A WORLD TORN
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After the War for Oil, treaties and truces quickly broke down between countries. After there wasn't enough oil to go around for everyone, the countries themselves broke down, turning states into fractionated fiefdoms. Soon even the states broke down until it was virtually every town for itself. Civilization died. The big cities did better than the small towns sometimes.
Then into this decay of human spirit came the Vampires. They'd been there all along, slowly destroying the human infrastructure until the very framework of human society was utterly decimated: Until humanity no longer possessed the unity to stop them. The Vampires assembled Thralls: Humans, given through the Vampire blood, twice the speed and strength of a normal human (but still nowhere close to the awesome power of a true Vampire). The Thralls went out to the small towns and communities first, terrorizing, and then enslaving more humans, creating more cattle for the food source, and more Thralls for the Vampire Army, until their might made the final push to overwhelm the fortified cities and end the reign of humanity forever.
Then we get to Chapter One!
It's two years after the Vampire's final solution and, well damn it! You can never quite get rid of all the pesky rebels! In World War II, Germany surrendered in 1945, but the outbreaks of fighting and attacks on Allied soldiers continued for nearly 12 years.
Yes, rebels can be a pain.
Especially these particular human rebels, in one particular city, who are able to get a hold of guns and grenades and attack ruling Vampire families in their homes and destroy them. Nobody knows who they are, but the Satrap of the big city, Nero, is not above butchering all of his Thralls who fail him, and using them as examples to the freshly "minted" Thralls who come after.
Derek Gunn's tale of Vampire's taking over the world is a good one. Derek holds close to the Frank Murnau and Tod Browning vampire rather than the Bram Stoker version. But that's okay since few give a damn about Stoker's work outside of lip service and the most popular vampire bestseller's of the last twenty years follow the Movie formula and not the literary one. From Rice to Hamilton to Niles and more, most writers do the same thing: Vampire + Sun = Poof. I don't hear anyone bitching about THEIR bestselling work!
VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: A WORLD TORN ASUNDER is nearly a fun read, bristling with energy and explosive timing. But...
Think of your favorite meal. It doesn't matter what it is, just think of something you enjoy eating that has a lot of ingredients in it. You have it in mind? Good. Now you've probably had the best of that you've ever ate, and you've probably ate the worst of that you've ever tasted.
What went wrong between the two of them was likely preperation and ingredients. Let's say I'm mad for Lasagna (Vampires wouldn't like it, too much garlic, but that's why I could never be a Vampire). I readily know the difference between a lasagna made with fresh ingredients and one made out of cans and foodstuffs that were left sitting around getting stale. I know the difference between a lasagna that was perfectly cooked and one that was under or overcooked.
Reading Gunn's work is akin to eating that delicious meal and biting down on a garlic skin. Then another, then realizing that, as good as this Lasagna is, its probably full of Garlic skin and was made with Kraft singles for the cheese.
Spelling errors abound. What is the deal with all of the "Loosing" in place of the word "losing"?
Why is there prose like this?
"They burned when they hit and Thiebes felt the agony of round after round that hit home. The two vampires he used as shields too the brunt of the attack, but many bullets hit home."
This is a book put out by a publishing company, not a vanity press. So where was the editor for this? Why are there so many mistakes? Believe me, I'm no William Safire or William F. Buckley. I don't hold perfect English above telling a good tale. Those who do usually can't write a stirring piece of fiction to save their lives. Even Shakespeare took liberties. Hell, Mickey Spillane took liberties, but he knew what the rules were and where to break them.
Another of Derek's trouble is in creating his world.
When you lay down the logic of your story and characters, you need a damn good reason for betraying that logic. On the one hand, Derek wants his story to seem all real and scientific. The character of Pat Smith is the resident chemist, which will have to do for a scientist under the circumstances. This character lends a logical credibility to the fantastic, which is all well and good.
So what's the deal with the Vampires getting burned by Holy Water? If you want to have a supernatural story, no problem. If you want to have a science fiction story, that's just fine. But when you have page after page of your characters building their weapons according to all of these scientific principles that your resident egghead discovers, and then the handy Catholic Priest just walks by, blesses some water, and you wipe out half of your attacking vampires with a really good squirt, why the hell are you wasting time with the damn chemist? You've got a well full of water! Make that Priest pray over it until his knees fall off! Fantasy is fantasy and science fiction is science fiction.
Finally, there's the scene where a human turns into a Vampire. Derek has made it clear that the people who are holding out against the vampires are all on edge. They see danger in every shadow and jump at unexpected noises.
So when Nurse Sandra Harrington discovers that Jack Walton, at death's door just the day before after a near fatal bout with Thralls and Vampires, has inexplicably healed far too fast for any normal human, she merely shakes her head in amazement!
Then as she leaves, Jack asks her to turn down the lights. When Harrington asks why, Walton - the one with amazing powers of healing - says, "I'm sensitive to light."
And a red light never flashes in Sarah's mind.
Don't get me wrong. There's a very good, powerful story here. VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: A WORLD TORN ASUNDER is fun, entertaining, and a good start to a series. But there's a little too much cheese in this Lasagna and it's made of Play-doh.
This review copyright 2008 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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