Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Forbidden (Gabriel Lennox #1) by M.L. Desir

Gabriel Lennox would rather not be involved in Chosen society at all. He would rather not drink blood, not be involved in their parties and certainly not create new vampires. He definitely has no interest in being their prince.

However, his solitude is not to continue. Lillith, his powerful and ancient creator, insists he take the throne while Seth, competition for that throne, is determined to make him into a rival. Throw in the plotting of the true immortals – as well as a whole lot of questioning over what immortality actually means – and Gabriel’s peace is shattered

So this book is definitely different from most of the vampire books out there. We follow Gabriel a vampire and hailed as a prince who really really doesn’t want to be a prince.

There’s a really interesting ongoing plot/debate of this book about what it means to be immortal. After all, Lillith promises the vampires (or not vampires since they often deny the title) immortality but how do they know they have it? And how do you even test that? And does the rules for one apply to all? This is central obsession of Gabriel and Seth – are they really immortal?

And if they are immortal then that begs lots of other questions – like why is Gabriel following orders? Why should he do what Lillith tells him? After all, isn’t he immortal, what is Lillith going to do?

In fact a lot of Gabriel’s character – in between the eternal surliness that is ever-present in this character – is based on him questioning the reality people present to him. He doesn’t want to be prince, but if he is going to be prince then they don’t get to make demands of him so who are all these people giving him orders?

Interestingly we also have some characters in very painful and difficult circumstances – Bela lost in Seth’s shadow and Colin, battling addiction and hatred of the world and himself – that latter of which really drives him to extreme behaviour. I wish more had been developed with him because he seemed to be a far more compelling character than the eternally surly Gabriel whose specialness seems entirely based on the super special woo-woo only he has for Reasons

The world itself is also somewhat unusual. We have many books with vampires deciding they should take over or be superior and the protagonists opposing that. But this comes with a whole different level brought by Lillith and her fellow originators of the vampires, each with their own agenda

One of the main problems is the extremely elaborate writing – and not just in the way people speak (a common way to try and create an idea of time and place) but also in the way everything is described. The setting, the clothing, how people look – over and over again with impossible elaborate and long winded detail. It’s meant to be beautiful and evocative and sometimes it is – but it is painfully slow and dragging. I had to fight not to skim the book rather than read it just to make it move at a decent rate – and I don’t think I would have missed any pertinent points if I had scanned it.

The slowness of the writing (and I really can’t emphasise this enough) combines with some really poor pacing at the beginning of the book. We open with a lot happening and no real relevance to any of it – no explanation, just random events portrayed with very purple, elaborate, slow writing.

So for over half of the book we have Gabriel abstaining from blood and complaining that he doesn’t need it – but no explanation whether that’s him or the vampire kind in general. We have a lot of very vague dreams and prophecies. We have Lillith and no explanation as to who she is and why she is so interested in Gabriel. Gabriel is pushed to become Prince but I’m not sure why people want him for the job or why he doesn’t want it.

Several of these events are covered in the second half of the book. But you have to battle through, fight through, over 150 pages of these long winded events but absolutely no context or reason or any of it. It is hard to keep going, to engage with the story, to want to keep going. We get so much exposition of the world building in the second half creating a very rich world with a whole lot of originality between the creatures that are Lillith’s family and the vampires who they create – and a whole lot of levels and different

Even then there are still several elements that just feel unnecessary to the book – Michel, the opera and Genevieve were a painfully long winded addition to the story and I’m not really sure what they were supposed to add. Similarly we had the character of Nathaniel and I really don’t know what she was supposed to add to the story beyond just being there. These are elements that wouldn’t necessarily annoy in other books – but because this book is so long winded and took such a long time to find some coherence and relevance that I resented this distraction.

I also still don’t know why Lillith needs Gabriel to be prince so much, why she insisted he create new vampires and what exact relevance his whole past had which we kept referencing. It may have been connected to his super special woo-woo but I have no real idea.

In terms of marginalised people we don’t have a lot. Lillith is a WOC which is nice to have such an ancient and powerful being acknowledge as such but she’s more a background force than a power. There are no LGBT people and the women are really lacking and background – Bella seems to be a love interest torn between Seth and Gabriel with no real existence as anything but a game piece. Lillith this huge background force and I have no clue what the rapidly disposed of Genevieve was for.

I can see parts of this book that were interesting and could have become a whole lot more. I see parts of this book that point to a rich world that begs for more development and exploration. I see parts of this book that’s call for a whole new angle and slant on the traditional vampire story. I see parts of this book that make me want a second book

But those parts are buried in terrible pacing, over-ornate writing and a general lack of coherent focus that made this book hard work to read.

Also, I have no idea what is Forbidden. Apparently something is….