Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ by Seth Grahame-Smith


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.

 

On a recent trip to the theatre, I caught the new trailer for the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie.  It looks amazing!  So knowing that the book is usually better than the movie, I thought I’d check it out. 

Readers of my reviews know I love vampires almost as much as I love history.  This was a mash-up made for me!  And I did like it...I just didn’t love it. 

I think what I liked best about AL:VH was the mixture of fact and fiction.  You could tell the author was passionate about his subject matter, because the research that had gone into this project alone was impressive.  Weaving the vampire stories into the slave trade was genius.  I also learned some things about President Lincoln that I didn’t know.  (Did you know Mary Todd Lincoln had mental problems?  I should read up on the First Ladies sometime.) 

The action was also really good.  Abe wielding his big axe and chopping the heads off of vamps is just too cool! 

My favorite character in the book was Henry Sturges, Abe’s vampire mentor.  In fact, I wish there had been more of Henry in the book.  He was a vampire who led the hunting of other vampires.  We learn why eventually, but the mystery of him was compelling.  I wish the author would write a sequel with him as the main character. 

So if I liked history and the action and Henry, why am I left lukewarm?  For me, books are about forming an emotional connection with the characters.  I love it when my heart races along with theirs--when I experience the terror/elation/heartbreak/love the character feels as if it is happening to me.  While I found this book incredibly interesting, I failed to connect emotionally with the characters.  It was like I was almost there--poised right on the brink--but never actually fell over the edge.  I’ve always thought the photos of President Lincoln make him look wooden.  The character of Abe in this books kind of came across the same way.  A couple of times, I almost put the book down, but the concept and the history ended up pulling me through. 

Overall, I give Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks
Historic Elements - 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Eric Bana (Abraham Lincoln), Henry Cavil (Henry Sturges)

3 comments:

  1. I was excited to read this but I never got around to it. The History Channel had really interesting documentaries on him and his family. It may make me more into the book. I'm glad to know it's good (but not great...Hhmm.)

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  2. I gave my wife the book for a present. I think she was skeptical when she saw the cover. But she enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to the movie. But with young kids, I probably won't see it until it's out on DVD.

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  3. It did sound interesting but if the character development was weak I just couldn't get into it.

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