31. They Thirst – Robert McCammon
Some of the territory this book covers is familiar- if only listening, and, say, heeding warnings were revered qualities. They’re not in this book and they don’t seem to be in real life either. If only.
Anyway, this is McCammon’s take on the ensemble vampire story, and he chose a large amount of space to work with, which works to his disadvantage. It’s lengthy and wordy and a little flat in a way that reminds me of They Live (They live, they thirst. They’re doing so much!) and it’s not going to show you anything new if you’ve already read any vampire books, or, say, The Stand and Salem’s Lot. It’s one of McCammon’s early novels, and having read the later-written Swan Song first, I can see attempts at what he will achieve with an ensemble cast and a slightly out of the way supervillain. I am inclined to give some points for effort, although certain characters that become important are completely out of left field when they suddenly appear (Ratty…) and others with potential are too flat to invest in because there are so many people to follow (Andy and Solange, in particular). The main aspect that interested me was the Hammer Horror throwback of the castle.
Mortemer and Belvedere in their own ensemble drama. Father and son, scampering over a quilt on a double bed, scampering in search of a good hiding spot… to take a nap.
49. Blood Legacy – Prudence Foster
Florida- scene of many neon-hued, blood-soaked evenings scored by synthesizers. I imagine if this novel had made it onto film they would have gone with off-brand classical played on a broken keytar – extra loud cues every time main character Angelique has a hysterical moment. Sometimes characters take things in stride or try to make sense of bizarre situations like a pale, apparently enticing (from the description, he has terrible hair) Count courting a bookstore owner with a fondness for overreaction, Angelique just goes all out with the hand waving and wailing and frankly, I was hoping she’d just give in to the dark side. I think she would have been a lot happier…but that meddling police lieutenant got in the way, as they do when you need someone with a solid moustache and a sport coat to keep the histrionic bookstore owner from realizing their destiny.
Side note, while trying to remember the lead character’s first name (my copy of this ridiculous narrative wasn’t handy), I found that two of the reviews on Amazon got the author’s name wrong – Who is this ‘Prudence Board’ that writes such amazing works? – while extolling the virtues of Blood Legacy. Suspicious.
Horace doing his best Halloween version of Manhunter. So dramatic and orangey. Do you see?
44. The Strain – Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
So, I like Guillermo Del Toro, quite a bit. Details like the Hellboy II elf prince guy’s blood looking exactly like McDonald’s barbecue sauce not withstanding- even though I was fond of that and consider it to be a clever observation regardless of whether or not it really is clever- I feel like I can usually trust his world building and storytelling for the most part. I really enjoyed Pan’s Labyrinth. Anyway, The Strain had some serious-level clunkiness and suffered a bit from the “this is a novel, but we’d prefer it to be a screenplay of some sort” syndrome.
I do not care for Ephraim. That is not helpful when reading the book. I also do not care for his family. Whatever, Kelly. My lack of concern was not helped by the television show, at all. In fact, it made me totally hate Zack. There is no award for not doing what you’ve been asked to do for your own safety, kid, and if there was, Carl is, was, and always will be the winner…emeritus. Get in the house, Carl! Where’s Carl? Carl is not in the house. Moving on yet again, I also feel bad for the actress who plays Kelly because she keeps playing characters who end up in relationships with supernatural creatures – or are trying to, like she was on Bitten. She’s got a really good “concerned” tone in her voice, but I hope she someday gets into a better supernatural relationship, one that doesn’t kill her like on Being Human or turn her into a bald vampire like on The Strain. I haven’t really moved on, have I? My favorite things about this first of the trilogy is that it spawned a really disgusting advertising campaign for the TV show, that the Abraham Sertrakian character is played quite nicely by David Bradley, and the A.V. Club comments section for the TV show recaps wherein the discussion of Corey Stoll’s wig in the episodes is delightful – I agree, the wig’s state of disarray really does convey the majority of the emotion Ephraim the annoying is feeling.
