I was actually quite disappointed with Blacklands. I thought that it was a good story, but was very short, and this could have been the reason that it didn’t involve me as much as I felt that it should have – there was just way too much missing.
In the blurb, Belinda Bauer says that she wrote the book as she was moved by the story of a mother whose child had been murdered many years before, and she was curious about how that kind of event would affect a family long-term…however, that is exactly what I believe was missing. I felt that the mother and grandmother were really weak characters that I had no empathy for at all, even though I felt some amount of guilt as I knew that I SHOULD feel it. They just didn’t seem real to me at all – they were very one-dimensional. The only reason they even seemed to have one dimension was because of their relationship with Steven.
Steven felt like a real 12 year old boy, and I did care about him. Uncle Jude’s character was also appealing, but that was probably just because of the change in Steven when he was around.
Strangely, I also didn’t feel much hatred towards Avery – he felt a bit of a cartoon villain to me, rather than a paedophile, serial child-killer.
Also, although the story is set in recent years, the idea of the family being oh so very poor makes it feel like it’s been set in the 70s, and for some reason, just doesn’t ring true.
However, it was an entertaining enough, easy-to-read ‘filler’ book. I can actually see it as making a fantastic film. In the UK we can make brilliant gritty dramas, making characters very very real with a host of fantastic actors that can make bleak tales SO amazing (anything with Paddy Considine for example!) and we ‘re great for gritty, film noir child actors. I’d certainly watch it, and I think an adaptation would really bring the story to life and make it more believable – no matter how uncomfortable the subject matter may be.