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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vamp-O-Rama 4/5: "Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story" by Christopher Moore

Vamp-O-Rama is back on track with another entry into the canon of all things bloodsucking.  Finally, the series of vampire novels is drawing to a close, the next review being the last of this round.  (Yes, "this round", there's a tentative list for "Vamp-O-Rama 2: Raising the Stakes!" already drafted.)  After which, I have several book marathons to choose from, after a resting period of a couple books.  (I might even try to knock off "Men Who Hate Women" trilogy by Stieg Larsson, so as to give myself a reality check.)  For now though, enjoy sinking your teeth into this latest review.

From his picture and in interviews, Christopher Moore looks like a cross between Jimmy Buffett and Dave Barry.  From his writing, he takes after the likes of Douglas Adams (particularly with his humor) with a pinch of Elmore Leonard (particularly in the multiple thread storylines he weaves).  Now, usually when you describe an author in combinations, it could mean that they're uncreative (as well as very, very marketable), but in Christopher Moore's case he's not only very marketable, but he makes other people's formats his own twisted playground of enjoyment.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (the first in a trilogy) tells the story of Jody and Tommy: two crazy kids in the city of San Francisco who have proclivities that trend towards the night.  Tommy, fresh off the bus from Incontinence, Indiana, works the night shift at a Safeway supermarket, so he doesn't have a choice.  Jody is a newly turned vampire, so neither does she but for altogether different (more life preserving) reasons.  Through a chance encounter, these two begin a rather interesting relationship that will lead to a body in the freezer, a boat being blown up, and a couple incidents involving bronze statue art.

Fiends is a lightweight read that breezes by, with no small thanks to Moore's way with prose.  He mixes heavy doses of dark humor with dramatic moments that show his general concern & attention towards the characters.  This really shines in the way Jody is written, particularly her role as a sort of "Angel of Death" figure. Having Jody prey only on those who are dying is a novel way to work around the inherent unlikable feeding habits of vampires, while at the same time not resorting to having them feed exclusively on animals.  (Suck it, Cullens!)  Mostly though, this is a book all about quirky characters and the ways they weave and move between each other in order to push the Universe along its not always merry way, and there are a lot of quirky characters to be found here.

While this book is fun to read, it does feel too much like a first entry in a series.  As is the case, there are some threads that aren't completely resolved by the end of the story, as well as some threads that just don't get much development to begin with.  (The only rival vampire plays a minor role in the plot, the "other girl" is dispatched of as quickly as she's written in, and the "cure" subplot dies out without even a word.)  Again, this is the first in a series, so naturally loose threads are to be expected.  It'd just be nice if they weren't as gapingly open as these threads are.

Moore sticks to the vampire canon quite well, but throws in the fun little plot device of a vampire learning their powers through trial and error.  Here, there is no mentor in the shadows and Jody is left with only a burnt arm due to UV exposure to start her quest for knowledge.  Jody and Tommy go through vampire lore and test out everything we've been told vampires can do, which sometimes ends with rather interesting results.  Indeed, while Moore pays homage to the rites of vampiric passage, he also pokes a healthy amount of fun at them, and this is just another reason why this book is so much fun to read.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story was recommended to me by my friend Dave B., and I have to say that after being exposed to this book I'll definitely read Moore again.  Not only do I want to finish the Jody and Tommy trilogy, I also want to discover some of his other, more offbeat works.  This isn't a perfect book, as it feels a little watered down to make room for two more installments.  It is, however, a captivating and quick read; and for that I can recommend it as a Beach Read and a pleasant distraction.

Let's stake this bitch!  Just one final Vamp-O-Rama title to go!

1. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
3. Vampire Zero by David Wellington
4. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
5. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

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