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Air Crash of a Novel

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Bloodline by Michael Green
Random House New Zealand, Reviewed by JANE BLAIKIE

Bloodline opens with scenes of fear and mayhem at Changi airport, Singapore, as a super-SARS pandemic takes hold. So flying out of Christchurch for Singapore, I opened the book with a mild thrill of recognition and hopes of a few hours of happy escapism. But this was not to be. Bloodline is a white-supremacy survivalist fantasy.
To digress for a moment: the label PC gets thrown about quite a lot these days. In fact, in Wellington, there’s something of a fear of being seen as too PC, and incurring the wrath of any number of folk – New Right commentators, National Party MPs, any number of white males aged over 50.
For example, a friend who chairs a small government agency has been advised to hold off from instituting Maori apprenticeships in an area where this would be a win-win for all parties in case it gets picked up before the election as an example of limp-wristed political correctness.
But reading Bloodline suggests that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far the other way. It’s a reminder of the Social Darwinists, with their ideas of Nature condoning the annihilation of the ‘weak’. And where did that end – without wanting to be too dramatic, but maybe it is time to consider where that kind of thinking ended – in the holocaust.
So what do we have in Bloodline: within a very few weeks of the angel of death laying waste to New Zealand, and elsewhere, Maori have reverted to kidnapping decent white folk and frying them on the BBQ; among the survivors, the disabled conveniently die at birth, the gay character is a sadistic rapist, women are excluded from decision-making because they can’t be trusted, and the elderly sacrifice themselves to beheading.
The publicity sheet accompanying Bloodline says the author donated the proceeds of the novel following the death of his son by suicide, though it’s not clear whether the book was written before or after the death. But a charitable explanation would be that it was written in the depths of grief, and who can begin to imagine the horror of losing a child.
But surely isn’t there some kind of duty, as a community, as individuals, to protect people from themselves when they are lost to reason? Doesn’t the publisher here have a responsibility?
Perhaps the difficulty was that technically Bloodline does work as a piece of writing, as a page-turning airport thriller.
Even so, this is one manuscript that belonged in the bottom drawer.

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Jane Blaikie is a Wellington writer and reviewer.

3 comments:

  1. Jess, 13. October 2008, 16:09

    On what basis do you call this book white supremacist? Because the family is heavily hinted at being white? So.. take the same story and say the family was Indian, and went back to relatives in India. Indian supremacist? Of course not. Ridiculous. But, you could call the author racist for making it look like Indians were savages, reverting to medieval times in the blink of an eye. Damn white people. How dare we write stories and include ourselves in the plot.

    It’s a story. Mostly I found it a scarily realistic version of what could happen in such a breakdown of law and order. Granted, I found the.. gang eating people part to be a little hard to believe, but then, it’s been done in the past, so I can forgive a little speculation that it would happen again. From what I recall, only one of the gang members was specifically mentioned to be Maori though. The victims races weren’t mentioned. So try not to lose the plot and go off on your little moral rants just because you saw Maori and cannibalism in the same sentence. Women were excluded from the decision making because of a suspected traitor and they had evidence it was a woman. Seems pretty logical to me. Even if it’s not fair, it makes sense.. and again, it’s a story. Just because a writer might write something prejudiced occurring in their story does not mean they are prejudiced. Actually I’d say it means they’re a good writer, because, in case you hadn’t noticed, people are prejudiced. We’re just good at hiding it these days.

    You could’ve just written that it was an average book, the story and writing quality are so-so. Having read this sad little anti-anti-PC rant though I like it a little more, because it annoys the rabid liberal lunatics who want everything glossed over with a coat of socialist propaganda, be it current events, fiction, and even history.

    Jane Blaikie replies:

    Having now had a holiday, I can see it might have been better to poke fun at this book – a bit of a challenge given its plot, but not impossible. Nevertheless, I stand by what I said, and am confident I’d write the same kind of review no matter the ethnicity of the protagonists.

     
  2. lea49, 25. July 2009, 2:18

    i loved the book and am awaiting the sequel .Can we /please/ not read anything else into it other than a great yarn…….i think it is a realistic idea of what COULD happen if such a pandemic had its way……….who cares if the characters are white/brown/black………can’t we just enjoy a story without political crap………we are one……as I think Michael Green tried to portray

     
  3. Kiri Kohu, 12. May 2011, 13:58

    Wow Jane, you might want to reconsider your job as a book reviewer, where did you get the idea this book is white supremacist, I am a maori and in no way did I think the part where an isolated group of gang members had turned cannibalitic was rascist. This was one of the most well thought out and written books of this genre I have ever read and you are the first person to my knowledge that has been negative about it. As to your comment about poking fun at it, go ahead love I think you’ll be the only one laughing.Maybe you should stick to reviewing books more to your liking, I think mills and boons have some good ones out at the moment but they maybe abit too in depth for you. Keep up the good work though.lmao