Theo has a bodyguard and he doesn’t know why. After his latest attempted escape, he demands that his mother explain. She confesses that the father he thought was dead is still alive, in hiding because of a terrorist organisation – the Righteous Army against Genetic Engineering – out to kill him to stop his genetic research. Theo can’t just accept this and wants to track his father down, and this leads him to Rachel.
Rachel feels fat, ugly, and stupid. She doesn’t have any friends and her parents are always comparing her to her sister Rebecca, who died before she was born. Then Theo turns up, and she fancies him immediately. She finds herself making excuses for them to be together whilst researching the connection between their parents. Rachel manages to organise things so that they go together to Rachel’s school disco, but are ambushed by RAGE and rescued by a stranger who takes them away to meet Theo’s father and discover terrible secrets about themselves.
I guessed several details in Blood Ties before they were revealed to the protagonists, Theo and Rachel, so I’m not sure how effective it is as a thriller. I don’t read thrillers very often, and I don’t think I’ve read a teen/YA thriller before. It has the right pace, I think, and the narration alternates between the protagonists, which kept me wondering what the other one thought and itching to read their reaction. I thought this was very effective in this story, because Theo and Rachel are quite different and have contrasting strengths and weaknesses which they use or are let down by and it was interesting to compare them. I think it also helps to make the book appealing for both male and female readers.
I liked the first third of this book better than the rest. I thought the scenes of Theo and Rachel at school or hanging out with Theo’s friends were really well done, and I wished the minor characters from these sections reappeared later on in the story as I really liked them! Once Theo, Rachel, and their mysterious protectors were on the run, I just didn’t find it as interesting, although the pace was faster.
I did hope Rachel would confront her body issues in a bit more of an upfront manner than she did, when she became fitter because her survival depended on it and found out her own secret history, I had hoped that she would realise that comparatively, looking good isn’t that important, or derive more confidence from what she has to go through. She does seem to grow a little bit in this way but mostly she changes because other people tell her she’s attractive rather than because she finds a way to believe more in herself.
I enjoyed reading Blood Ties but I don’t think I’m really suited to this genre. I like characters and personal dramas and less running and fighting!