Friday, October 28, 2011

Vampire Apocalypse: Descent into Chaos review


    Vampire Apocalypse: Descent into Chaos continues the adventures of the resistance group headed by "I have no idea what I'm doing" Peter Harris and his rag-tag bunch of human survivors. It's been a short time the events of the first novel, A World Torn Asunder, and the first pocket of free-humanity has been established. Of course, this is when everything goes from bad to worse.

    Is Vampire Apocalypse: Descent into Chaos good? Yes, it continues the trend established in the first book. The good-guy characters are sympathetic and likable. The bad-guy vampires and their thralls are hateable but interesting to read about. This is a novel where you want the heroes to win and the bad guys to fail. It's a quick read with a lot of fun, pulse-pounding action. You won't regret buying it.

    On the human side of things, I continued to enjoy the depiction of the resistance. Derek Gunn has a way in describing characters that makes them come off as authentic and real. Yeah, a number of these guys will die but not all of them and you really want to see them survive. Instead of a John Conner-esque messianic archetype, John Harris is obviously just making **** up as he goes along and hoping he doesn't get the last of free humanity killed along the way.

    One thing I enjoyed was the author didn't just blow past the important role of support personnel in wars. Yeah, the guy who is actually holding the gun is important. Equally important, if not more so, is the guy who is making the gun and the bullets. Then there's the guy who patches the wounds of the guy holding the gun. Even the guy who cooks the other guys' meals. Non-combat personnel are vital to any military and it's nice to see them play a role in this novel.

    If there's one character that's a serious misstep in the human side of things, its Regan. Yes, he's apparently named after the President. That's a bit like V for Vendetta naming Adam Susan, "Mister Thatcher." Basically, Regan is the slimy politician and obstructive bureaucrat we've seen since time memorial (I especially liked Walter Peck in Ghostbusters). In this case, Regan more or less exists to get the humans to try and entrench themselves so they can survive.

    This isn't unreasonable on the surface, if not for the fact that its condemning the rest of humanity to a slow and painful death at the hands of the vampires.  Really, the guy is monstrously callous and even in terms of pure-survival strategy, his ideas are stupid. In their current state, Free Humanity could be wiped out by a stiff breeze. Continuing the war against the vampires is the only way they can strengthen their numbers to have an actual chance of surviving.

    God, yeah, I really hated that guy. Not in he "love to hate it" way, either.

    Thankfully, the vampires and the Thralls more than make up for this. Derek Gunn has a nice way of creating purely evil antagonists that, nevertheless, are enjoyable to read about. The vampires may all violent psychopaths but they're damned entertaining. I'm a believer there's a difference between pure evil and "two-dimensional." Daleks are pure evil and they remain the most consistently entertaining villains on Doctor Who.

    Really, the biggest villains in the book are turning out to be the Thralls. Essentially human but for the fact they have three times the strength of a normal person of their build, Thralls have no excuse for the horrible things they do. The vampires are alien and human but the Thralls come off as a combination of frat boys and Nazis. I actually look forward to our heroes killing more Thralls than I do the vampires themselves. Derek Gunn does a fun job of starting to establish the seeds of a Thrall rebellion while maintaining the fact they're every bit as evil as the vampires.

    Overall, Vampire Apocalypse: Descent into Chaos is a nicely moody book that creates an atmosphere of heroic resistance in a relentlessly bleak world. It's a bit like I imagined Skynet's world to look like, except humans are in blood-pens as opposed to labor camps. The action is good, the characterization is consistent, and the storyline entertaining. I hope to continue to read the series as new volumes come out and wish Derek Gunn much success in the fiction market.

9/10

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