Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vaempires: Revolution, a review

I've been holding off on this one. I smashed my right thumb a few days back. It was a disturbing episode. I slammed my car door shut and took a step away from it and then realized that not all of me was going along for the ride. I looked back and my thumb was there, pinned between the door and the car. After I pried it out, I put it on ice and then spent hours trying to deal with the pain. Must have been luck that I didn't break it. While the thumb itself is okay, the nail is numb. Bartholomew thinks the nail will fall off, which amused him. It's the sort of thing that amuses him.

It makes typing odd, which is why I've been reluctant to approach any lengthy amount of writing. But here goes...

Vaempires: Revolution by Thomas Winship.

Overview: 

In the far future, humans and vampires live in relative peace. But a breed of mutated vampires, vaempires, threatens the harmony of the world by executing a terrible attack on multiple world cities, wiping out  the leadership of both men and vampires. Now it is up to the two remaining symbols of leadership, Daniel, the acting King of vampires and Princess Cassandra, the next in line for the throne to stop the uprising. Both are teenagers who had different plans for this special day, Cassandra's sixteen birthday.

What Didn't Work For Me:

Daniel was a little too good to believe. He's as green as any rookie I've known, but he slaughters vaempires with ease. I thought maybe he would have been a little clumsier since it is his first time killing anything.

The gore. I've witnessed real gore and I now have a lack of tolerance for it. In literature, it has to be presented in a certain way for me to digest it. One example in literature is Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, which is as gory as Vaempires (worse even), but in every scene where body parts come off and babies get smashed against rocks, you feel a sense of pity--it is never glorified. In film, Saving Private Ryan also showed gore, but you had to feel sorry for the soldiers, on either side, being slaughtered.

I really, really, really, really, wanted a before look at Orion and its culture before it was destroyed. I know that Vaempires: White Christmas is supposed to be this view, but I wanted it in this novel. I also would have liked more human involvement. This will probably be addressed in the subsequent chapters of this series, but a little more here wouldn't have hurt.

What Worked For Me:

Princess Cassandra is so realistically cool, that it made me look forward to her chapters; the writing style was a little different in these chapters than in the Daniel chapters. It is an interesting phenomenon.

This novel has more in common with the disaster novel, where a natural or man-made disaster has left others to fend for themselves. Some of the scenes that played out as the story progresses made me wonder if the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks in New York didn't partially inspire Mr. Winship. I mean, is it really a coincidence that Orion is a replica of New York city? It is well done.

The energy of the novel. It does not let up. Daniel plows through vaempires en route to Cassie with the intensity of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. The princess desperately moves from dire situation, not as a damsel in distress, but as a woman trying to use every tool available to her to break free.

And this is what really made the novel for me. It plays with the idea of the "evolved being." The main characters are at the top of their society and species, an acting king and a princess, but Mr. Winship reduces them to the level of beasts. They sniff and crawl and slash and gut like animals in the jungle, putting away duty and sense to give in to their primal needs. And the vaempire threat is an evolved species with two opposable thumbs and greater strength and speed. But are they superior or are they a genetic joke?

The question this novel asks is what does it mean to be evolved? It doesn't give an answer, only demolishes answers. You may be a king, but you'll still want to satisfy your need for companionship before rising to a throne--that's why Daniel goes after his girlfriend, the princess instead of setting up an area of operations to coordinate the efforts of humans and vampires. You may be a princess who can use rhetoric and diplomacy to end conflict, but you are never above tearing and killing if diplomacy fails and the laws of the jungle dictate that you must surrender sexually to the strongest male. Have we truly evolved?

I wondered if the that word in the title, revolution, isn't a play on the themes involved. "Revolution" is just one letter away from "evolution," which is what provokes the conflict between vampires and vaempires.

Overall:

There's more than gore in Thomas Winship's vampire novel. If you have a strong stomach and are looking for a fresh take on that tired whore, the vampire, then give it a try. She may please you yet.