Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Predatoress – review

Author: Emma Gábor

First published: 2009

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The Tale of How I Defeated Dracula and Became a Force for Good Is Finally Told…

Immerse yourself in the story of the war, waged inside me, against forces over which I had no control. I confess, I’m ashamed of some of the things I was compelled to do. Yet this is the story of love’s victory, which is becoming known to the world just now.

It starts in September 2003 in the ancient town of Sopron, Hungary, when one of Dracula’s spawn turns me, Emma Gabor, an 18-year old college freshman, into one of The Undead. I become a blood-thirsty but reluctant vampire, constantly questioning my morality as I foist myself upon victim after victim.

Compelled by survival and unwilling to tread this path alone, I vampirize my three best friends, Kati, Gizi and Eszti. We go on bloodthirsty rampages every night, luring our victims through charm and sexuality or simply overpowering them with tricks and violence.

Out on the town one night at Club Colosso for a joint feeding session with my friends, I dance with Zoltan Szabo, a genetic research fellow at the university, who is also the love object of my friends Kati and Eszti. We form a friendship based on scientific interests and fall in love at a charity ball held in the ancient castle of Frakno. We consummate our passion! I now realize that working with Zoltan could be the key to freeing my friends and me from this terrible scourge of vampirism! I must, with great pain, hold back from telling him the truth and from making him one of The Undead…

The review: It is difficult to know where to begin, but… let’s begin with the blurb. Emma Gábor – character named after the author – does not defeat Dracula as Dracula does not feature in this mess of a book.

If we tackle the prose, it is bad. Clumsy and badly written narrative coupled with ill chosen dialogue that sounds nothing like natural speech. Seriously, I don’t know whether the Turing Test can be extended to prose but, if it can, this could well fail. It really sounds like a machine generated much of the prose. Even the name of the book is a clumsy, invented word that is used by more than one character in narrative/dialogue. On her website she continues the idea that she is the main character – even if that were so, and English was not a first language, this would still be poor.

The characters, in the main, are two dimensional – ciphers for the impossibly ‘perfect’ character of Emma – turned into a vampire and yet beautiful and so intelligent that she understands the ins and outs of genetics and the mysteries of DNA at the tender age of 18. I put perfect in quotation marks for a reason – she is the most singularly unlikeable character; too narcissistic and unpleasant to be a heroine and too whiny to be an interesting villain.

She and Zoltán are able to (within three months) cure vampirism and AIDS – and yet the science used by the author is awful pseudo-science. The all too intelligent Zoltán suggests that “the body is 99.7% electric. The only parts of the body that are not electrical are the bones in your teeth, your fingernails and toenails. That explains why nails continue to grow after you die.” As well as the fact that the teeth don’t contain bones, we have to remember that nails don’t grow after death – the skin shrinks and shrivels giving the optical illusion of growth. Zoltán cures vampirism and AIDS using a Rife microscope – the inventor Royal Rife patented a high intensity lamp for use with microscopes in the thirties, something clearly superseded by modern technology. What I think the author was trying to mention was a Rife beam ray machine – a conspiracy regarding this was invented by author Barry Lynes and the alleged machine has since been at the centre of many health fraud cases.

Indeed Emma seems to think that her activities will cause a vampyric (she uses the y and no e spelling, ie vampyr, through the book) plague at an exponential rate that brings us to the vampire lore used in the book. In this a vampire must replenish their entire body's blood content – it seems – daily. Each victim rises as a vampire (and depending on the author’s mood this is immediately or after a short period of time) and must go and feed and replenish their blood by feeding on another - an exception, mentioned at one point, is a hotel clerk not fully drained who will either simply die or survive and finger Emma and her friends as the villains, and so they ensure he is drained. Being ‘good at maths’ she calculates that everyone in the town will be vampires in 5 years. No, the exponential increase would be much quicker than that. Indeed – for no explored reason – she mentions that vampirism started 550 years ago. By my reckoning the world would have been turned some centuries earlier.

Despite suggesting that vampirism is a curable disease we have wholly supernatural lore elements. They cast no reflection and, in a throw away comment 333 pages in, we discover that garlic and crosses are deadly to vampires. They are nocturnal, with the compunction to sleep in coffins during the day, preferably below earth – though they never actually do. They used to need (according to legend, as the author puts it) to sleep in native soil but that altered over the centuries (one wonders whether that was the legend that changed or did the vampires evolve - the prose is indistinct) and must be near native soil – taking a small amount with them if they travel. Staking and beheading will generally stop their blood sucking ways but they can also contract AIDS and it makes them ill, hence Zoltán needing to cure AIDS as well as vampirism. Incidentally, the idea of vampires contracting AIDS is nothing new, the film Requiem for a Vampire (2006) was entirely based on that as a premise.

So, bad writing, bad editing (there are typos peppered through the book and the typesetting looks cheap and nasty), horrible characters, a poorly thought through plot, pseudo science and bad lore. The book saddens me because I like to find something positive and constructive to say about anything I review. The only thing I could think of is the fact that I like to read at lunch break, when at work, and we all had a good laugh in the office when I read sections of bad prose to co-workers and we fell about laughing… a positive, in so much as it made me laugh for all the wrong reasons.

However the book does contain a concept of a vampire internment camp, poor conditions within it and Amnesty International getting involved with the detainees' plight. This was almost breezed over but made for a kernel of a good idea that might have been expanded on – though the writing would have to vastly improve to make it readable.

The book has a powerhouse of marketing behind it. As well as contacting myself and asking whether I wanted a review copy (and I am sure that many another blog and review site have been contacted), you can buy a version of this with a bottle of “blood” wine, perhaps that will be enough to encourage sales. I'm afraid the book is not recommended. 0.5 out of 10.


Zahir Blue said...

Wow. I'm not sure but that might be the lowest score you've ever given anything. Wow, again.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Zahir, certainly the lowest score I've ever given a book - films have scored zero or a half before now...

That said this was probably the worst written book I have read, ever... not just vampire genre, but any book.