Title: American Vampire
Author: Jennifer Armintrout
Redonk Nutshell: Smart ass vampire gets stuck in a cursed podunk town
Official Synopsis: Buried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years…and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers at all. Jessa’s the only one to even remotely trust him, and she’s desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide. Supplies are low, the locals are ornery for a sacrifice and there’s a monster more powerful than Graf lurking in the woods. New men are hard to come by in this lonesome town, and this handsome stranger might be Jessa’s only hope for salvation. Even if she has to die first…
The first thing that pulled me to this book was the cover. For whatever reason it screams Bret Easton Ellis to me (American Pyscho crossed with Glamorama anyone?). Graf McDonald is no where near Patrick Bateman (it’s ok if you’re not getting these references – just know that Patrick Bateman was a PSYCHOPATH), but he definitely has his quirks. Like his car. And his don’t-give-a-shite attitude. Graf is on his way to a 4th of July celebration of epic proportions when he gets stuck in the town of Penance, Ohio. When I say stuck I mean it in the most literal sense of the word. No one can leave. You drive around in circles and always end up where you started. The real kicker, though, is that there is some sort of beast that is tearing the town apart and no one can do anything to stop it. Good thing Graf came along because if anything can stand up against a crazy ass beastie is a vampire.
Enter Jessa – she’s the pretty girl who can’t shake the shadow of her poor decisions. She’s shackled herself to the idea of her ex-boyfriend, who is married to her former best friend. Stir in a bit of small town mentality and you have a recipe for a not-so-secret affaire. Jessa runs smack into Graf while she’s running from It, aka the beastie, and together they manage to escape. Though at each others throats, they opt to team up. And they need each other more than they realize because the residents of Penance are about to go all Salem Witchcraft on their asses and demand retribution for the increase in Beastie activity.
After cooing over the cover I found myself intrigued by the premise of the story. I, for one, have always been a sucker for vampire stories, especially contemporary ones. I’m really, really picky about which ones I read, though, because vampire books are a dime a dozen these days and frankly most are horrible. I’ve been intrigued with vampires since I was a kid – I made the mistake of watching Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula when I was waaaaay too young and it scared the bejeesus out of me. I fixated on it, my childhood brain trying to rationalize the concept of vampires, and thus my vampire fascination was born. My personal expectation of vampires is that they’re supposed to be scary. Yes, they’re dark and charming, but really it’s an attractive slip cover over a ferocious predator THAT WANTS TO EAT YOU. In my mind, a good vampire story should inherently scare you. Sure, they can be sexy, funny, etc. but there should be a factor of them that reminds us they’re the epitome of supernatural.
American Vampire didn’t do that for me, at least not with it’s vampire premise. Graf is a hot shot vampire who has no qualms or misgivings about what he is or what he has to do to survive. I didn’t find anything about him remotely terrifying, though Armintrout did a good job of highlighting his supernatural abilities – a vampire with quick reflexes and a profound ability to survive gruesome wounds. What did creep me out was “It,” aka the beast/demon. Armintrout did a fantastic job explaining what It looked like, and it was FASCINATING. Unfortunately, the chill factor lost it’s potency for me about 3/4 of the way through the story, about when we find out who is responsible for the demon’s presence. I can’t really fault the author for that, though, because that edge almost always loses it’s sharpness once that unknown factor is no longer, well, unknown.
All in all, American Vampire was fun but not one I see myself reading again. It’s a quick read, and I didn’t really find myself invested in any of the characters. I was disappointed with the ending – it was a fantastic way to end, but I felt jilted, wishing there had been something more.
What I loved about this book: This would make a great beach book
What I didn’t like: Not a story that’s going to stick with me
Romance: 2/5 Raunch: 2/5