isaiah, Willa works for the blood contractor Patriot. Instituted to support the war effort, the mandatory draw (The Harvest) has led to a society segregated by blood type. Hoping to put an end to it all, Willa draws on her decades-old phlebotomy training to resurrect an obsolete collection technique, but instead uncovers an awful truth.

Patriot will do anything to protect its secret. On the run and with nowhere else to turn, Willa seeks an alliance with Lock, a notorious blood-hacker who cheats the Harvest to support the children orphaned by it. But they soon find themselves in the grasp of a new type of evil.

My Thoughts

I would like to thank Angry Robot Books for giving me a review copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Bloody hell! This novel completely caught me offguard. The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier is a dystopian science fiction read that features strong female characters who fight and topple over a corporation controlled by evil, cruel individuals.

The story followed Willa Mae Wallace, who supported herself and her grandchild Isaiah by working as a ‘reaper’ for Patriot. The reapers’ job was to collect blood every The Draw. Because of war, the mandatory draw, which was also called ‘The Harvest,’ was established to help people who were sick because of radiation. Each blood donation a person gave was rewarded by incentives which people could use for their everyday needs. Blood became a product which people were willing to sell. This caused the division of society by blood type. When Willa witnessed an accident that uncovered an awful truth, she was on the run and seeked the help of the notorious blood-hacker named The Locksmith.

With its original and unique premise, I was instantly hooked. The world building and setting were brilliant and well-detailed. Even with its intricate setting, the book was fast paced, and I liked how the secrets and surprises were placed just at the right time. There was even an instant where I had to pause for a moment to process what I just read. It was very unexpected, and I did not see it coming. Moreover, the author did a great job describing and potraying a country which was devastated by war. It showed inequality and what people could do to adapt and live.

One of the things I like about this book is the main character. Most dystopian novels I read featured young, attractive ones as their main character. However, in this one, Willa is a 60-year-old grandmother who would do anything to provide for her grandchild. It was refreshing to read someone who had wisdom and did not do impulsive actions and decisions. I also enjoyed the character developments. Lastly, side characters were amazing and interesting, too.

Overall, The Phlebotomist is an interesting story in a dystopian setting. I am looking forward to its sequel.

5/5 stars!

Author’s Information

Chris lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. As a lawyer, he goes after companies that poison people.

Chris’s short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Metaphorosis, The Molotov Cocktail Magazine, Ghost Parachute, The Ginger Collect Magazine, Tales To Terrify, Trembling With Fear, Ellipsis Zine, Defenestration and others.

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