“The wig is not that bad!” – Belvedere
“Yes it is! You know it is.” – Pickles
13. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group – Catherine Jinks
The previous novel in this series was excellent – except for the eating of guinea pigs…I’ve tried to make it clear to people that guinea pigs, based on their gestation period alone, are not the best choice for vampires – or the stupid hospital people on The Walking Dead (All the guinea pigs would have been dead already unless there were already some in the constantly air conditioned hospital and no one stressed them out during the initial stages of the zombie apocalypse…unlikely. Rabbits and rats already have wilderness experience, breed way faster, and rabbits are bigger! Ahhh! I will never get over these bad choices!) – partly because of how it altered the perception that vampires are so strong and full of stolen vigor. Jinks’ vampires are creaky and full of sloth, probably because they eat relatively inactive domesticated animals (see photographic evidence provided by Pammy and Twiglet below).
The werewolf sequel does not suffer from a lack of action, and thankfully some of the vampires do show up to slow it down a touch. It’s much more of a kidnapping story than a werewolf story. I’m not entirely sure that it was a good choice to speed the sequel up so much and throw it completely into action-territory as I ended up feeling like I didn’t really know the major characters. I was just following along to see what happened without any real stake in the outcome.
Pammy and Twiglet being relatively inactive. They were champion synchronized nappers and loungers. Eyes on the prize, ladies.
12. Soulmate – L.J. Smith
I did not know of the Night World series, or any other L.J. Smith series, actually, until I found a bunch of Night World books in the detritus of a closing book store’s YA section in 2014. I was looking for 1970s, 80s, and 90s YA as I usually am and the 1990s editions of the series have the most amazing covers. They’re paintings (of course, like I’d really be attracted to photography-based covers in YA…so 2000s…) of the main female characters (sometimes with special guests) surrounded by flowers and weird monster and demon faces and one face that really looks like wolf form attacking Lucy in the rain-Gary Oldman-Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and ravens and black cats and this one has a candlestick and they are bizarre and awesome pieces of book coverage. I know that this one was published in 1997, when I was a freshmen in high school and had moved on to reading Interview with the Vampire and Silence of the Lambs, but if I had known about this series when I was a teen I would have totally loved it. The female characters are well drawn and considering these are always romances, they’re feisty enough to not drive me nuts with their romantic angst (they’re certainly not swooners or “rape me and I’m yours” types) and I know I would have totally related to them –minus opportunity- when I was younger.
Soulmate concerns a romance throughout the ages, kind of like what Gary Oldman-Dracula is trying to imprint upon Winona Ryder-Mina in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and by the way, I dug that movie quite a bit when I saw it as a teenager (surprise surprise); you know, “I have crossed oceans of time to find you” and all that other shit vampires say to not look like pedophiles to high school girls who don’t recognize them for the creepers that they are. Anyway, Hannah aka vampire dude’s soulmate, current body edition, is seeing a psychiatrist and it brings up repressed memories of her other lives with said vampire, and how said vampire murdered everyone she knew when they first met (and her) and it’s an interesting path to reconciliation. I know that the soulmate concept has a bigger part to play in the Night World, but I don’t have the whole series and I haven’t read all the ones I do have yet, so I have no idea where it’s going. Hopefully not a sad, couple filled kegger. Maybe Thunderdome for couples. I do know that I shelved the re-published, multiple books to one volume, covers featuring bland black and white photographs of random, staring girls versions of these books when I worked at the public library and I was not even remotely intrigued to read them. That was a shitty re-design, people. A shitty re-design. Those lonely, staring girls do not say “I have charisma and well constructed female characters inside.” They say “You will be alone forever inside the black void.” I, like, already know that.
Thaddeus knows Pickles is not his soulmate, that would be Pammy, but they still enjoyed each other’s company without dramatic protestations and no prehistoric villages had to be slaughtered.
1. “Seventh Wave” – Devin Townsend
2. “Satellite” – TV on the Radio
3. “Freya” – The Sword
4. “Sweet Leaf” – Black Sabbath
5. “Schyssta Logner” – Witchcraft
6. “Night City” – The Sword
7. “All Black” – Hanni El Khatib
8. “Long Time Coming” – Droids Attack
9. “Mouths of Madness” – Orchid
10. “Moonchild” – Fields of the Nephilim
11. “Satan/Dance You Fukr” – Zydepunks
12. “Bruane Brenn”- Kvelertak
13. “High Road” – Mastodon
35. Dead Ever After – Charlaine Harris
The end of Sookie, except, I guess until October when there’s something else about this universe coming out. I do think that knowing that there is one more book, whether it’s just supposed to be a coda or not, cheapens things a bit. Especially since I felt like everyone and their dog – hey, Terry’s Catahoula Annie (I believe that’s her name) – showed up in the last one plus a new character or two.
