Pros: Great characters and an interesting story
Cons: Vampires, again
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Fortitude Scott is a vampire—sort of. Mostly he’s a human who can’t seem to get his life together. He’s in a dead end job, his girlfriend wants to see other guys, and his roommate hasn’t paid rent in months. He could go back to his vampire family and all his bills would be paid, but he’d lose his hard-won independence. Now a distant vampire ‘relative’, Luca, has come to visit, and Luca has a thing for little girls. When two girls go missing Fortitude wants to go after the vampire and save the children, but his older siblings and his mother think he’s nuts for caring. Besides, since he isn’t fully a vampire yet, he’d just get himself killed. But Fort won’t be dissuaded, and with the help of Suzume, a fox-shifting kitsune, he goes after Luca anyway. He just doesn’t know what he’ll do when he finds the bastard.
M.L. Brennan’s Generation V is the start of an all-new vampire series. It starts out with a strike against it there, because it’s trying to be something a bit different and new, but, vampires. All the elements are old, of course (the reluctant vampire, etc.), but I grudgingly admit that Brennan has managed to come up with interesting window-dressing to shine things up a bit. Vampire procreation is odd and surprisingly complicated. It’s intimately linked to the plot at several points, which keeps it from feeling gimmicky.
The characters are great. Fort’s mother is a remarkably powerful woman who has several cards up her sleeve. Fort’s brother, Chivalry, is marvelously stiff and old-fashioned, with some delightfully interesting soft spots. His sister, Prudence, is terrifyingly cold and violent. Fort himself manages to be the sad-sack screwup without being too pathetic, and his odd, constantly-changing relationship with Suzume is fascinating to watch. As for Suzume herself, Ms. Brennan does a great job of bringing out the fox in her.
The plot does get dark, despite Fort’s humorous setup. Some of the twists are a little predictable, but the execution is compelling enough to get past that. In particular, there are some great bits of characterization that truly shine toward the end of the book. While the villain himself is trite and flat, somehow that works in Generation V, maybe because he isn’t really the focus of the plot.
The characterization and the interesting quirks of Brennan’s depiction of the vampiric state make Generation V worth reading, and I look forward to seeing more of Fort and Suzume.