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Friday, May 6, 2011

Christopher Moore: VAMPIRE TRILOGY

Plot Type:  Comedic Urban Fantasy (UF)
Publisher and Titles:  Simon & Schuster
        Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (1995)
        You Suck: A Love Story (2007) 
        Bite Me: A Love Story (2010)

     You could call this series grim and gritty urban "fun"tasy, or you could call it paranormal sitcom noir. Whatever you call it, the books are hilariously funny one minute and horrendously dark and violent the next. The plots meander from place to place and character to character, with everything and everyone connected in both predictable and unpredictable ways. Characters appear out of nowhere and change the story line completely. And yet, no matter where these plots take us, we're chucklingeven laughing out loudall along the way. I enjoyed this series tremendously. Even when I sometimes became annoyed at a particularly silly plot twist, the humorous dialogue kept me reading on to the end.

     If you enjoyed Mark Henry's AMANDA FERAL series, you'll probably like this one. They have the same mix of frenetic humor and dark violence. Other series that are a close match for the highly charged humor are Amber Benson's CALLIOPE REAPER-JONESMaryJanice Davidson's QUEEN BETSY/UNDEAD series, Angie Fox's DEMON SLAYERS series; Julie Kenner's DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM series and SUPERHERO CENTRAL series; Cara Lockwood's DEMON series; and Stephanie Rowe's IMMORTALLY SEXY series. Moore has written many other humorous books. Click HERE for his list of books on booklist.

                        NOVEL 1:  Bloodsucking Fiends                        
     Set in San Francisco, the story opens with 26-year-old Jody Stroud being attacked on the street and waking up in an alley under a dumpster. You'd think that would be the worst experience of her day, but...noshe soon discovers that she has been turned into a vampire. Jody's sire (Elijah Ben Sapir, an 800-year-old vampire who is bored with his immortality) has disappeared without telling her what comes next. He did, however, leave her a huge amount of cash, so she holes up in a dark hotel room to figure out where her undead life will go from here. 

     First, she needs a daytime minion to take care of mundane details like renting an apartment and getting her car out of the impound lot. Jody finds her minionand her true lovein the person of 19-year-old C. Thomas Flood (he added the C to make his name sound more important), newly arrived from Incontinence, Indiana, to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a famous author, like Jack Kerouac. As the two begin their relationship, Jody's sire makes their lives miserable by killing street people and trying to frame Jody and/or Tommy for the crimes. 

     The book climaxes explosively (literally) as Tommy's stoner night-stock-boy crew (aka the Animals) from the Marina Safeway helps him get rid of Ben Sapir. Just when you think you know how the story ends, however, Moore adds just one more twistso don't read the ending first or you'll spoil it for yourself. An eccentric pair of homicide detectives, a street person who calls himself the Emperor of San Francisco, and an Asian biochemistry college student named Steve complete the cast of characters. Pay attention to Jody's downstairs neighbors (the electroplating artists) because they have an unpredictably important part in the series. 

Funniest parts: Tommy's adventures with the Wongs; Tommy's reminisces about his home life back in Indiana; the Animals' recreational activities (e.g., turkey bowling, soapsud-skiing behind the self-propelled floor-scrubber); Tommy's vampire research, especially his experiments on Jody to determine the limits of her vampiric traits; and the turtle's attack on Jody's pretentious mother.

                            NOVEL 2:  You Suck                             
      Jody and Tommy keep trying to have a normal life, without much success. They decide that if they can find a new minion, things will get better. Tommy finds a willing minion in Allison Green. She calls that her day-slave name, "But on the street I'm known as Abby Normal." (p. 187). Abby is a goth girl and a vampire wannabe who keeps a hilarious diary of her life. In the meantime, the Animals have spent their newly found riches in Las Vegas and have returned with Blue, a hooker who dyed her body blue to capitalize on the notoriety of the Blue Man Group. Although Jody promised the detectives that she would leave town immediately, that has not happened and probably won't. Jody and Tommy's lives are too complicated for long-term plans; they are barely making it from one day to the next. When drained bodies of street people start showing up again, Jody is sure that her sire is still around, but unfortunately, Ben Sapir is not the only murderous vampire in town. Eventually, Abby hooks up with Steve, the college student from book 1, and the action picks up. Once again, the ending comes twisting out of nowhere, so don't read ahead.