I think that with all those cameos and all those “they seem like they’ll be okay or they’re far away” sort of endings, a coda isn’t really necessary. Every series has its end. Sookie has to be persecuted and kidnapped, Quinn has to show up in an outfit that will haunt me, Eric has to be a dick, the vampires in general mess with everyone’s schedule because they’re so bureaucratically ridiculous about their state-based marriages, and basically all is as it should be in the ending. It’s fine. Not unlike The Office finale, it’s mostly about checking in and tightening up loose ends. But I have to admit, I cried a lot during The Office finale (the Phyllis flamingo killed me, as did Mose gazing over at the scarecrow, and Dwight describing his relationships with his employees and calling Pam his best friend, sniff) and I barely registered the end of the Southern Vampire Mysteries – no tears. Normally, I cry very easily, it’s almost impressive how I can think “this should be an emotional moment” and my eyes are immediately twitching, even if I’m not really personally interested in participating in the emotions that are happening. I guess I thought the Sookie Stackhouse books meant more to me than they do. Just like watching every single season of The Office, I committed to reading all of those books, even when they seemed like placeholders and I was irritated.
That said, it’s impressive to write such a long series with such vibrant characters and so much going on. It spawned a ridiculous and enjoyable television show, the covers are neat-o, and there’s a coda coming out this year so no one ever has to feel any longing to know what happened for the rest of time! It’s a whole. I’ll never know if Mose managed to get that scarecrow to gaze back.
Even Twiglet and Pammy have ends. Fuzzy ones.
14. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
Holy developments, Batman! Finally. Something felt like it was happening. On occasion I could tell that the last book was being foreshadowed, but I’ll let that go because some relationships and plot points managed to come together into a story where stuff happened and, overall, foreshadowing is not bad. Being able to see the hand of the author smacking you in the face with a cluviel dor, on the other hand, um, I won’t say anything about that either.
Sookie ran quite the gamut of emotions, which was great to read. She seemed to be really taking stock of her place in the world and since this is the penultimate book of the series, she picked a really good time to do that. Harris picked a good time to scale the world back a bit as well. At times while reading the series it felt like I needed a roster of all the characters so I’d know who the hell Sookie was talking about now – I can say that I’m a fan of combining people to make the action tighter, why were there so many people around when Victor was murdered? So many loose ends, so little time to tie them up. In the end of Deadlocked the world got a little smaller and that’s for the betterment of the ending. Certain characters matter more to the story than others and deserve a proper send off. It’s a little hard to montage in books too, I mean, you could tell your readers what song to play while they read the tiny vignettes about what happens to everyone that may or may not happen, but they may feel that the books are ruined by the song choice. You can’t please everyone in a montage. Montage.
Ham-fisted foreshadowing: Ozymandias may appear more often. He may not though, he has a bladder stone and those things only arrive to take guinea pigs from me right after we bond significantly.
Filed under Books, Review
8. Buffy Season Eight: Twilight – Brad Meltzer, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty…
So, classic couples twist. Okay. Right. I think this review, which pops up on Amazon as an example of the reviews, and rightly so, says it all: “The big reveal makes very little sense” – SJ Parker. Thanks, SJ, that’s exactly how I felt.
Let’s bring back that whole “cookie dough” discussion, shall we? Because it wasn’t hard enough to hear it the first time, and then that time during that Angel episode (I liked “The Girl In Question”, some people didn’t, but Angel and Spike banter is where it’s at when you’ve read many, many whiny vampire stories, it’s nice to hear them properly sound like five year olds instead of being expected to take the whining seriously), and now they’re here again- Baking! Oh the shenanigans!
Murderface does the lean of dissastisfaction.
