Release Date: February 22, 2010
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*Novel generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
For more information please visit Jennifer Armintrout's website.
Welcome to Penance, Ohio - hell on earth!
Graf's a vampire, and he loves it. He's free to indulge his every dark, dangerous and debauched whim. Until a road trip takes him somewhere he never expected. Now he's trapped in Penance, a town that no-one has been able to leave for five years. And he's stuck protecting Jessa who's beautiful, tempting...and very, very human! The townsfolk know she's tied to their troubles and don't look kindly on strangers, meaning Graf and Jessa have only each other to rely on. Which is making it harder for Graf to control his desire to devour her...But if he can keep his bloodlust in check, their bond could be the key to uncovering the secrets that lurk within Penance and delivering the town from it's curse.
American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout is a hard book for me to review because I'm really not sure how I feel about it. On one hand I loved the premise of the novel. It sounded interesting, and it delivered. I was thoroughly engrossed in how a town could be separated from the rest of the world and have a monster running amok, unable to run for help. But, on the other hand I really disliked the characters through most of the novel. A definite deterrent.
So let's start there. From the first moment, the characters are insipid and antagonistic. Graf is plain and simple an ass, but then again so is Jessa. When the two happen to be thrust together their reactions are like gasoline on a brush fire. Every comment is snide and cynical...typically things that I love about characters, but these two have a shallowness that made me want to strangle them. The other towns folk aren't much better. I think Graf summed it up nicely when he thought he was in a scene from 'Deliverance' because I live in the back woods, but these people, wow! And because of this isolation I can understand the attitude coming from Jessa and the locals to an extent, but there was just something about their blatantly unfriendly attitudes towards everyone, including their own that set me on edge. But, luckily the premise kept me reading and about midway through the novel Jessa and Graf finally start acting like more then spoiled brats. They finally find some middle ground and form a tenuous relationship. In truth, when they aren't bickering constantly they make a pretty good couple and I found myself drawn to this new facet of their relationship. I started to like them as they let their guards down. I just wish this had happened sooner in the novel!
The premise is what truly grabbed my attention and kept it. I was eager to know what could trap a town for five years and what could keep them prisoner without the outside world noticing. It's definitely an interesting concept: a town that supposedly no longer exists that you can't escape from with a monster lurking in the wings. The predicament is nicely explored and the answers that we are given about the how and why of it ties the story up nicely.
The development of the town and it's backwater inhabitants was nicely done as well. The problems of supplies and how these people would live was well thought out. In truth, I could actually see this happening, it was so well plotted. Armintrout covered just about every angle, even acknowledging the ones that were beyond explanation. I loved this precise detail to building the idea of being trapped and I thought the action and mystery of the novel played out perfectly given the small setting that was available. The atmosphere is definitely a key part to this novel. The feeling of unease and distrust set the almost Salem-like tone of the novel. Any sign of difference being reason enough to murder a person. This made for tense reading with a distinct horror vibe that I loved.
By the end of the novel I was still sort of at a stand still as to how I felt about it. It's an interesting take of the supernatural, especially on vampires and demons. I don't think anyone will be able to argue that the voice of Graf wasn't unique for a vampire or believable. Nor, that whole novel wasn't unique for that matter. But, the culprit behind the horror was a bit predictable after you got halfway through the story and the abrupt ending was a let down. There's not exactly room for a follow up novel though, or at least if one is written I have no idea what would be involved. Which was sort of strange given the monumental shift which I won't go into.
So, when it comes down to it, this was an okay novel. The premise is definitely one that will draw in the readers and keep them interested, but the characters lack any true emotions, their antagonism far beyond what is necessary. I recommend this more for horror fans then paranormal romance lovers to be sure.
My Rating: 3 out of 5