Human clones Rachel and Theo once again find themselves in mortal danger from evil scientist Elijah in this sequel to genetic thriller Blood Ties which won the Red House children’s book award. Having been relocated to safe addresses on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Rachel and Theo are trying to cope with their deep longing to be together again. When Rachel discovers that Elijah is still conducting his heinous experiments in secret, and has designs on the life of Daniel, Theo’s youngest clone ‘brother’, Rachel sets off to rescue him, with tragic consequences. Soon both she and Theo are once again caught in Elijah’s evil genetic web, and must confront the results of his sinister Aphrodite Experiment.
McKenzie once again employs the technique of alternating short, cliffhanging chapters between Rachel and Theo, making this a pacey and compelling read, which is nothing if not action-packed. The drawback of this rapid counterpoint is that it allows for only minimal reflection on their motivations; the aspects of their characters that make them unique and those that bind them. In a book that seeks to raise so many issues about nurture, genetic engineering and the essential nature of humanity, I would have liked to enter more fully in the heads of the main characters. Sometimes too, McKenzie’s generally taut plot strains at the seams, as 15-year-olds wrestle trained heavies to the ground and blaze a trail right across Norway with no money and not a word of the language. Blood Ransom is a quality thriller that would be even more satisfying if it sacrificed a few thrills to more thorough consideration of the profound themes it employs.