Written by: Matt Molgaard
I’m certain Paul Dorset’s New Blood has a comfortable niche in which to fall into, unfortunately I don’t spend much time dabbling in such a crevice. New Blood is a book aimed at young adults, and while I’m not sure it’s been stipulated on a grand scale: this one is for the female, or overtly sensitive reader. It’s a bit like a soap opera on page, in truth.
The story sees a young ambitious businessman – Beau Tempest – work his way to the top of his field, while claiming a handful of lives along the way. However, one must note that Beau isn’t merely a serial killer, he’s a serial killer with some abnormal abilities: namely the capacity to suck the life of woman with little more than a kiss. A member of a secret society comprised of similar individuals – who I should note aren’t typical vampires, though they’re clearly monsters – Beau’s rise to the top is met with much assistance, but his arrogance proves a serious detriment to his long-term future and his insatiable desire for death only makes for more unavoidable obstacles.
On the flip side of this coin we’ve got our antagonist, Lucy: a pure, early 20’s English lass looking for love: Apparently in all the wrong places. After a blossoming relationship with a likeable gent dissolves suddenly and mysteriously, Lucy finds herself tangled up with the likes of Tempest, who’s attempting to build a genuine bond with a lovely lady, rather than a murderous fling. Let’s just say this relationship isn’t picture perfect, and most of that lies on the shoulders of Beau, who can’t decide whether he prefers romance or human extinguishing.
There’s a lot more to the story, but the fact is, not much of it is all too stimulating. In fact, the vast majority of this story unravels within the confines of an office. To take it a step further, I’ll say that the bulk of the novel’s content really feels a lot like the film Office Space, sans the outrageous humor. Initially I believed Dorset was simply taking his time with character development, but that’s not really the case. This is a bit like a character study that isolates one single element of day-to-day life rather than leaping in the deep end and exploring every angle imaginable. After about 25 chapters I realized, this is what readers get: a lengthy reminder of how shitty work can be… if you’re not a monster with a paved path to follow.
What murders do occur, are delivered in vague, short spurts. There’s little descriptive work when it comes to what should be a key focus of the novel: cold blooded, intentional murder. It feels as though Dorset is more content to illuminate work friction than the work of a borderline sociopathic killer. Beau’s physical dark side is something Paul seems to just skim over, little regard shown. As a horror fan (I should really pound away at the fact that this novel is more of a romantic drama than a horror effort), I like my tension, but I like it in the right places, at the right time: preferably paralleled to acts of extreme violence. You won’t find that in this story. The pressures imposed are established from Beau’s office nine of ten times.
Another issue I take with the novel is the sudden shift in rationale from both Beau and Lucy. In the story’s early goings we learn that Beau (who’s perceived as a bit of a “player” by friends and co-workers) is indeed attracted to Lucy. But, Lucy meets another man before anything develops between the two. It seems as though the potential romance between our villain and heroine is dead in the water, and Dorset makes that obvious: Beau, for some time ceases to contemplate possibilities with Lucy, and Lucy finds herself deeply involved with her new leading man; Until that is, the hunk of the story goes missing, and then it’s sayonara to the idea of logical emotion.
Lucy learns her boyfriend has been found dead, and while the two hadn’t spent a wealth of time together, she certainly seems extremely distraught. This is the point in which the mood of the story completely shifts. Not long (really, it’s a matter of weeks) after Lucy learns of her loss, she’s suddenly prepared to pursue a relationship with Beau, full on, no holds barred, petal to the medal, despite an onslaught of warnings from multiple associates. I guess she doesn’t mourn long, and I guess the slightly naïve layer to her personality just expanded, exponentially. A similar scenario befalls Beau, who after having seemingly written Lucy off, is quite suddenly overtly infatuated with the woman. It’s a turn that left me shaking my head, as these are just not the logical responses one would expect.
Let me remind you, Lucy is the pure one here: religious, far from promiscuous, relatively inexperienced. But, she’s ready to leap from man to man at the drop of the dime suddenly. Meanwhile Beau, who has no difficulties in wrangling the frequent beauty, is damn near love struck (or so he seems to believe). It’s all very awkward, and it leaves the reader feeling as though Dorset began the story at one point, took an extended break from the novel, only to return, having forgotten about the kind of characters he created to begin with, which is a shame because we’ve got some endearing personalities to examine in the first half of New Blood.
Now, before I part ways with Microsoft Word, let me say this: I understand that Dorset aims to make the Melrose storyline a series (to what length, I do not know). That’s fine and dandy, but there’s an issue, beyond all others I’ve already discussed, in the first book that leaves me extremely leery: there is quite literally no conclusion to this story. The climax is completely absent. Keeping a story alive over the course of numerous books is an awesome idea, but each story should be fit to function as a standalone book that intertwines with each other installment in the series. It’s almost as though Dorset expects fans to hang around and wait for this story to be wrapped up in the future. That’s not exactly fair to readers, in my opinion.
You write a story, you introduce characters, you introduce a series of conflicts, and you polish that beast off with some form of resolution(s). Dorset seems to have completely forgotten the final step; New Blood offers no true resolution to the ultimate conflicts presented, and it doesn’t end on any form of cliffhanger, it ends on a curb, with a pocket full of unanswered questions.