Monday, August 22, 2016

Indie Book Corner: The Family: The Brotherhood, by Donte M. McNeal
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Strong character drama amidst violent futuristic gang warfare.

The Family: The Brotherhood is Donte McNeal's first published outing and it is a wonderful debut.  I've been keeping up with many of Donte's stories such as Godhood: The Ascension and Stardust.  I loved those stories for their over the top combat, unique worlds, and colorful characters.  The Brotherhood exemplifies many similar qualities to those books, but it is also vastly different and I'll tell you why.

For starters, the Brotherhood is a much more grounded book.  The story stars Leone King, a noble young man who is just out to do the right thing.  Leone lives in a world ruled by poverty, corruption, and violence.  It's a world where those who can't protect themselves are subjected to the violent whims of local gangland overlords.  Leone grew up in such a world along with his best friend Nicholas Black.  Both boys grew up with differing upbringings and mentalities and thanks to a life changing event both gain very different visions of how to handle this violent lawlessness and thus is born the major conflict of the book.  We have Leone opting to bring people together in a vast community of well-meaning people just out to make a better world and we have Nicholas who wants to climb to the top of the food chain and simply rule over all the chaos himself.  What comes of all of this is a very interesting drama filled with a ton of great character relationships and conflicts.

While this book is very different from the other Wattpad stories of Donte's, a single thread links them all and that is strong characterization.  I can't help but to really care for the characters in each of his stories, especially this one.  These characters honestly feel like people I've known over my 27 years and many of them of people I'd like to know.  Not only do the characters possess several dimensions, but each of them serves more than one purpose in the story as well.  No one really feels wasted here.  Leone and Nick could carry the book entirely by themselves, but Donte's superb cast of sub-characters really make it all stand out as something more enjoyable.  For me to memorize ANYTHING, especially character names is an accomplishment and so me memorizing them all deserves some kind of gold metal on the part of the author.

The plot itself is very straightforward, but teases at more complexity in the sequel.  Here, it simply serves to move Leone and Nick's character drama forward at a nice pace.  I have no problem with that here because the leads and their conflict were so strong.  Their scenes together were definitely the highlights of the book, especially the bloody tension-filled climax.  There were also a few subplots thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.  The overall concept of the story, one of a good gang vs. a bad gang, is handled nicely.  There is some retrospection on the very nature of what a "good" gang is with Leone questioning the role he and his group plays, so it elevates the book beyond simply being a simple action book.

I had one hell of a good time with this book and feel that it sets the tone greatly for a successful series run.  I can't wait to see what else Donte has in store for these characters since the ending teased something absolutely insane.  Being a friend of Donte's, I can't help but feel it'll be something very unexpected.  Have a look at it yourselves and tell me what you think.

The Quick and Dirty

+Leone King is a very relatable lead who just wants to do the right thing.
+Nicholas Black is a great foil for Leone and a very fun character to read.
+The Family is a unique organization with interesting, far reaching, and noble goals.
+The sub-characters all shine brilliantly.  The Family feels like a...well, a family.
+A good and satisfying portrayal of leadership and its hardships.

Where to find Donte

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