Review: “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

4 of 5 stars

War-time occupation and concentration camps get a supernatural spin in this tale, without making light of their real-world effects. Humans have lost the war world-wide to vampiric predators, and have been relegated to different tiers of concentration camps based on their perceived usefulness: work camps, feeding camps, breeding camps, and entertainment camps. A complex culture and subsequent countercultures emerge among the interned.

Key, a 34-y.o., childless human, has been an overseer at the feeding camp, Grade Orange, on Maui for 4 years when she gets reassigned back to Grade Gold, an entertainment camp, on Oahu, despite the suicide of one of her human charges. Wasted blood is unacceptable. She also finds out that her mother has been toiling away at a work camp on Lanai for years. The return to the privileged Grade Gold comes at an emotional price as she has history with the vampire in charge, Tetsuo.

At the start of the war, 17-y.o. Key had found a teenage-looking Tetsuo hiding out from the sun in her family’s back shed. She did not expose the vulnerable Tetsuo to the sun; in all those years since, he has never harmed or fed on her, despite her complicity. Key feels like a betrayer of her species . . .

“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in F&SF, July/August 2014.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


2 responses to “Review: “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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