Hematophages by Stephen Kozeniewski Review:
The book I am about to review was one I heard from my favorite podcast: The Horror Show with Brian Keene. I had never heard of Stephen Kozeniewski or any of his work before the episode. Brian Keene had tweeted out that Hematophages was his book of the year. I have been a follower of Brian’s End Of The Year Booklist for awhile now, so I knew this had to be an amazing book.
Hematophages is a sci-fi horror novel.
The truth is I didn’t get lost in the book but there was a lot to enjoy. Let me explain.
The novel takes place in a world where race is nonexistent. All characters are one race. Men also do not exist in this universe. Women are the main characters in this book. The book takes place in a sci-fi setting. It has a feel of Alien if there were no men involved.
We meet our main character Paige while she is being interviewed for her position. The characters have discovered a ghost ship named The Manifest Destiny. Our “heroes” have decided to go to it and salvage what they can from it.
I say “heroes” in the last sentence because the women have a very hard time getting along with each other. The women in this novel are selfish and self-absorbed. They would cut a colleagues throat to get ahead in the company they work for. The only thing these women care about is themselves. The only thing on their mind is getting more money and advancing in their company via promotions.
Everyone is out for themselves.
As I said before, our main character goes by the name Paige Ambroziak. While the women in the book are cutthroat to each other, I loved Paige because she was our comic relief. She wanted to get ahead like the others, but she did it in a way that brought a smile to my face….at times. Paige is witty and she is snarky. Chaos could be going on all around her but she still adds in that funny quotable or remark. Once Paige hears about The Manifest Destiny, she realizes that this could be the break she wanted. A break from the same mundane life she has been living.
The mission also allows for Paige to make a name for herself within the corporation she works for.
The novel takes a little while for the “monsters” to show up. I checked my Kindle when I finally got to them and I was around 60% into the novel. This is the part where I’ll explain my own situation with the novel. For my own personal taste, this is where the story suffered a little. That is not taking anything away from it. I am not a huge fan of sci-fi. Being that I read more of the extreme horror genre or splatterpunk, the book was a little slow for me. When you read a splatterpunk novel the mayhem starts on page 5.
The craziness continues until you reach the end.
The main reason I got taken out of the book like I said, was the sci-fi element. This is a sci-fi novel with doses of fantastic horror thrown in. My puny brain, having not read a lot of sci-fi, couldn’t get past the jargon that was being written. I would be reading the novel and come across something I wasn’t familiar with. Then, I would look up what was going on to understand. It took me out of the book when I had to do this. This is by no means a knock on the book. People who are into sci-fi novels are going to LOVE this book. It was one of my first ventures into this genre. It took me out of it a little because I had to figure out what was actually going on in the scene.
Once again, the women are not very kind to each other. They only give a shit about their bonuses or looking good for their company. When the monsters arrived, I found myself rooting on both sides of the action. I was rooting for Paige because she was the character I liked. When the monsters would attack a character, I found myself siding with them. By the time I got to the villains in the book, I spent half a novel seeing these people be assholes to each other. I was hoping that most of the characters would get what they deserved. Although I loved the Paige character in the book, she is not without her own pitfalls throughout the book.
Hematophages is a great book.
It has sci-fi, horror, and comedy elements. Regardless of my own lack of sci-fi knowledge, I am still recommending this book. A sci-fi fan picking this is up is going to fall in love with it. For some, like me, whose little brain can’t comprehend some of the stuff going on, it took me out of it a little.
Doing a quick Google search and you can see I am in the minority. The book is getting rave reviews and I understand why. If you are into sci-fi or horror, I definitely recommend checking out Hematophages.
One more recommendation is I encourage you to check out Stephens episode on The Horror Show with Brian Keene.
One of the reasons I picked up the book was Keene putting his stamp of approval on it. The other was how great Stephen was on the podcast. I loved the interview and will be seeking out his other work.
A part that I loved in the novel was the ending. It was pretty bleak, but having come from reading extreme horror, it was what I wanted. When the monsters were in the book, I loved every second of Hematophages.