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Christopher Moore
You Suck
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2007

Wm Morrow / HarperCollins
US First Edition Hardcover
ISBN 978-0-06-059029-1
328 Pages; $21.95
Publication Date: 01-16-2007
Date Reviewed: 03-11-07

Index: General Fiction  Horror  Fantasy

The fantastic is a funny thing, and never easily measured. Christopher Moore is keenly aware of this and uses it to his advantage in 'You Suck', his sequel to 1995's 'Bloodsucking Fiends'. The oddities of our world yield easily to the oddities of the next in Moore's novel. Compared the romance of 'Bloodsucking Fiends' (such as it is), 'You Suck' is sort of like a morning after. The charm of the vampires themselves has worn off, but Moore brings a teenager to rescue the reader as well as the vampires. Yes, this is the sort of vampire novel where vampires need rescuing, and that should be your clue that this is not an ordinary vampire novel.

The fact that Moore can set his day-after sequel to a book published twelve years ago in the current day without a hiccough in the reader's perception stands as a tribute to his writing skills. He's canny enough to strip away the details that might date the book but leave in those that ground it and make it real. Jody's turned Tommy into a vampire, inspiring the opening exclamation that also functions as the title. Tommy and Jody are in a passel of trouble. The cops think they’re leaving, but they haven't. Tommy's turkey-bowling buddies have hared off to Las Vegas with the dough they got from the elder vampire Elijah's yacht, but they've blown it all on a hooker painted Blue who comes back to town with them to drain the last dregs of their ill-gotten gains. Elijah the ancient vampire may be down, but he's not out. Not yet.

The shit doesn't hit the fan, but just about everything else does in the mayhem that follows. Moore handles his characters fairly well, but there are some off-putting bits. Up till now, he's seemed to genuinely like everyone he wrote about, but the hooker who calls herself Blue, for good reason, is a strangely perfect fit for the "hope you die sooner rather than later" award. In a book where characters can die and come back to life, that's a problem. Moreover, readers will experience a true frisson of fantastic delight and dislocation when they realize that the actions of the Animals, Tommy's turkey-bowling Safeway pals, seem less believable than vampires in San Francisco. Sorry, but I don’t see even the stupidest stoners blowing half a mil on a hooker. But as if to atone for the sin of making the Animals yield to plot requirements, Moore introduces us to perhaps his best character yet, Abby Normal. To read her is to know her and to know her is to love her. She's a goth teenager and a friend of Lily, who works for Charlie from 'A Dirty Job'. We get to know Abby by virtue of her diaries, written by Moore in the first person. Who know Christopher Moore had an alter ego as a sixteen year-old goth grrl? But she's indisputably the highlight of the novel.

Moore's story in 'You Suck' is once again pretty slight, but certainly there's enough sound and fury going on here to keep the reader glued to the pages — when that is, the prose voice of Abby Normal isn’t doing the job all on its lonesome. Once you get past the half-mil problem, things in the real world work out as believably as those in the next. Once of the strengths of this book is Moore's ability to work in all the characters we liked from 'A Dirty Job' and 'Bloodsucking Fiends' in a manner that is pretty damn satisfying. We even get a scene from 'A Dirty Job' replayed via the perspective of Jody. Neat.

The writing here is lively as ever. Moore knows precisely how thickly he can lard the text with the word "fuck" and not wear out the laughs. He can get into the voices of his characters, from Tommy the teenager vampire to Jody the twenty-something vampire bitch to The Emperor of San Francisco, the homeless man who manages to ground the novel and provide the closest thing to an even keel you’re going to find.

Most readers of Moore are in it for the laughs, and there are plenty of those to be found in 'You Suck'. Sure, there's a great feeling that comes with carrying around a book titled 'You Suck'; you’re going to get lots of comments. But beyond that, Moore delivers an effective sequel and a totally entertaining new character whom we hope to see and hear from in future sequels. Though he makes a pretty big mess of things, letting all manner of mayhem loose, he also manages to fix things up in a manner consistent with the wacky rules of his world. Abby Normal balances out the unpleasant and sort-of unbelievable Blue. Welcome to Christopher Moore country. Vampires — real. Hookers — not so much. But either will drain your life's blood if you don’t watch out. Only one, however, can bring you back from the dead.

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