Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith

I don't remember if the movie, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was a huge hit or not. I remember seeing it in theatres (with I think Josh), and really enjoying the movie. It was smartly done with that "tongue-in-cheek" undercurrent, which was the only way that movie could have been pulled off.

I first heard about the author, Seth Grahame-Smith from the book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which by the way, I need to actually see the movie. Quick, was it any good? I didn't hear much about it after it came out, but that's probably a bad sign) and loved the fact that it didn't take the whole zombie or the Austen book very seriously. I know Austen fanatics had mixed feelings about it, but since Pride and Prejudice isn't my favorite Austen book (I prefer Sense and Sensibility more. Yes, a lot of my classmates in my women's lit class had a real problem with that too), so I thought the insertion of zombies was a good touch.

He's one of those authors that kind of fly under the radar for me, personally. After reading Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which I enjoyed, I didn't really keep an eye out for his next books. He's a good writer, but to be honest, I didn't really remember much from both PPZ and Abraham Lincoln, only that I enjoyed it.

So, when Audible threw The Last American Vampire by Grahame-Smith into their $5 dollar sale, like most purchases from that sale, I figured, why not? The voice actor (reader? I still don't know) wasn't annoying (I'm still bitter from Magnus Chase) and like I said before, Grahame-Smith always produced pretty good material.

Honestly, after listening to this book, I want to go back, purchase PPZ and Abraham Lincoln and listen to it... because this book was awesome!

It's definitely fantasy. But what I think makes good fantasy (or bad fantasy) different from great fantasy, is when the "world" or concept, like vampires, is just a tool to to really tell a great story, instead of using said fantasy concept to be the story itself. Grahame-Smith does just that.

Audiobook are really dependent on the voice actor they enlist to read the story. If the actor doesn't get the character correctly, or just blows (I'm still bitter), then the whole story is ruined, no matter how good the book is. MacLeod Andrews (what a name!) is phenomenal. The story is meant to be sort of a transcript. The main character, Henry Sturges, is telling his story to the writer of the novel. The listener feels as if Henry Sturges is actually talking to them and recounting his incredible life story. The powerhouse between Smith's writing and Andrews acting is what made the audiobook such an enjoyable listen.

The story itself is ironic, and tongue-in-cheek, creative, funny and sad. The story is about the journey of the vampire mentor who trained Abraham Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. The book starts with Henry bringing back Lincoln after he was assassinated, and the confrontation between the two right before Lincoln kills himself by jumping into sunlight.

Smith uses British and American history characters such as Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and JFK and many others. He also uses the Romanovs, Rasputin and Nikola Tesla to implement Henry into very well known historical events and lace them with realist fantastical touches. The idea that Rasputin was a vampire (and therefore unkillable) isn't so far fetched.

It's a fun book that shouldn't be passed up because it has the word vampire in it. It's almost reminiscent of early Rice's works, where it's not about the vampires, but state of humanity and the never ending fight between good and evil. Highly recommended.

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