Blood Drive: Just a bunch of Anti-Vampire Propaganda.
Just a bunch of Anti-Vampire Propaganda.
Blood Drive, by Daniel Aegan, stunned me with its creativity, wit, and dry humor. It's satire, but it's not on-the-nose satire. You could easily read this book thinking it's deathly serious with its approach to vampires, but just beneath the surface lies subtle social commentary, boundless movie and tv allusions, and solid writing to boot.
Within the first few chapters, I immediately found myself reminiscing to evenings with my family as a kid watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You've got your religious vampire hunters, sassy bad boy vampires, and crazy werewolves. Throw in a few weird behaviors of the vampires, actions sequences straight out of the Boondock Saints (yes, I know, not Vampires) or even Blade.
And the true charm of the book is that it's self-aware. It knows how ridiculous many vampire films and stories are . . . and then plays with those ideas and subverts them in creative ways.
In the end, the book ends up feeling like a classic B 90's Action Film; one of those movies that you know isn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't intended to be a masterpiece. It's entertainment value is what matters, and if you pick up Blood Drive, I promise you'll be entertained . . . and maybe think about what it means to be human, too.
On to the scores!
Writing: 7/10. Generally solid writing, there were a few scenes that fell flat in execution and some minor typos throughout. The author occasionally slips into third-person omniscient while the story is primarily told through third person limited of a different character in each scene, which is always a slightly jarring experience when POV shifts. However, nothing detracted from the narrative nor distracted me.
Characters: 9/10. Every character on the page plays a role, and many, even non point-of-view characters, find growth throughout the story. The story loses a point, though, for its lack of a significant women playing a role. There are a few side-characters that are women, and many of the victims of the vampires are women, but none of the drivers of the story are women. Now, given the story being told (and some of the underlying social commentary of the narrative), it does make sense that the main characters are all men. However, the fact that the lack of women stood out to me is worth noting.
Plot: 9/10. The characters, and their choices, are the blood of this book; and they're driving the whole way. I know, I crack myself up. Evan, Christian, Father Matthew, The Russo Brothers, even Pete; it's all about agency in this book, and they all make choices that push the story toward its action-packed climax.
Setting: 9/10. The story just takes place in America; but behind the veil of the modern day United States, Aegan actually develops a complex hierarchy of vampires, werewolves, and even Papal interactions with this "evil" underworld of bloodsuckers. In only 230ish pages, that's impressive!
Overall: 8.5/10. Argh! The 8.5s are always hard. I'm going to lean toward 4 Stars on this one, but it's more like 4.5 stars. I can't give it a 5 because I don't think it compares to my other five star reviews, but it's incredibly close. Well done, Aegen!