Despite my annoyance last week I decided I would give the second read a whirl as I already owned a copy and see what it was all about, in part to be fair to the show that aired again last night plus I would see how my hours reading it were rewarded. I also thought that in the possible instance that it wasn’t really discussed very much last night then people could pop a long here and have a good old natter about it. So onto the book…
Blacklands is a rather dark tale of two halves, one part of it is the tale of an unhappy and dysfunctional family, and the other is the dark tale of the mind of a serial killer. The thing, or person, that links the two is a twelve year old boy called Steven Lamb. Steven is one of those boys who isn’t very popular at school in fact even his teachers try not to notice him and even try to avoid him and his ‘smell of mildew’, so much so they ignore his being bullied. His home life is also not the best, living on the breadline, Steven with his Mum, Nan and little brother Davey.
It’s not the happiest of households either, his mum has a favourite son which isn’t Steven and his Nan has been bitter and angry ever since the disappearance of Steven’s Uncle Billy. The disappearance seems to linger over the household mainly because its never fully been solved and cannot rest. Aged eleven Billy vanished between the newsagent and his house believed to be the victim of serial killer Arnold Avery. Steven decides and in some way becomes slightly obsessed that finding Billy’s body will make everything better and if he does it his family will love him more. After fruitless digging on Exmoor he decides that he will write to his Uncle’s killer, what he doesn’t realise is that this provides Arnold Avery with the perfect game.
Steven is a brilliant character and I really enjoyed reading him and following his journey. Occasionally I thought he spoke and acted a lot older than twelve, having said that with his home life the way it was and all the bullying I could understand why he might have aged quicker. I thought the premise was an interesting and yet incredibly disturbing one. I found getting into the mind of Avery and his paedophilic ways made for difficult reading, I am of a mind though reading shouldn’t always be comfortable just like it shouldn’t always be happy. That’s another conversation though.
If I was judging a book by its cover I would possibly, and I don’t mean to sound a snob, not have picked Blacklands up as it looked like a bit of a bad crime throwaway summer read and it’s not at all. I can’t say I enjoyed the book because I don’t think you can enjoy a book with a serial killing paedophile, I was enthralled though, gripped too and turned the pages till suddenly it was finished and a few hours had whizzed by. It’s not got the best prose that I have ever seen yet it does get into the minds of an unfortunate twelve year old as well as the darkest recesses of a serial killers mind. I would recommend people give this a go.
I have to add that I had no idea that I would be taking part in the Not The TV Book Group (which now has its own page) before when I started reading Blacklands, not that it really makes any difference as I still watched The TV Book Club last night. I don’t think the book was talked about enough again and it should be the star of the show truth be told, and the whole thing with the pencils was pointless, it didn’t relate to books, but it was a bit better, maybe the improvements will start next week what do you think? Have you read Blacklands?