Black Fall (The Black Year Saga #1)
by D.J. Bodden.
Jonas Black is your typical teenager- 16, with a girlfriend, school, and favorite playlists he can’t live without. Sure, he has a missing/dead father, and mother he barely sees, but no one is 100% normal, right? Then strange things start happening and he learns just how far from normal his family (and he) is. The world he thought he knew is really just the surface. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons – they are all real, and dangerous. And, of course, all balanced in an ongoing political struggle for power and dominance. Which Jonas is now smack in the middle of, courtesy of who and what he really is.
This was a fun read. I’m generally a fan of ‘let’s take these supernatural creatures and make them have to blend in to modern-day city life’ set ups, and this was no exception. Trying to imagine 6-foot-plus bulky werewolves behaving in Manhattan streets is always good for a chuckle. I liked the ideas the author had for how vampires would cope with trying to blend in with a daylight world. I also really liked the take on vampiric mental powers, and the kind of mental worlds where those battles take place – those were well-done and a unique angle. Jonas as the narrator is decent; believable as a teenage boy and interesting enough to keep the story moving. There’s a good range of supporting characters to round out the story. As the first book in a series, this ends at a point where the book’s main plot point wraps up, but you can see the series arc taking shape. It’ll be a good place to dive in for book 2.
All that said, Black Fall is the author’s first novel, and I think another round of edits would’ve been useful in certain places. Some of the sections were a little disjointed; one scene would seem to cut off midway, and then we’d be somewhere else. Also, the music angle didn’t really do anything for me. I didn’t really care about the specific band or song Jonas was listening to (and none of them were familiar to me, so it’s not like it helped set the mood). It felt a bit like a gimmick, but ultimately a harmless one, so I just ignored those bits. The only other point I would make is that while I appreciate fast-paced stories, there is such a thing as too fast-paced- this book would’ve benefitted from slowing things down and adding more depth and backstory.
Nothing about this book was mind-blowing or a surprising twist on craft, but then that’s not always what I’m looking for in a book. Sometimes I just want a good story that’s easy to read, and this delivered. If you’re looking for a fun, YA supernatural read, give this a go.