Friday, November 30, 2012

Some people, Abraham, are just too interesting to kill

After reading Joyce Carol Oates's Zombie I needed something that wouldn't make me sad I was reading it.* I wanted something I would enjoy. A story I could get lost in and wouldn't regret getting lost in it. I was planning on finding a funny book but I decided to go towards the absurd and picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Because it's not laugh out loud funny. It's not even small smirk funny. But I was a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies so it seemed like a good idea to give this one a try.

With P&P&Z, Austen's romance is really the backbone of the story. The zombies are there, sure, but the main point is Lizzie and Darcy. This time Lincoln's story is the backbone. The book could stand without vampires, but it couldn't stand without Lincoln. The story is a parody, sure, but it takes itself seriously. And because it takes itself seriously, you do too.

The book is a collection of Licoln's secret diary entries, started when he was a young boy. We follow him as he vows to kill as many vampires as he can, usually with his trusty ax. Don't worry, the vampires aren't all bad (and NONE SPARKLE) and he does make make friends with a vampire named Henry Sturges who helps teach him about vampires and find the evil ones.

So yes, the description of the story is ridiculous. But look at the title, you knew that was going to be the case. What I was surprised by was how important the non-vampire elements were. There's Lincoln's first love, his friends, his family, and what seemed like the constant loss he had to deal with. I know there's that chain lettery thing that goes around talking about all of the failures Lincoln dealt with before becoming president, but damn, to see them happen one after another and the toll it can take on a person is hard.

The writing is also surprisingly good. Well not surprising if you've already read P&P&Z but better than you'd expect this to be. I can't speak for the non-Grahame-Smith mash-up books but the SGS ones are pretty great. I mean seriously, I heart this quote
"Living men are bound by time," [Henry Sturges] said. "Thus, their lives have an urgency. This gives them ambition. Makes them choose those things that are most important; cling more tightly to that which they hold dear. Their lives have seasons, and rites of passage, and consequences. And ultimately, an end. But what of a life with no urgency? What then of ambition? What then of love?"
So yeah, it's an easy read but a good one. One I can see myself revisiting. If you've seen the movie, let me know how it is. Cos I can see this being a good one.

*Not like because the book is sad, but sad cos no, please, I don't want those images in my head anymore. (Thanks Brie for reminding me that I forgot to include the footnote.)

Title quote from page 74, location 964

Grahame-Smith, Seth. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Grand Central Publishing, 2010. Kindle edition.