2.5 Stars - Recommended lightly to readers familiar with genre/Not as an introduction to genre
There are times when I get my hands on a copy of a novel, and begin to wonder if I'm reading the same version everyone else is reading. You know, that one novel that was love at first sentence... that rocked your socks... that blew your mind... only to see that everyone else reviewed it with one or two stars? Where you are left staring at the computer screen at a loss for words, wondering what the heck is wrong with everyone, flabbergasted at how they didn't see what you saw in that novel?
Well, earlier this week, I was sitting on the opposite end of the book, wondering what everyone else saw that I just didn't see when they read David McAfee's vampire novel 33.A.D.
The book seemed right up my alley, in so many ways: Vampires and Christian Conspiracy! Blood and Gore! Secrecy and Revenge! It's Indie! and rather unknown!
It was recommended to me anonymously on Goodreads, and after reading the blurb, and seeing the great reviews it was accumulating, I contacted David and asked if he would send me a copy for review. Which he very graciously did. (Thank you David.)
Even though it sounded like it was a perfect match for me and my tastes, I just could not get into the writing. It began rather rough for me and just never got any better.
David creates an alternate Roman history in which Vampires walk the world unnoticed by humans. Secretly, they have a separate authority that they answer to, and kill for. And when one of their own breaks the rules and betrays the society of vamps in order to join Jesus and his followers - all hell breaks loose. It's humans against Vampires in the sneakiest, bloodiest battle Jerusalem has ever seen.
In order for this very ambitious story to work, David had to make some adjustments to the history of Jesus and the events leading up to his crucifixion. Now, alright, don't get me wrong, I'm not religious by any means, and I certainly do not claim to have read or remember much of what takes place in the bible, but there are just certain things that should never ever be touched, and I suppose I have to draw the line at the deception and crucifixion of Jesus. He rewrote history to illuminate the fact that vampires were the ones who actually set Jesus' downfall into motion.
The vampires do not represent traditional vamps - big fangs, blood sucking, feeding off humans. Rather, they kill more often than not with swords and super long extendable claws. Due to the lack of vampiric behavior and David's unaggressive way of describing characters, I had to keep reminding myself that the novel contained actual vampires for the first 100 pages or so.
Some of the conversations that took place happened during "fight scenes" where two vampires were attempting to kill each other, or a vampire and a human were locked in combat, and came off as forced and awkward. I am certain that if I were clashing swords with a vampire, I would not be talking to him about anything. period. I would be swinging that sword like hell or running for my life. And then pleading for my life when he caught me. And then most certainly dying a horrible, bloody death. the end.
There were a few points throughout the book where I found myself engaged with it and anticipating what was coming next. But more often than not, I was putting the book down and focusing on other things, putting some distance between myself and it. The urge to pick it back up again, sadly, was not very strong.
I admit, once I hit the half way point, to struggling with the idea of setting the novel down permanently. But I am not the type to leave a book half finished. So I kept picking it back up until suddenly, I was reading the final page.
I would be lying if I said a little sigh of relief did not escape my mouth. God, that sounds harsh as I write it. But it was a mix of so many different things for me. I was disappointed. I was craving a real honest-to-goodness vampire novel - especially after reading the dud "Fangland" - and it just did not deliver.
Here's to hoping that I find the perfect vampire novel for me. And here's to hoping that this becomes a favorite vampire novel for someone else. Perhaps for you?