Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vampires Inc. – review

Authors: Rick Taubold and Chris R. Hosey

First published: 2009

Contains spoilers

The blurb: “Vampires Inc.” is the first novel of a trilogy that follows the stories of the twenty-two-year-old vampire Adrian Shadowhawk and his mentor Eli Howard.

These are not your classic vampires. They don’t have fangs (regrettably for some); they’re not predators. They still require human blood (voluntary donations), but they also eat regular food. They have telepathic powers. And they are mortal.

Thousands of vampires exist in the world. At one time normal humans, now they are infected with a unique, transmissible-by-blood virus that has changed them into what they are. For centuries, most vampires have lived a peaceful existence in secret amongst humans.

A hundred and forty years ago, Eli Howard murdered his slaveholder’s family during the temporary madness brought on by infection. In 1905, he helped quell in a violent conflict started in Europe against humans by dissident vampires. Since then, Eli has kept to himself, trying to erase the violence in his past. He teaches at a Detroit college, to help humans better themselves. Adrian Shadowhawk, on the other hand, is less judicious in his behaviour and flaunts what he is to his human friends.

Then Cyrus Hayes, the vampire behind the murder of Eli’s first love, arrives in Detroit. On a quest to make vampires the master race, Cyrus performs unconscionable experiments on humans. With the future of humans and vampires at stake, Eli can no longer stay in the background.

The review: You know, it doesn’t seem fair – the blurb stealing my thunder by not only covering the story but also the lore! Vampires Inc is, as the blurb tells us, the first of a trilogy and covers a type of ‘infected’ vampire. Rather than supernatural the virus works on the host to give astounding longevity, superior strength and mental ability – which includes telepathic powers. The vampires, whilst resilient, can be killed by normal means and sunlight is only an issue in that their skin sunburns more easily and they have an ocular sensitivity to light.

The ‘Vampires Inc.’ of the title is a nickname given to the vampire’s own police force; a body set up during the 1905 human conflict – a conflict eradicated from the history books – and thought disbanded by all bar the High Council. The High Council govern the vampires.

Of course these are only human beings with a virus, but the virus has changed them so much that many – Cyrus Hayes being one – no longer consider themselves human.

The book is exceedingly well written, drawing a believable world around us. Hints to the past – such as Nazi experiments to try and hybridise humans and vampires – build a depth to the book. Taubold and Hosey have built a rather nicely crafted diversity agenda into the book, Eli is African American and a former slave, Adrian is a Native American, their friend Ling is Chinese and Ysabel, the council leader, is Mexican. Adrian’s human friend Drake is a rich (via his parents), white rapper. Yet for all this the primary tensions are not between different ethnic groups but between the infected and non-infected, instigated by Cyrus Hayes – a vampire who sees himself as superior to the non-infected and has been trying to eradicate infected weaknesses via bio-engineering (such as the reliance on blood, female vampire infertility and general – though massively delayed – mortality). This is not an altruistic move on his part, he sees himself eradicating the need for the non-infected to exist. The diversity message suggests that evil will always try to find a way to cause division based on percieved differences.

If I had a complaint, and it is very picky, it was that the book seemed to end rather hastily. After the time taken to draw this world around us and create the primary characters, developing their personas, the pace became breakneck and the ending came all too quickly. That said it is picky and the ending was less a finale and more, being the first of a trilogy, the end of a battle leading into the war.

7.5 out of 10 and the series is destined, methinks, to build positively as it grows. The series’ homepage is here.


Gilligan said...

Glad to see you're still at it, and producing good quality reviews. Haven't dropped you a comment since 2008 (!), but just wanted to let you know I'm still lurking around (and I've got a vampire movie review up at retrospace.... although, it's not the sort of review that gets posted around here).

Anyway, keep at it. You do great work here.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Gilligan... I still lurk around retrospace from time to time too... will nep on over and looksee at your vampire review.