The first thing I'll note upon finishing Michael McBride's SUNBLIND is how utterly exhausted I am. The descriptions of atmosphere and human suffering are so well done that reading them is better than any resistance training currently on the market. I was tense throughout the entire novel, which leads me to the fact that you do not read this book, you experience it. More than once, I found myself sweating, as if I were the one broiling under the unflagging sun of the Sonoran desert. Not to mention, I was perpetually thirsty, and actually felt bad whenever I broke down and grabbed a bottle of water because the characters didn't have that option.
As stated above, SUNBLIND takes place in the unforgiving climate of one of America's hottest deserts. The location is a character unto itself, so much so that I'm reminded of the arctic tundra of John Carpenter's THE THING and the jungle in PREDATOR. The most terrifying monster in this book is the oppressive, soul-crushing heat of the locale, which is saying something, indeed, because the night-dwelling threats of SUNBLIND are no joke either.
I love a good creature feature, and have been hunting for one for the past few months. As most of you already know, I don't read synopses 99% of the time, and I think that worked out even better for me this time around than it has in the past. The title led me to believe this was about some unfortunate soul getting lost in the desert after sunburning their peepers, which would have been a rad tale, but that's not the case here. Luckily, what goes down in McBride's newest DarkFuse release is an even cooler premise.
The story hops back and forth in time, telling the tale from two POVs: Mayra, a young Mexican woman whose on a journey to enter America illegally after the death of her sister, has her story told in first person past tense, so we get an in depth feel for her and her struggle. Fantastic decision by the author, if you ask me, as we're privy to just how bad the situation is. I don't know what it feels like to slowly die from heat exposure, dehydration, and hunger, but McBride sold me on never travelling to Arizona by way of Mexico without a case of sunblock, a pack mule loaded down with Dasani, and three or four dozen cheeseburgers. Mayra is a damn strong character, too. No Mary Sues here. The second POV covers Border Patrol Agent Rivera, and occurs in third person present tense, which added a sense of urgency to the situation at hand. Both of these combined proved the perfect story-telling device, because I didn't see the ending coming. McBride made me comfortable in my assumptions then expertly yanked the rug out from under me.
All throughout SUNBLIND, I felt like I was reading a Preston and Child book. This is by no means a complaint, only letting you know that, if you like P&C's books, you will love this one. The monsters are cool, and McBride manages to make them believable. Their motivations are understandable, as is how the author justifies why they haven't been found and how they've sustained themselves in such a harsh climate. As with P&C's books, RELIC and RELIQUARY, I'm left feeling thankful that things like this most likely do not exist and never will. Dear Evolution, let's keep it that way, 'kay? Thanks bunches.
This book is also nearly impossible to put down. It seemed as if every chapter ended on a cliffhanger.
In summation: SUNBLIND is a terrifying hike through an unyielding location populated by some of the most believable monsters in recent memory. There's plenty of viscera for gorehounds, location description that's far from boring, as well as some of the best character writing I've read. I'll be delving into McBride's catalog again real soon. My highest recommendation.
*I received this book in return for my honest review, which you have just read. Many thanks to DarkFuse and Netgalley for the chance to give my opinion of the material.*