Two and a half years of getting advance reader copies, and it still feels kind of cool.
The more influential lit-bloggers get them, but I’m certainly not one of these. Instead, I get them at my job. Publishers send galleys to bookstores so that the staff might read them ahead of time and hopefully be able to praise them to customers when the book is released.
Of course, this works both ways; I have warned customers away from some of these novels. “Look ye upon my wretchedness!” I say, seizing them by the lapels and twitching uncontrollably. “Do not become like me! I have suffered unspeakable hours with this textual bilge, and you would pay to read it? Remember this book no more, it brings only pain.”
Bite Me is definitely one of the more anticipated ones I’ve gotten my hands on lately.
This series, the first being Bloodsucking Fiends and the second being You Suck, isn’t reputed to be Christopher Moore’s best books, (in fact, a friend of mine insists they’re his very worst) but you can’t blame him for writing another vampire novel in this market–we all gots bills ta pay.
If you’re an initiate like me, then you’ll reap the benefit of the first chapter, which gives a hyperactive rundown of the supernatural shitstorm that was the first two books. But if you’re anything else like me, you despise Abby Normal, and you’ll wonder what you’ve done to deserve her as a narrator.
She’s the main character this time out, and many of the chapters are her blog entries detailing what’s just occurred. I must give credit to Christopher for synthesizing the Hot Topic teeny-bopper voice so convincingly in these passages (he’s admitted to creeping around MySpace for research into this particular dialect), but I’ve known many Abby Normals and I do not enjoy their company.
I can’t really set up the plot for you coherently. I’m just going to list a bunch of characters.
Abby; her tech-whiz boyfriend, Foo; her BFF (and worthless character) Jared; vampire lovers Tommy and Jody (who are encased in bronze); resident hobo and self-proclaimed protector of the city known as the Emperor; a Safeway stock crew of stoners who moonlight as vampire hunters; detectives Rivera and Cavuto; a mysterious old Japanese swordsman.
They all band together to face San Francisco’s new threat of Chet, the giant hairless cat-turned-vampire, and his army of vampire felines.
For what it’s worth, you can’t call it clichéd–an extraordinary feat in this genre, to be sure. The only other Moore novel I’d read before was Fool, and while I hesitate to say that Bite Me’s a better book, I did find it more entertaining. If you’ve been following this saga, let me tell you that a couple major changes occur in the characters, but this book will feel like just another episode; expect another sequel. Also, I have a feeling you’ve been seeing a lot of these jokes in the first two books already…
One of the things I immediately took to were the descriptions of San Francisco, where you find nuggets like this: “The Tenderloin was, in fact, also, the theater district, which was convenient if you wanted to see a first-rate show in addition to drinking a bottle of Thunderbird and being stabbed repeatedly.” It’s also a setting where a lot more crazy shit can happen ( but with this many characters who all must run into each other repeatedly, The City feels oddly like a quaint village). Moore’s having more fun here than he did in Fool, where the plot of King Lear seemed to really confine him.
Let’s Justify a Christopher Moore Joke
Moore’s primary talent as a comic writer is the ability to conjure a chaotically funny sentence. It can leap out from anywhere, at any time, and blow an airhorn:
Foo could hear the death-metal soundtrack [from a video game] coming from Jared’s headphones, tinny screeching and chainsaw rhythms, like angry chipmunks humping a kazoo inside a sealed mayonnaise jar.
Okay. Your first response may be to accuse Moore of just writing a random simile that sounds funny, but there is method to it. Angry chipmunks=tinny screeching, kazoo humping=chainsaw rhythms, and the sealed mayonnaise jar=the muffling of the noise as heard outside Jared’s headphones. It works. Sometimes, to get a laugh like one of these, all Moore has to do is summarize what’s been happening in the last three pages.
I remember reading a reviewer from Kirkus saying that “less may be more, but it isn’t Moore,” and wishing I’d thought of that line. It’s a truth spoken, and for that reason I don’t immediately take to his style while others do. That oddly sweet and endearing nature of Moore’s books, though, tend to save them for me.
But at the end of the day, I think what this poor planet needs is for some vampire series’ to end. Even this one.