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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith


I've seen some reviews for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter that made it look promising, but it's a hardcover, and it didn't look that promising. But then someone at work read it and offered to let me read their copy.

As it turns out, I'm not sure it would be worth the price of a paperback, either.

Don't get me wrong, the concept of the book is a really, really, really, good idea. And I did enjoy parts of it.

I'll let the blurb speak for the concept, and then I'll talk about what I liked and disliked about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

The problems, for me, were:
  1. Pacing - I put the book down more than once, with the idea that I wasn't sure whether I would pick it back up. I did pick it back up, but when I finally finished it, it was because it was in my car during my daughter's softball practice, and the battery on my netbook was starting to get low.
  2. Length - This story could have been told in half the words used to tell the story. In fact, if that had been the case, then I think it would have received a much higher rating from me. The story itself is a good one, it's the way it is told that is the problem.
  3. Prose - it was written to be a dry retelling of someone's life. And I get what the author was trying to do with that. I think he was attempting to go for the irony of the dry and factual way it was told, versus the fantastical tale of what was actually being told. But it didn't work for me. Again, if it had been done in half as many words it may have worked.

But my biggest disappointment was in a lack of closure. The book starts with the author being approached by a man who lends him Lincoln's journals, for the purpose of the author writing a book based on the journals. Once the author had told Lincoln's story, I expected him to tell us about the people he interviewed, and I expected him to tell us about the subsequent conversations he would have with the man who lent him the journals. We didn't get any of that.

I understand that the book is being turned into a screenplay, and will eventually be a movie. I think that this is going to be one of those cases where the movie will be a whole lot better than the book.

Book Rating: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: 5 of 10

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