Monday, July 9, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

On January 12, 2011, I finished a book called Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter, which I had asked for for Christmas because clearly any book with a title like that was going to be AWESOME.

Except it WASN'T, and I wrote a quasi-melodramatic blog entry about my feelings about the book, and then I never published it.  

When the trailer for the movie version (now in theaters) started to make the rounds, I dug up my review to remind myself why it was that this story wasn't half as fantastic as it should have been...

(Written January 2011.)

The concept is simple:  Treasured American hero and noted honesty whore Abraham Lincoln fooled us all into thinking his life had nothing to do with vampires.  But this is WRONG.  In reality, Abe led a double life, one that history remembers and one that was heavy on beheading the undead.  The tragic losses in his life?  Mostly because of vampires.  His skill with an ax?  Totally because of vampires.  The Civil War?  Just as much about vampires as it was about slavery.

Abe chronicled his slaying escapades in an angsty journal which author Seth Grahame-Smith (most notable for his previous book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) gains access to.  What follows Grahame-Smith's "discovery" is Abraham Lincoln's life, rewritten with the "truth" inserted in all the right places...

It could have been brilliant.  It should have been brilliant.

Here's why it wasn't:

1.  I'll start with the most subjective point, which is the method of storytelling.  Quotations from Abe's journal are liberally used to bolster the narrative, often with only a line or two of exposition in between block quotes.  With the story being told in the third person and Abe's diary (obviously) written in the first, I found it difficult to remain immersed in the story while constantly switching narrators. 

However, that's probably a personal preference more than anything, so I'll move on to...

2.  The humor.  Or rather the lack thereof, seeing as how there was absolutely nothing funny about this book.  It's a book called Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter.  And there are no laughs.

3.  Abe's "secret identity" never comes into question, nor does it ever cause any problems for him.  Ever.  He just walks around and kills vampires sometimes and sometimes he doesn't and no one ever really knows or cares or says anything to him about it.

4.  At the risk of sounding insane, the plot was too believable.  The vampire storyline fits too neatly into the existing history of Abe's life!  Where were the near-misses?  The drama we never knew about?!  The evil villains that time forgot?!?

5.  Abe himself is a dark and melancholy protagonist.  I rooted for him not to kill more vampires but to just get shot already because he was depressing the hell out of me.

6.  The entire Civil War, arguably the richest part of this story to insert vampire history into, is crammed into a few short chapters at the end of the book. 

7.  And some other stuff, but mainly, I just didn't think this book was any fun.   

2.5 out of 5 stars.  Well-written, poorly executed.  (Excellent cover, though.)

Anyone else read this book (or see the movie)??

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