Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fat Vampire

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age StoryFat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story Adam Rex

I really wanted to like this. I liked the premise-- fat geek boy gets turned into a vampire against his will, doesn't have awesome super powers, and will be overweight and 15 for all eternity. To top it off, a basic cable show that is about to be canceled (despite the fact it has a huge cult following) is tracking Doug in an effort to boost ratings.

There was a lot of great homage to geek culture and being a theater kid that I enjoyed.

But... right when it was about to take off, Doug starts getting some human blood (instead of the cows he had been drinking from) and turns into a giant jerk and the book takes this weird turn that... ugh. I was enjoying it fairly well-- Doug was annoying but overall pretty sympathetic and then, BAM! it was like when Jacob turned into a werewolf and became just as bad as Edward. As I told Dan, it wasn't bad enough to just stop reading, but it wasn't good enough to hold my interest for more than 20 pages at a time. And it was supposed to be funny, and trying to be funny, but wasn't that funny.

The parts focusing on Vampire Hunters, the cable show hunting Doug, were the only parts I tended to find humorous.

There were also a lot of threads that never turned into anything, but took up a lot of pages. Sejal is the Indian exchange student that Doug has a crush on. Sejal also has "The Google" which is a disease that is somehow different than severe internet addiction, but how, I never fully understood. But when she tells people she has "The Google" they visibly recoil. This is supposed to be related to some character development in how she learns to live in the real world, except that's never developed very well and everything would have worked a lot better if she were just plain addicted to the internet.

One thing that really annoyed the hell out of my as a reader was Doug's never-ending use of the word "gay" as a pejorative. While I'm sure this is entirely realistic language for teen boys with self-esteem issues that they cover with insults and bravado, page after page of reading it just really turned me off. Doug gets a second of slight redemption when he sticks up for a vampire who Doug thinks is being targeted for being gay but... it doesn't really go anywhere. Also, based on some of Doug's comments about fictional gay characters, I couldn't decide if Doug trying to save the gay vampire from a perceived hate crime was an attempt to show that Doug in a positive light, or if it was just meta. And all the new vampires are turned into vampires by a guy (not the same guy, but a guy) but they all say it was a young, hottt girl. Because they don't want their undeath to be too gay. Part of me understands the issues surrounding teens and sexual identity and comfort in that, but that whole thread... didn't add much. There's also a subtle moment when a friend of a friend (and probably the friend's date) storms off after a long tirade of Doug calling everything gay, but no one ever really puts two-and-two together. Doug sure as hell doesn't. And while I do appreciate realistic dialogue, page after page after page after page got tiresome and annoying. Much the way I'm sure some readers feel about over-use of the f-word. I'm not going to say the book shouldn't have done it, because I think it's realistic that Doug uses language in that way. I do, however, wish that we lived in a society where it wouldn't be realistic. Also, surely at least one of the theater kids that Doug and Jay have started hanging out with, even though the theater kids were too cool for them, would have called him out on it? One points out that one member of the group might be a lesbian but no one ever calls Doug on his shit. It was just so overdone and there was the subtle moment where Doug's homophobic comments makes someone uncomfortable enough to leave, that I thought it was going to some redemptive moment, because otherwise, what was the point? I keep wondering if this, like "The Google," was trying to make a point and go somewhere that just ended up fizzling.

In the end, I was rooting for the vampire hunters to get something right and deal with Doug in order to put everyone out of their misery.

The book held a lot of promise, and has been getting great reviews, but didn't work for me in several ways, on several levels.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

Bibliovore said...

I thought the first half was a whole rollicking ball o' nerdy fun, and then Doug turned into the jerk he always was. And the ending frustrated me.