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You Suck: A Love Story

by Christopher Moore

 

Yay! Our site’s first book review! Of course, who else would I have chosen for this great honour but one of my favourite authors, ever? Well, so much for my lack of bias… Still, I pride myself on being perfectly able to view anyone’s work objectively, no matter how high up on my favourite-all-time-desert-island booklist his 2002 tome, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, may be.

Disclaimer over. We are gathered here to give Our thoughts on his newest hardcover endeavour, You Suck: A Love Story. The story is actually an unbilled sequel to his 1995 hit, Bloodsucking Fiends, wherein one C. Thomas Flood émigré of Incontinence, Indiana, has found the girl of his dreams while working as a night clerk in a San Francisco Safeway. The only problem with Jody is that she’s one of the Undead, a Child of the Night, a vampire; but due to her innate hotness and her vamp-regulation sexy wardrobe, Tommy somehow finds a way to cope. Bloodsucking Fiends ends with Tommy having encased Jody and her eeevil vampire sire, Elijah Ben Sapir, inside of bronze statues in order to keep Jody from running away. Fraught with regret over his actions, Tommy conscientiously drills ear holes into Jody’s statue, so he can apologise and reveal his true feelings for her. Jody, having learnt some cool vampire tricks, later transfigures into mist and escapes her confinement, and turns Tommy into a vampire. His first awakening as a bloodsucker is where You Suck begins.

The book reads like the day after all the bombast of the end of Bloodsucking Fiends where Tommy, his old companions from the Safeway, and the omniscient Emperor of San Francisco, try to save the city from the terror of Elijah Ben Sapir while keeping Jody safe. Tommy and Jody have trust issues to work out (His well-mannered Midwestern upbringing fiercely protesting Jody’s murdering him and resurrecting him as an eternal night crawler without Tommy’s tacit say-so); we see the perils of Tommy’s first hours as a vampire (Chapter 2: The Last Poop), and their now shared goal of scoring fresh blood night after night. We also get an update on some of the supporting players in the previous book, namely Tommy’s old Safeway crew, the Animals, who have fallen into fortune since helping to confine Ben Sapir and have just as quickly thrown said fortune away on Blue, a Las Vegas hooker, whose all-over blue body paint gimmick fortuitously plays upon the Animals deepest, darkest, Smurfly desires. We also get an update on the ever-watchful Emperor of San Francisco and his trusty royal guard, Bummer, a feisty Boston terrier, and Lazarus, a serene golden Retriever. It is only through their constant vigilance and intimate knowledge of the streets on which they sleep, that San Francisco is still standing. Where ever there are the Undead, you will find the Emperor and his men ready to charge.

Sadly, even the further exploits of the loveable Emperor and his trusty lieutenants cannot save this book from being a joyless disappointment. There seems to have been no real fire to create this sequel, outside of Chris Moore’s kind response to his fans, to whom this book is dedicated, and as such the story goes nowhere. I liked C. Thomas Flood in Bloodsucking Fiends; his fish-out-of-water charm was endearing. The Animals were a hilarious comic relief to Tommy’s troubles, and the plot was actually had a beginning, middle, and end. Here Tommy, the Animals, and especially Jody (who I admit I never warmed to in Bloodsucking Fiends, and she hasn’t improved an ounce in You Suck) are just plain tiresome. The meandering subplots of the machinations of Blue, and the SF detectives (also from Bloodsucking Fiends) simply either go nowhere or are just not that interesting. Even Chris Moore’s razorblade turn of phrase is barely enough to make you care, but there is one light of hope….

Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Miss Abby Normal. Here is the one saving grace of the entire book. So much so, that I wonder if the whole thing wasn’t written just to introduce her. Tommy and Jody are finding life difficult on only 12 waking hours a day, so Tommy decides that he will find them a minion; someone to do the vampires bidding during the daylight hours and protect them while they sleep – a Renfield. They couldn’t have asked for a better one than the former Allison Green, Abby Normal, a sixteen year old Goth and student of Allen Ginsburg High School comes across The Vampyre Flood, as she refers to Tommy, in an all-night pharmacy and immediately recognizes him for what he is. She serves herself up Tommy and Jody’s servant and her “Chronicles” which appear throughout the book are really like a pair of defibrillator paddles to the entire flatlined story. In her journals is where Chris Moore really gets to shine as the brilliant humourist I’ve read time and again. His superlative grasp of her sixteen year old vernacular is stunning and you wonder how many high school lunchrooms he stalked with a tape recorder to get it down. Whatever he did, it’s perfect, Abby is real and hilarious and very sweet, despite her propensity toward “I F*** the Dead” t-shirts, piercings, and fabulous magenta-on-black hair. Her “OMFG, W00t”s, and her propensity to turn herself into the hero of each journal entry are precious. Her loyalty to Tommy and Jody is absolute, despite Jody’s initially dismissive attitude toward her. In a quiet moment with Tommy after one of Jody’s insults, Abby states “So... the countess is kind of a bitch.” Testify. Abby Normal makes this entire book.

Okay, spoiler time: skip down past this paragraph if you don’t wanna know … I think one of the sadder disappointments of You Suck is Tommy doesn’t just up and leave Jody for the brilliant Abby. I never got Tommy and Jody anyway; outside of some “hot monkey sex”, they never seemed to have a thing in common. Jody has made no bones about using him first as her own minion in Bloodsucking Fiends, and now in You Suck, she makes him a vampire without his consent to keep her company. Jody has not improved from the cold, demanding, self-centered character she was in the original story, and when compared to vivacious, brave Abby who truly seems to adore Tommy (and not just because he’s her “Dark Lord”), it just makes less sense. A 11th –hour venture by Jody to do something selfless for Tommy doesn’t make up for it, either. Throwing Abby a last minute lust interest just seems like a deflection from the obvious chemistry between her and C. Thomas Flood. Pity. Maybe for the threequel? Spoils over.

So, my dears, it is with a heavy heart I would have to say that if you are considering You Suck: A Love Story as your first experience with a Christopher Moore book, I would advise against it. Try Lamb, or The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, instead. While You Suck is certainly not a bad book by ordinary measures, I simply expect more from Moore.

 

 ~ Mighty Ganesha

April 3rd, 2007

 

 

 

 

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