Funniest parts: Jody and Tommy's adventures with Chet, the 35-pound cat; the licentious escapades of Blue and the Animals; Tommy's to-do lists; Tommy and Abby's initial meeting at Walgreens; and The Chronicles of Abby Normal (interspersed throughout the book).

                             NOVEL 3:  Bite Me                             
Unfortunately, this is the weakest of the three books. It begins with a 20-page (way too long) recap of the series so far, and then kicks this story off with a feline vampire attack on the Emperor, led by Chet, the huge cat from the previous book, who was turned into a vampire by Ben Sapir. Chet is growing bigger and bigger, both mentally and physically. He has his own fangy army, and they are decimating the street folk of San Francisco. In the meantime, Jody and Tommy are out of commission for reasons explained at the end of the previous book, so the first 75 pages go by with just Abby's diary and the Emperor's adventures. Abby's diary continues to be humorous, but her goth-girl vocabulary and her weird outlook on life are getting a bit old by now. As the plot unfurls, five different sets of hunters go after the cats: the two detectives, the Animals, the Emperor, Jody and Tommy, and the three vampires who spirited Ben Sapir away at the end of the previous book. Eventually some of these groups work together and some work against each other. The story ends with an HEA fizzle rather than an explosion, but the various characters' futures are relatively believable, as believable as possible, that is.

Funniest Parts: Abby's "I'm a Nosferatu now" scene; various scenes with Foo, Jared, and the rats; and Jared's over-caffeinated, bronze-smashing dance.

     Here are a few examples of Moore's humor in this series, probably funnier in context, but you'll get the idea:

     Jody goes to the Macy's cosmetics counter for a makeover, where the gay beauty consultant "does her colors" and discovers that Jody is a Winter Woman: "The Winter Woman is as wild as a blizzard, as fresh as new snow...She prefers sharp to flowing lines, brooding to pouting, and rock and roll to country and western. Her drink is vodka, her car is German, her analgesic is Advil. The Winter Woman likes her men weak and her coffee strong. She is prone to anemia, hysteria, and suicide." (Bloodsucking Fiends, p. 196)

     When Tommy is ignored by an officious office receptionist, he opens his portable typewriter and begins to typeignoring her eventual question: "What are you doing?" Tommy finally says, "It's a note. Let me read it to you. 'Couldn't anyone else see that they were all slaves of Satan? I had to cleanse the world of their evil. I am the hand of God. Why else would security have let me into the building with an assault rifle in my suitcase? I am a divine instrument.' Tommy paused and looked up. "That's all I have so far, but I'll guess I end it with an apology to my mom. What do you think?" As you can guess, Tommy now has the receptionist's full attention. (Bloodsucking Fiends, p. 87)

     At one point, Tommy is briefly thrown into a jail cell with a "six-foot-five, two-hundred-fifty-pound, unshaven, unbathed, one-eyed psychopath" with extensive Disney-character tattoos all over his body." Here is part of their introductory conversation:
    "What are you in for?"
    "Nothing," Tommy said. "I didn't do anything."
    "Don't f*** with me, a**-wipe. What were you arrested for?"
     Tommy fidgeted... "Well, I put my girlfriend in the freezer, but I don't think that's a crime."
     One-Eye, for the first time...smiled. "Me either. You didn't use an assault weapon did you?"
    "Nope, a Sear's Frost-Free."
    "Oh, good; they're really tough on crimes with assault weapons."
    "So," Tommy said...What are you in for?" Thinking baby-stomping, thinking cannibalism, thinking fast-food massacre.
     One-Eye hung his head. "Copyright infringement." (He took off his shirt at the beach.) (Bloodsucking Fiends, p. 241)

     Here's Tommy the newbie vampire trolling a trendy goth club for a possible minion: "Everyone, it appeared, looked more like a vampire than he did. He'd bought some black jeans and a black leather jacket at the Levi's store...but evidently he should have been looking for some black lipstick and something cobalt- or fuchsia-colored to weave into his hair. And in retrospect, the flannel shirt may have been a mistake. He looked like he'd shown up at the sacrificial mass of the damned ready to fix the dishwasher" (You Suck, p. 86)

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