Hollowread, Part 3! Gabrielle Faust’s Eternal Vigilance: From Deep Within the Earth.
I’ve gone on about how an author’s photo can give a little insight into a book before. With this in mind, I was pretty blown away when I looked at the back of this novel to check out Gabrielle Faust’s official author photo. Seriously, check this shit out.
I love this picture. Really, I do. Most authors are content to put on a nice collared shirt and hang out in a library, or maybe a fancy landscape or something, but Gabrielle Faust decked herself out like a freaking sorceress. All she needs is a snake and some Conan looking dude to hang out with. Way to stand out.
It’s kinda funny, though, as Faust wasn’t decked out like this at the various writing panels I’ve seen her in at various cons. More’s the pity. In an effort to support local authors, I picked up Eternal Vigilance: From Deep Within the Earth at Space City Comic Con. Seeing as of how it’s about vampires (kinda), I figured I’d give it a go for Hallowread.
And … it was something, all right.
About a year or ago, I read some blog or post or something (probably on The Mary Sue) that noted how works and even whole genres aimed at women can be “easy targets” for culture at large. I mean, there’s a ton of jokes to be made about “bodice-rippers,” based on the covers alone. On the other hand, a lot of stuff that gets mocked and critiqued legitimately deserves it for being terrible. Looking at you, Stephanie Meyer.
So yeah. With this in mind, I’m pretty sure I’m not Faust’s intended audience with this book. Then again, I at least like to think that I’m holding Eternal Vigilance: From Deep Within the Earth to the same kind of standard I’d hold to whatever bit of cheesy sci-fi or fantasy I’ve read. So my goal is to critique the book by the same standard, rather than just going “eeew, girls!” But enough mansplaining– let’s get on with it!
Eternal Vigilance: From Deep Within the Earth is the story of Tynan Llywelyn, a vampire who has awakened after a hundred years, to find himself in the dystopian post-apocalyptic world of 2111. “Post Apocalyptic Vampires” has the potential to be an awesome high concept pitch, but unfortunately, Faust doesn’t include any monster trucks or paint-huffing warboys. Instead, we get … well, here’s a direct quote from the beginning of chapter 6.
“That night I cut the last thread tethering me to my hope and lost myself in the numbness of nothingness.”
Most of the book is like that. Tynan isn’t a very compelling protagonist, as he spends most of his time angsting and lamenting and generally being emo. Sure, he eats a few people, ’cause he’s a vampire, but it doesn’t come off as particularly sexy OR horrific. Instead, Tynan keeps running into his ancient vampire buddies, who tend to make him feel bad because of his TRAGIC BACKSTORY, and so Tynan typically storms off and cries blood-tears (he’s a vampire, of course it’s blood-tears) and stuff. He’s supposed to be a tragic figure, but all the angst and woe just feels unearned. Tynan goes in depth in explaining the convoluted circumstances that led to his depression and eventual century-long Sleep, but it just comes off as a bit ham-handed.
Eventually, the plot catches up with Tynan, and he is drawn into the ongoing war between the tyrannical, cyberpunkish Tyst Empire, and the hippie-magic nature loving Phuree.
If you haven’t noticed yet, all the names in this book are ridiculous. If you’re feeling charitable, you can assume “Phuree” may be a play of words on “Free.” It still reads as pretty silly and pretentious to me. And that’s not all! As the book is populated by characters with names like Phaelan, Alessandra, Seafra (Sea, for short), Naholo, Khanna, and Tiernan. I guess along with all the clean water and gasoline, there’s a shortage of proper spelling after the apocalypse. The most glaringly misnamed character is a half Korean/Half English vampire named Tatsu.
Thing is, Tatsu is a Japanese name. It’s a little, nitpicky thing, but enough errors like those tend to add up quickly.
I know this because I’ve watched the original TMNT movie a million times, in which Shredder’s right hand man is named Tatsu. So, y’know, that’s who I thought of.
I gave up on the book a few chapters after Tatsu was introduced. There was some business about Tynan meeting an Ancient vampire who said that Tynan was bound to be the Chosen One(tm) to stop the eeeeevil Tyst’s from summoning vampire Satan, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Maybe Faust’s real goal was to instill the same kind of apathy that Tynan has for the world, in which case she succeeded! Or something.
If this book had been a paranormal romance, about some dark terrible sexy thing falling in luuuurve with some damsel in leather pants, I would’ve known what to expect. However, despite scoping out all of the outrageously gorgeous (and terribly named) people, the book doesn’t play out like a romance. For the most part, Tynan just gets whisked from one location to another, at which point someone lectures him about the plot, and then Tynan gets angry and sad and has a hissy fit where he cries blood tears and maybe tries to bite someone. It’s not exactly compelling reading.
Now that I think of it, the biggest thing about the book is that there’s really not a villain. The whole Tryst vs. Phuree thing is supposed to be the central conflict, but we never see the Tyst being eeeevil. It’s just a bunch of characters who go “oh yeah those jerks took over the world and killed like everybody and now they’re trying to summon vampire satan,” but it’s just … talk. We don’t even get a kill squad chasing Tynan around to spice things up. Maybe things pick up in the last third of the book, but … well, if you can’t hook me in 200 or so pages, I’m gonna say it’s not for lack of trying on my end. All and all, the book isn’t particularly scary, or gory, or even that sexy– but if you’ve got a thing for tormented dudes who wear a lot of black and cry blood-tears, then you might give the book a go.
Like I said, I’m not the target audience.