by Christopher Moore
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Christopher Moore returns to the vampire-trod streets of San Francisco he first explored in Blood Sucking Fiends with his novel You Suck. Set immediately after the earlier novel, which left off with supermarket stock boy Tommy Flood bronzing his girlfriend-turned-vampire Jody Stroud and the ancient vampire who turned her. However, after bronzing Jody, Tommy drilled earholes so he could talk to her, with the result that Jody escaped and turned Tommy into a vampire as well.
You Suck details how Tommy and Jody both learn to deal with their vampirism and acquire their first minion. All of the characters from the initial novel are back, from the three vampires to detectives Rivera and Cavuto to Steve, the graduate student who thinks he can turn Jody back into a human. Moore also introduces new characters, including Abby Normal, a young Goth, and her gay friend Jared, as well as Blue, a Las Vegas call girl who has dyed her skin blue to appeal to the more prurient interests (including Tommy's friends from the supermarket). Finally, Moore allows cameo appearances from some of the characters who first appeared in his previous novel, A Dirty Job.
The pacing of this novel is such that it seems it would be more at home as a screwball comedy film, although he is able to pay more attention to characterization in the pages of You Suck. Moore takes the time to get to know and understand his support characters, such as Gustavo, the supermarket stocker whose family lives in Mexico, or Monet, the street artist who poses as a statue. His attention to these details may slow down the plot, but at the same time it adds depth to the novel, and, not inconsequently, humor.
The strongest humor in You Suck comes from Abby, who revels in the idea of being a servant to a dark lord, the "vampyre Flood." Her devotion comes through clearly in the chapters written as if in her diary, which shows a girl who aspires to Gothness, but who still has a little girl inside her who isn't ready to give up her stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. While it would be easy for Flood and Jody to take advantage of Abby, neither of them do, recognizing her as a good hearted kid who just wants to help them, and they treat her less as a minion than as a person in need of some guidance.
Christopher Moore is not at his strongest with You Suck, but he does have several high notes. The book isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his early volumes, but it does give a strong sense of his humor. At the same time, it shows that he has a deft hand at creating likable characters, even when their activities is not particularly laudable. Even as You Suck can stand on its own, it shouldn't, rather being read immediately after Bloodsucking Fiends.
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