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7. Buffy Season Eight: Retreat – Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty…
I don’t think I’m liking this eighth season deal. Now that May is unofficial vampire month here, I might as well deal with the confusing mass that is Buffy: Season Eight. At least in a couple of volumes. So I read graphic novels sometimes, usually only when they’ve made it to trade paperback collections because I don’t like to wait and I’ve never really been a Wednesday person. Buffy and Spaced are my two favorite television shows of all time. Sometimes Metalocalypse makes its way out of my mouth (obviously) when asked about my favorite shows too, but if we’re talking live-action it’s Buffy and Spaced at the top of Favoritism Mountain. Any continuation of Buffy is something I’m interested in (or Angel) but there’s something extremely off-putting about this series of comics. Maybe it’s the gigantic change in format, maybe it’s that some of what happened throughout the volumes would have been reserved for separate seasons if it were still a tv show and really that just goes back to change of format, maybe it’s my inability to remember what happens in these for more than an hour after I read them…but it’s not as much fun for me. I feel like I’m reading a Syfy Channel imitation movie of Buffy where now she can do absolutely fucking anything. Anything. And everyone’s come up against wacky new creatures who need no explanation whatsoever or context – Thricewise? If it’s a comic and we’re not restricted to a one hour broadcast time perhaps providing lots of context is possible. Maybe it’s possible! I should read the collections again but my first impressions of each volume lean mainly toward “annoyed” in retrospect. Perhaps some completely frozen CGI birds would help.
Retreat continued the disjointedness by removing some magic and presenting Oz, his wife, and baby and then some attempts at meditation and other happinesses. I’m still confused about parts of it and sometimes I find the idea that one could attain a totally clear head and be at peace irritating. Right now, in the middle of this stressful journey away from the enemy, they can clear their heads? Really? It’s just beyond my threshold of suspension of disbelief, behind the grazing pony and those frozen CGI birds.
Baby Belvedere has become the chosen one of his family – he did not use that positioning to mar the legacy of any late 90s television shows with extraordinarily random plotting or peacefulness.
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2. Nightlight – the Harvard Lampoon
I have not read the Twilight saga, nor will I. I tried to read the first page and I watched the first movie because it was tinted blue and I like movies with lots of shots of trees in certain tints, see also Pet Sematary II (to me it’s the superior Pet Sematary film because of the tree shots), Silence of the Lambs, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Beyond the trees, and the fact that I introduced Pammy and Pickles while watching Twilight and they were friends for thirty whole minutes, I have no positive experiences with the Twilight oeuvre. I honestly think Bella Swan is just a personality-less shell that’s easy to project yourself into and Edward’s total creepy pedo nature gets overlooked because a. for some reason people have a blindspot when it comes to the creepy predatory aspects of 100+ year old dudes hitting on high school chicks and b. stalker behavior is seen as “cute” or “desired” in romance movies and books. Or maybe it’s the sparkles. It could be the sparkles.
Moving on, Nightlight was pretty funny. My favorite aspect of Nightlight was that “Edwart” wasn’t even a vampire. That was excellent. The prose reminded me of the prose I avoided reading by never getting past the first page of Twilight and it also reminded me of this exercise that Anthony Doerr made a room full of people including me do one time: 1. Read a page of the DaVinci Code. 2. Analyze said page and find interestingly foolish things like silhouettes with red eyes and other bullshit language that you read past so quickly because your brain isn’t even processing while you’re reading because it’s so damn easy to mentally digest.
This is definitely a case where I preferred to read the parody rather than the original without any apprehension of not getting the jokes. I can appreciate the function (barely, but as a librarian I see that they have their place) of books like the DaVinci Code and Twilight and the works of James Patterson because lots of people don’t want to have to think while they read and can get attached to the shells and cheese of characters; but that does not mean I will read them, even just to see what the hype is about. I like reading brain candy too, I’m not trying to be pretentious, it’s just that I like my brain candy to have well defined characters. I enjoy reading about people more so than I enjoy reading action and plot and I totally despise certain tropes, so I’m pickier about my brain candy. For example, I really liked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong and I bought it as a mass market paperback. The characters were strong enough and the action was amusing to follow. However, I didn’t care much for Armstrong’s YA series with the pendants on the covers because the characters and details were not strong enough and I know she could have done better but she was talking down to the YA audience. I’m still kind of pissed about that. Damn it, missed opportunities!
This seems like the best possible opportunity to display this photo of Murderface peeing and Pickles chattering her teeth in discontent. It brings to mind a certain bouquet of emotions and actions that would make an excellent young adult novel. Maybe that towel is magic and can only be activated by guinea pig pee. Always bring a towel.
Filed under Books, Review