Score: 95/100 (9.5/10)
WARNING: WE MEAN THE FOLLOWING IN A POSITIVE LIGHT. WE ACTUALLY LIKED THE BOOK A LOT!
With that out of the way...
Seriously, did the author deliberately lower our expectations only to shatter them later? The first page of this novel is simultaneously one of the worst and most cringe-worthy opening pages of any novel while also being one of the most brilliant and ingenious. That first page reads like it was written by an 11-year-old who gathered a whole bunch of random notes for a cool character concept and threw them onto the page.
How so? Well, the book begins with a ton of telling (rather than showing) including the main protagonist/antihero outright telling you who they are, what they're wearing, where they're from, what their quirks and perks are, what mental disorder they have, what their dog's name is, and their entire life story. It's everything you aren't supposed to do in the beginning of a novel. Well, thank God the rest of the book is nothing like that—not at all! The rest of this book reads like it was written by a masterful storyteller who has published about 200 books and has been doing TED Talks on writing for years. We don't know if any of that is true, but it certainly seems like it based on how impressive their writing and storytelling is after that first few pages.
When it comes down to it, this is a terrific character-driven tale about a very gray character, the titular Blind Justice, and their vigilante quest to inflict justice on wrongdoers (mainly pedophiles) even if it means losing their humanity and becoming the villain themselves. It's very Batman-esque as many vigilante stories go, only Blind Justice is far more ruthless and brutal than Batman is, not to mention being willing to torture and kill. In fact, Blind Justice seems to enjoy torturing and killing, justifying their actions because of who they're perpetrating them again. In their mind, they are doing the things the law is unable or unwilling to do: to catch and punish the worst in society. However, how far is too far? Should you give up your humanity—your soul—for retribution? Should you abandon morals and ethics for what you perceive to be the greater good? Is a serial killer ever justified? Is a serial killer redeemable?
Notice we use the pronouns they, them, and their to describe Blind Justice as they are a transvestite, however it's interesting to note that others refer to them by other pronouns for various reasons. For example, members of law enforcement like Detective Peter, one of the other major protagonists, sometimes refers to Blind Justice as “him” or “he” partly because of the assumption that most violent criminals are male and are lacking information on the identity of Blind Justice. Blind Justice also occasionally reflects on the time when they were male or a boy. And they sometimes seem torn between who they are and who they were.
There are many times when they're just called “she” or “her” because that's what they identify as.
Sexuality and gender seem to be handled respectfully regardless of where you stand on the social-political or religious views on LGBTQ issues. It seriously didn't bother us either way. Blind Justice is neither demonized for being trans nor are they glamorized. Pretty fittingly, it's just a part of Blind Justice's identity, and the author just expects us to accept it the way we would if a close loved one were trans. We can actually appreciate the author's approach a lot. The author actually shows some of the ways that Blind Justice feels more satisfied and fulfilled being a trans woman, but on the other hand how people mistake them for being a cis girl in the physiological sense and treat them differently. For example, early on, boys try to play the white knight assuming Blind Justice is a cis female. A pedophile also mistakes Blind Justice for being a young girl, underestimating the strength and muscle-mass Blind Justice still has from having been a biological male. This gives Blind Justice a surprising physical advantage which they leverage against their enemies/victims (depending on how you look at them). Indeed, they will often disarm these enemies/victims with their feminine charm and dog, then quickly overwhelm them with surprise and strength as happens with one of the book's major antagonists/victims, Simon Richards, a known pedophile and child abuser.
What's really fascinating about this book and its characters is, again, the grayness. Blind Justice is split not only in her gender (being a biological male who identifies as a trans female) but also in their personality. They immediately reveal to the audience that they suffer from multiple personality disorder. Furthermore, the character is just so split and torn between good and evil, humanity and depravity. On one hand, Blind Justice believes they are protecting and avenging victims including young children and vulnerable women by brutally murdering those who have or would hurt them. They also show some degree of caring for these victims as well as for their dog, Willow.
On another hand, Blind Justice takes things way too far. Blind Justice relishes in causing as much pain, suffering, and agony to their victims as possible, even deliberately avoiding killing them for as long as possible in order to prolong their suffering. They also have a strange barbaric obsession with dismembering the victims and keeping their flesh to feed to Willow and the stray dogs outside. These are not activities that most normal human beings would associate with a kind and compassionate personality. In fact, Blind Justice proves themselves to be just as depraved, sadistic, and bloodthirsty as some of their victims, if not more so. And before you say: well, the feeding of these perverse humans to the stray dogs shows that Blind Justice is loving and caring enough to feed animals.
Think again! Blind Justice gives their victims a tranquilizing medication that makes these victims even more defenseless and easier to abuse. Why does that matter? Well, Blind Justice has a strong hunch that this medication could be harmful to her dog and the strays when they eat the human flesh she feeds them. They do research into it, after which Blind Justice admits that she is really only concerned with the health of Willow, she doesn't really care what happens to the other animals who eat the contaminated and possibly poisoned human flesh. Blind Justice has really become a sociopath and a psychopath akin to many mass-shooters and serial killers.
So, like Walter White in Breaking Bad, the audience is really going to be torn about how they're supposed to feel about the protagonist/antihero—whether to root for them or root for someone like Peter to put an end to their madness. It's kinda perfect in that sense.
Check it out on Amazon!
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