Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vaempires: White Christmas, a review

The loving heat here in Southern California has kept me from my work. To be specific, it has kept me from work at home. The laptop is too warm. My eyes are tired. And the Fall semester has just started. But, I still have vision enough to review the last couple of things I read this summer. Sadly, I didn't get to read as much as I wanted to.

This was one of them: Vaempires: White Christmas by Thomas Winship.

I didn't say this before, but the covers to this one and Vaempires: Revolution are very catchy.

I'm currently learning about graphic design using Adobe's Creative Suite 6, so I'm appreciating the artwork differently. All very well done.



Daniel, Cassandra, and the Vaempires return for a prelude that explores the world of Vaempires: Revolution a little further. The premise is that months before the events of the first book in the series, the leaders of this imagined world must find a diplomatic solution to the decaying relations between Humans, Vampires and Vaempires--mostly the anger rising in the Vaempire race over the failure of science to find a synthetic substitute to Vampire blood (which they need for sustenance).

What didn't work for me:

This isn't really a gripe, but Vaempires: White Christmas would not make sense if you didn't read Vaempires: Revolution. It is an excellent companion novela, but on its own it lacks certain elements that would make it a complete story--the ending only foreshadows the devastation of Vaempires: Revolution. Yet, I have to believe that Mr. Winship meant it to be this way, which is why it's not really a grip.

One thing that both worked for me and didn't work for me (odd) was the way in which Daniel gushes over Cassandra. OMG! Yes, I said that like a teen girl. OMG... It was a little too much for me. I understood that Daniel has strong feelings for her, but come on... come on... did we really need to say, "He looked at her and time froze"? Maybe just a tea-spoon of that would have done it. But I did say that it also worked for me, so I'll explain that in the next section.

There was a curious omission near the end. The whole purpose of the meeting in the mountains was to reveal a certain scientist's findings on the Vaempires. I'm not sure I got what the revelation was, but I have my guesses. It didn't have to be new information (I think it had to do with the Vaempires' mutant powers), but that wasn't explicitly said.

What worked for me:

Let me make a few points:

*This has quiet moments! The first novel in the Vaempires series is non-stop action, but White Christmas takes time to develop the private lives of its protagonists (Daniel directly and Cassandra indirectly). It's running theme is restraint

It is the yang to the ying of Vaempires: Revolution and its exploration of the evolved man. The story looks at the restraint shown between two teens who have an attraction to one another; it explores the restraint of politicians before deciding on military action; and yessssss, it looks at the restraint of our nature--those chains that culture and society place on the animal inside all of us. 

*Yes, the teenage love that Daniel feels for his Cassandra was excellent. I had to appreciate it as a writer. Puppy love is very difficult to draw because male teens react to it in such an amplified way. Here that is given to you in all its glory. The POV, which excludes Cassandra a lot of the time, works perfectly to create this fantasy world in Daniel's head.

Oh, if I didn't relate to it, I don't think I would have believed it. But it's all there. The way in which we deify the object of affection. The ridiculous conclusions we come to when she says something or doesn't say something. The way we interpret their every move. The only thing missing was the wet dreams. It's an interesting study in teen male psychology and effective characterization; it filled in Daniel more than the first novel did.

*The reason I felt so strongly about this prelude was its treatment of political haggling. You can't call it anything else. It's haggling. Within the same nation you have these two factions, the Vampires and Vaempires, who are unwilling to come to peaceful solutions to their problems. It is clear that the Vaempires desire outrageous steps from the Vampire government and are too proud to compromise; their absurd wish to see a prominent member of their race married to Princess Cassandra as a token of peace is a throwback to the days when marriage forged treaties. 

But it isn't just the Vaempires at fault. The Vampire leaders have an equal share in this fault. Oh, yes, the book hints that Vampires are the source of the Vaempire aggression. It's the type of story that doesn't paint one side "good" or "evil". 

Look at the way the Vampire king refuses to acknowledge them as a people, even though they are obviously a different race of humans. Look at the way they refuse to invite representatives of this mutant race to their political table. Look at the way the leaders of the world treat the Vaempire mutation as a disease to cure. Though well-meaning, the Vampire government breeds the hatred that will destroy it in Vaempires: Revolution

It is a beautiful allegory for our the race relations in our country, and perhaps in countries abroad. I read the Federalist Papers after reading this, particularly Number 14 by James Madison--it is ever relevant in subject matter. 


I'm looking forward to the next installment of the Vaempire series (called The Evolutionary War). I warn you that you should read Vaempires: Revolution before attempting to read this one. Once you have, you will have a greater appreciation for the characters involved in this tale. 

Vaempires: White Christmas, is well woven with comedy and a stern look at interracial political dealings. But it is fun the way this vampire story explores a world where they are no longer the monsters in horror movies. It's an excellent read.