Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
Publication: Harper Paperbacks (2004), Paperback
ISBN: 0060735414 / 9780060735418
Buy it at Amazon.com
Review updated February 27, 2007
Christopher Moore is regarded as one of the better American humorists writing today, and the popularity of his novels Lamb and Fluke seem to support that. Bloodsucking Fiends is the first book of his that I’ve read.
It may be that I’m automatically prejudiced against vampire fiction in general. A diet too high in Anne Rice in high school will do that to you, in much the same way that a diet too high in French fries will make your arteries prejudiced against working properly. So I picked up this book with trepidation, and read it cautiously. I had hoped for some rollicking high times humor like that of Terry Pratchett or Craig Shaw Gardener, but Moore’s humor is less overt. While Pratchett and Gardener get most of their humorous mileage out of jokes, Moore gets his humor from the characters. Jody is a 26 year old woman with a history of bad relationships who gets turned into a vampire against her will; Thomas is a would-be writer who has moved from the backwoods of Ohio to San Francisco to fulfill his dream. The best moments in this book, I think, come from the interaction between these two characters. Moore puts a lot of care into these characters and it shows.
Other characters are not as sympathetic. The gang that Thomas works with, who call themselves “the Animals”, are funny at times and crude at others, but they also felt a bit forced and somewhat trite to me. I did appreciate that Moore included Emperor Norton in the novel, but I would have liked to know more about the Emperor’s place in Moore’s San Francisco.
The plot is fairly straightforward and mostly predictable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; this book felt to me like a formulaic romantic comedy. I kind of wish that Moore had been able to raise the stakes more than he did at the end; the final battle seemed too easily resolved.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was originally going to rate it at two stars in my own little system, but I changed my mind and gave it three, primarily because I enjoyed it enough to hunting down more of Moore’s books and reading them. My wife has highly recommended Lamb, so I hope to read that next.
Update February 27, 2007
A year and a half later, I’ve read all but two of Christopher Moore’s novels, and I’ve been to one of his signings and had a chance to interact with him via email and MySpace. And I’ve re-read Bloodsucking Fiends. My opinion of this book the second time through is much better. The Animals, Tommy’s crew at the Marina Safeway, felt much more real and sympathetic to me. Moore is definitely one of my four favorite writers.