Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bloodline by Michael Green

Bloodline by Michael Green
Copyright 2008
An earlier edition first published 2006 as The Crucial Gene
An Arrow Book
Random house NZ
ISBN: 978 1 86941 980 6

First off, Michael Green can tell a story. The tag line of the book is: What if your family was the last left alive? And this story is about the Chatfields and their family is the last left alive after a ‘super-SARS’ virus ravages the planet. It kills quickly and with the advent of worldwide travel, it has no borders.

The book kicks off right in the middle of the action. Mark Chatfield and his wife are aboard a plane after visiting relatives in England, when the wife gets sick. Other people on the plane are sick as well and as the plane comes to land in Singapore, the passengers are not allowed off. The plane is refuelled and sent to New Zealand.

Mark’s wife gets sicker and sicker. By the time they land, many passengers are ill and on the ground the army is in full swing. No one is allowed to leave and as Mark is the only person not sick, he is constantly tested; blood, temperature, etc.

Everyone around is dying. Mark makes a daring escape and reaches his daughter’s house in Auckland. Jane is alive and well. His son Steven is also there and the two kids. All partners are dead.

They escape the army and road gangs as they looked for somewhere else to live and decided on Gulf Harbour.

And that’s just part one. It’s hard out, full-on, and uses a lot of flashbacks. I’m not a fan of flashbacks but to get a grip on the storyline, they are needed. There are four parts to this book. Part two is a search for a relative living in Wellington. Part three is heading to England on the premise that if they survived the English branch of the family may have survived as well. But the community they find on the other side of the world is a very different one, based on the rule of fear. Not only does it look impossible to take anyone back to New Zealand, but it may also be impossible for them to escape themselves.

It is from part three that the book gathers amazing speed and really kicks into gear. I won’t describe that happen from here, suffice to say: It’s one hell of an idea and executed well.

As I have mentioned, Michael Green can tell one hell of a story and it seems almost plausible as pieces of the jigsaw come together. But I must say I wasn’t impressed with ‘tell’ style employed to ‘tell’ this story. This happened and then this happened and so forth. Quote: He fell back in fear. Would something a little more intimate be better? For example: The knowledge burned into his soul forcing him back a pace as wide eyed, he stared at... In all the writing books and all the courses writers are told not to do this. Show don’t Tell is yelled at every new author the moment they hit the block. Was Michael told? Also there was a few terrible to read pages at the start of part four. These were told in omnipresent view and destroyed the mood of the story. It didn’t last long and I think it was the only way to let the readers know the story had passed through winter.

Once I had become accustomed the Michael’s style, I found the book fast paced, and enthralling and was a little disappointed in the ending. It came too soon!

Bloodline is a book that you are either going to love or hate. I don’t think there is a middle ground. I also think this book will appeal more to men.

Michael Green is noted for his humourous book: Big Aggie sails the Gulf and for a non-fiction book: Successful Speechmaking.


1 comment:

  1. Nice review Lee. I've added it to a list of reviews of recent New Zealand crime and thriller fiction on Crime Watch, the hub for all things NZ crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. See: