Friday, November 28, 2008

30 Days of Night: Eternal Damnation – review

Authors Steve Niles & Jeff Mariotte

First published: 2008

Contains spoilers, third in a series, will spoil the first two books

The blurb: Raising the stakes in an already perilous situation, the elite members of a clandestine government sect have taken it upon themselves to become the arbiters of pain and violence against one of the most terrifying forces humanity has ever encountered. But there will be a heavy – and horrifying – final price to pay for both sides of an inhuman struggle that now threatens to spill over into an unsuspecting world…

The review: I was very taken with Rumours of the Undead, the first all prose foray into the 30 Days of Night universe. This feeling continued with immortal remains a book that had some tantalising new lore that could push the series in strange new vectors.

By the blurb this would seem to have changed direction, being from the perspective of Operation Red-Blooded. However there is plenty from the point of view of the vampires also. Unfortunately the book stalls, big time.

Let me explain. The pulp fiction writing style is still as readable as ever, but as for the story, well by the comments left below my review of immortal remains it was clear that folks wanted to know what happened to Dane. Well I can tell you – he died. The death of the character didn’t particularly serve any higher plot function or prove a brave move by the authors either. Instead the book seems to go out of its way to systematically kill off most of the characters that have developed over time, trying to return us to a status quo that existed prior to the first graphic novel. Of those who do survive the cull, and I’m thinking mainly Eben and Stella, they lose their status as undead anti-heroes and become just another cog in the maintenance of the status quo.

As for the exciting new lore... It is clear that a second bite can offer a far greater strength to the undead, Eben bites Stella just as Dane bit him in the last book, but the reason why this works and the advantages it offers are really ignored to a great extent. The human/vampire hybrid child, baby Dane, whom I didn’t want to spoil in the last review is mentioned in passing a few times before being unceremoniously killed off – whilst this sends Stella nuts for a while it is fairly much a damp squib of a direction, there simply wasn’t anything done with baby Dane that actually warranted the inclusion of the character/lore concept in this or the previous book. Likewise, in this volume an inoculation against vampirism may have been developed but, most probably, it was then lost – hurrah for the status quo.

Everything brave that they tried to do with the universe, every new direction they invented in previous novels/graphics is killed off. Characters we have come to know over many a volume either die or vanish into the ether (don’t get me wrong, killing off characters is too often not done by authors but to kill them all off… well that’s another matter and in this case it felt like closing down directions rather than opening new threads through their demise). The prose may be readable but the story is a damp squib at best. 4 out of 10 is probably generous.

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