Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So You Think You Want to Read A Novel About Vampires, Do You, Dearie?

I had always thought vampires were supposed to be evil, murderous, and scary.

Then, about 35 years ago, they became exquisitely sensitive and romantic and even beautiful in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and were portrayed by the likes of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the movies.  Now, with the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series and inevitable batch of movies, they have become even more exquisitely sensitive and romantic.   And still very beautiful, in a pasty, vacant, heroin-chic kind of way.  While I haven't read any of these books or seen the movies, I get the impression that they can even be protective of honkies, or whatever non-vampires are called, especially cute female ones. 

Well, dearie, I've got news for you.

Real novelistic vampires, and I mean vampires in real, red-meat, hard-core vampire novels, are, in fact, evil, murderous, and scary.  I know this because I have read a novel called Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, and I novelistically believe every word of it.  Any novel that begins with a guy working late one night in his dreary desk job when his slovenly, loathed boss unexpectedly arrives and before long transforms into a slobbering, furious, hungry werewolf, immediately establishes its credibility with me.  The book's central figure, Owen Pitt, improbably defeats his boss's efforts to kill and eat him, and this act of heroic self-defense comes to the attention of an organization -- the Monster Hunters of the title -- dedicated to suppressing outbreaks of the malign supernatural when they pop up around the world.  They recruit him to join their crusade against supernatural evil, and we're off and running.

Their efforts are not limited to vampires, oh no.  They also battle zombies, several species of demons, werewolves, wraiths, and the list goes on and on.  (There are also some helpful monsters of the elvish variety.)   The battles are violent and bloody -- although some of the bodily fluids involved aren't so much blood as they are goop. 

But here's what you need to know about vampires -- they're not just out for blood and, I guess, chicks these days -- they are planning world domination which involves the end of all other nonvanpiric forms of life (although what they would then feed on remains unclear).   These are bad, bad vampires, and were it not for various organizations like the Monster Hunters, our day of reckoning would have long since arrived. 

The book is great fun.  The Monster Hunters themselves are memorable, there's some romance, the usual friction with federal monster-hunting authorities, and the Monster Hunters organization itself has some deep, dark secrets of its own.  Oh sure, there's massive slaughter, astounding violence, exotic firearms, and serial dismemberment, but the tone is breezy and comedic, owing mainly to the character of first-person narrator Pitt.

One misgiving -- although it moves along briskly, the book is too long.  The mass market paperback version I read is 732 pages and could have easily stood to have lost about 150 of them. 

But if you're looking for a thoroughgoing escapist read -- that is, a read that will tell you absolutely nothing about yourself, the human condition, or the meaning of the universe, then put on your body armor and lay in a good supply of paper towels and Formula 409 and give this one a whirl.

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