"Bloodlines" by Marcus James isn’t your average high school romance novel. If you want to recapture the memories of your high school love, your hands caressing in passing in the corridors, looks exchanged in the boy’s bathroom or whispered conversations at the back of Ms. Hansen’s English class, then "Bloodlines" isn’t the book for you. If you aren’t afraid to explore the deeper and darker sides of love, fear and humanity, and you fancy the supernatural, then this book should already be in your hands.
The story arc was unexpected and constantly evolving. I imagined the initial high school setting to continue throughout the novel, but when Talbot killed himself and awoke as a vampire, he inhabited a new life that was completely cut off from the mortal world. I was introduced to the nature, culture and civilization that vampires inhabited. A story about high school bullying and isolation changed into a story about identity as Talbot learned his way around the vampire world. "Bloodlines" shifted a second time as it evolved seamlessly into an epic fantasy novel that delved deep into the rich nature and history of vampires, resulting in a war between pureblood vampires and those who were created.
Written as a commentary on the rise of LGBT suicide in result of bullying, "Bloodlines" uses immortality to explore identity, healing and the value in experiencing both the good and evil in life. Talbot, a strikingly handsome 17-year-old senior in high school with long lashes, deep green eyes and dark auburn hair only saw himself through the eyes of his bullies. He saw life through the lens of pain, torment and abuse. Unable to deal with the isolation from being gay, he jumped off a ledge, killing himself by the end of chapter one. That’s when the real story began, when Talbot got a second chance at life as a vampire.
"Bloodlines" shows what life could have been like for Talbot if he didn’t take his life. For all LGBT teens that struggle with their identity, "Bloodlines" shows that life does get better.