Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Suck: The Review

I love Christopher Moore.  I love him because he writes in a very sparsely populated genre: fantasy humor.  I love him because while his books are very smartly written they don’t leave me feeling like a total idiot for not getting the writing.  (To be fair, I’m very insecure and this is not a hard feat.)  I love him because his characters are quirky and endearing and truly loveable in a rabid fan girl sort-of way.  And I love him for giving me what I really want when I seek out other forms of vampire fiction: vampires in love (*Squee!*) that are actually written well (*gasp*).

As the all-important second book in the trilogy, You Suck accomplishes what Empire did for Star Wars: it’s better than the original and it solidifies the main characters in your heart.  Not only are the main characters more adorable but the new characters are absolutely squeal-worthy.  (Seriously, Abby Normal is my favorite goth girl, EVER!)  And it moves the plot forward overall while still being relatively self-contained, which is hard to do.

The plot, for those of you not following along, is this: Jody (who was a brand-spanking new vampire at the beginning of Bloodsucking Fiends) has just turned her live-in lover Tommy into an undead creature of the night.  While initially appalled he soon comes to dig it enough that the two could have some fun together if they weren’t due to get the hell out of Dodge before two San Francisco cops come to arrest them.  Moving is difficult if you can only walk around during the day so they set out to get a new minion and end up with Abby Normal (who is the most wonderfully written little goth girl you could ever hope to meet and steals the entire show).  Things get complicated when Tommy’s old crew return from a massive blow-out in Vegas interested in getting more money to sustain their new lifestyle, end up being lead back to the vamp who turned Jody due the guidance of their new smurf-colored gal pal, are turned into a small horde of terribly clueless undead and get Tommy and Jody into a whole lot of trouble.  Confused?  Yeah, I’m no good at writing synopses.

At any rate, what makes You Suck brilliant are the same things that made its prequel so great: the characters, the seemingly effortless writing, and the laugh out loud moments proliferating nearly every page.  As much drama, romance and vampire stuff as there is in this story Moore’s ultimate interest is humor and this serves as the glue which holds the rest of it together and keeps the reader hooked.  Are you concerned that the big bad vamp may come back and kill our hero and heroine?  Yeah, but they’re gonna make you laugh every moment until he does.  Do you get the feeling that Jody and Tommy really love each other?  Yeah, but it’s crazy, quirky vampire love not schmaltzy emo love (*cough* twilight *cough*).

An important point here: romance often involves the writing of sex scenes and this can make or break an author.  If you write graphic sex scenes then you’re that kind of author and will never be removed from that category.  If you don’t write any at all, there can be a sense that something is missing.  Moore walks the tightrope by doing what movies did back when sex was still considered indecent to show to a general audience: he writes cigarette scenes.  Like in old black and white movies where it was implied that the two people on screen had just had sex because they were lying in bed smoking cigarettes?  Moore does that by painting a scene of hastily tossed clothing, turned-over furniture and sweaty bodies in need of a shower.  There’s no actual sex but you know it happened off screen and you get the feeling it was passionate.  And most importantly, Moore keeps the humor going by having our young lovers refer to what they just did as “crazy monkey sex”.  I don’t know any other author who can do this.

Another important point here: secondary characters are just as important to love stories as the leads.  Moore’s secondary charters are fleshed out to the point of making you think they are leads.  Abby Normal, the greatest addition, has the language of a valley girl who reads too much Byron (if you have a hard time picturing that it’s because it’s never been done before, to my knowledge) and is so unimaginably great that I can’t put it into words.  The Animals are just as funny as vampires as they were as clueless stock boys.  Blue seems terribly realistic as a former cheese queen looking for a leg (literally) up and the Emperor and his two faithful soldiers become more endearing every page that they’re on.  (I was delighted to learn, BTW, that the Emperor is a homage to a real life celebrity and Moore’s writing of him follows in the lines of great writers like Mark Twain and Robert Lewis Stevenson who both revived the man as characters in their stories.)  It’s a great ensemble cast and the main characters would be nothing without them.

In the end, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book, the trilogy it’s progressing and the author who masterminded all of it.  And I’ll be reading the final chapter (in which my dear Abby is the main character) very soon.

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