Today I’m delighted to be doing a feature on author Markus Dune, whose debut novel Fallen Blood, Broken Love was released last month!
I met Markus on Twitter @markusdune when he was offering copies of his novel for review and it sounded right up our street here at the blog, so I said we would take one.
Jake Dunmer is a fourteen-year-old with more than his fair share of problems: money is scarce at home, girls laugh at him, his best friend Danny won’t be seen with him at school and he is bullied on a daily basis by the ever-persistent Thomas.
When his younger brother becomes the focus of Thomas’s bullying, Jake knows he has to do something, but what chance does he have against the boy who has it all?
Jake finds his life spiralling out of control and attempts to run away from it all, only to encounter a stranger who might just have the answer to his problems; if he is brave enough to take the risk…
Fallen Blood, Broken Love is available in print (£6.99) and digital (£1.99) formats, on Amazon, Kindle, iBooks, and a whole range of ereaders. Also available to buy online at http://www.markusdune.com
I went into this book with high hopes – as I said earlier it’s exactly the sort of book I love – but unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations.
Probably the biggest issue I had with it is the seeming lack of plot. The story just seems to meander about in Jake’s life and while there are any number of threads that could have been expanded to create an overall story arc, none of them ever seem to come to fruition. There was a lot of scope for extreme emotional exploration – Jake’s mother’s sickness for one, or his wavering confusion over his sexuality for another. Either of these would have been a great story arc in and of themselves, but instead they’re skated around without ever really being explored.
The book deals with a lot of heavy issues – trust, sexuality, death and bullying, to name but a few. It had the potential to be a remarkable coming of age book, but it somehow seems to miss every mark and I personally feel it’s because it just doesn’t know its audience. It’s pitched at YA readers but it is far too long for that audience and filled with unnecessary fluff and details that go nowhere. I don’t know the word count but I’d guess it’s in the region of 100k or upwards and that’s being conservative. Jake’s character is written as a mostly consistent 14 year old, which means that at times the story feels immature, particularly where his internal monologues are explored, and that can be dissatisfying for an adult reader. A YA book of this genre would race along with action and adventure in that passionate hormonal way teens throw themselves into everything. This book really doesn’t – it just gently meanders through the days of Jake’s life without really seeming to go anywhere, in the style of an adult character-driven piece. Most of the information of importance seems to be imparted in the last 10 pages or so and then it just leaves you hanging without any idea what the information is for. While I understand that this is a series, after all that wading through the world and character building, there needed to be some sort of resolution, some point to the story.
The main focal point of the blurb, the fact that Jake becomes a vampire, happens very early on in the book, making the blurb slightly misleading, and is handled in a way that…well, there’s no other word for it but ‘clumsy’. In essence, he meets a stranger in a forest and agrees to drink his blood with seemingly little thought or hesitation. Dune has done such a careful job setting up the details of Jake’s world with such a realist flavour that this abrupt diversion from credibility is jarring. It happens again later in the book, where Jake does something so patently out of character that I lost patience with it. The rest of the book is so carefully constructed that these clumsy plot devices are entirely out of character, both for Jake and his author.
Apart from Jake and Matthew, the rest of the characters are a little flat and one-dimensional. You never really learn their history or motives and while that leaves them with a bit of mystery and intrigue, it also adds to the lack of drive in the story. When you don’t have a hint of why anyone is doing anything, it just becomes a jumble.
On a positive note, the story was well copy edited. I only noticed one error (a missing word) which, in a book of this size, is quite remarkable and the editors should be commended.
In fairness to the author I may have completely missed something here. He may perhaps have been attempting to break the mould and try a new style of story telling, a character with more detailed substance than a standard novel. Perhaps the world of YA novels is ready for a change of pace, a more thoughtful exploration of a character without a need to define him by external events. I’m interested to see what others thought of this book, but I’m afraid that it was not for me.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.