Sunday, September 9, 2007

You Suck, by Christopher Moore [2]

**/***** (2/5)

"Tres chic." [Tommy] grinned like he imagined a sexy Italian man-whore might.

"Who drools in public," Jody said.

Damn, she's immune to my sexy Italian man-whore grin, Tommy thought.

I found Christopher Moore's YOU SUCK: A LOVE STORY a steep decline from the magic of BLOODSUCKING FIENDS (****). BLOODSUCKING FIENDS enthralled, humored and prompted fits of laughter while its sequel YOU SUCK failed to garner any outright laughs and I found the crux of the pacing and plotting exasperating, mostly going through the motions. I thought Moore should have chosen a different backdrop for YOU SUCK (not San Francisco again) with new characters supporting Jody and Tommy rather than the Animals, detectives Cavuto and Rivera, and the Emperor. Moore writes the goth minion character, sixteen year-old Abby Normal, with a pronounced sass and panache. Consequently, Abby completely steals the show and while the first half of the book returns Jody and Tommy, both as vampires this time, the second half of the book showcases Abby and her intrepid teenager wit. Abby is a welcome addition to be sure, and only chapters with Abby's amusing first-person narration resonates. I liked the beginning and I enjoyed Jody & Tommy therein, and Abby's journal was generally funny, but I really disliked the ending here.

"How 'bout I buy you a cup of coffee instead," [Tommy] said. "We can talk."

"It's because I have small boobs, isn't it?" Abby said, going into a very practiced pout.

"Of course not." Tommy smiled in a way he thought would be charming, mature, and reassuring. "Coffee won't help that."

I could have done without the Animals this time around, I could have done without Blue-the-Hooker's plot (a ruse for Elijah), and I definitely could have done without the ending here which I found an evasive cliffhanger possibly setting up another book in this line. My biggest problem: it seemed Jody & Tommy's continuing story served as backdrop to launch Abby's character. I would have liked to see Jody and Tommy more prominently, at least in the end. I would have liked to see Tommy make more of an impact some way, but I suppose Moore admirably keeps him in character.

I just didn't enjoy this one as much as BLOODSUCKING FIENDS. I hope however Christopher Moore writes another one in this line of love stories. And I hope the next one is much better than YOU SUCK.

Although fully titled YOU SUCK: A LOVE STORY, it's debatable which couple the title references: Jody & Tommy, or Abby & Steve? By the way, I thought Steve the Asian scientist met the new girl that started working at Safeway in BLOODSUCKING FIENDS?

The Story.

YOU SUCK picks up exactly where BLOODSUCKING FIENDS left off: Jody transmuting into mist to escape the bronze statue from the ear holes, kissing her lover Tommy and turning him into a vampire so they could be together forever. Tommy makes attempts at vampire-life acclimation in the first half or so, and Tommy and Jody share a continued love with some feral sex. Since Tommy is a vampire now they need new minion(s) for daytime errands while also requiring a new apartment. Recall from BLOODSUCKING FIENDS Jody promised the police detectives Cavuto and Rivera she'd take the old vampire and leave the city. Instead, Jody and Tommy hope relocating to a new apartment and laying low will suffice.

Tommy and Jody runs into Abby Normal, a 16 year-old goth who desperately tries to suppress her perkiness. Having witnessed Tommy's fangs grow, Abby willingly agrees to find Tommy and Jody a new apartment with very specific requirements while running interference for them with the police detectives Cavuto and Rivera and other would-be vampire hunters. In essence, Abby becomes their minion. Abby is, without a doubt, the heart of the novel. Only her perky, teenage humor keeps the book afloat.

Abby: And [the blond ho] goes to bite me, and something yanks her back off her feet and I go flying. So I'm all, "Owned! Bee-yatch! Dog fucking owned you!" Doing a minor booty dance of ownage, perhaps, in retrospect, a bit prematurely. (I believe hip-hop to be the appropriate language for taunting, at least until I learn French.)

Meanwhile, the Animals from BLOODSUCKING FIENDS take their share of the money from the old vampire Elijah's paintings to Vegas and bring back Blue, a blue-painted hooker with rather large implants. The Animals always wanted to enact some semblance of the Smurfs cartoon on a sexual level, and having Blue among the 7 or 8 of them realizes their deep-seeded fantasies. Blue, on the other hand, dreams of riches that does not rely on good looks and willingly agrees based on the money they're offering. Blue eventually discovers the existence of the vampires Tommy and Jody. After the Animals blow over six hundred thousand on Blue, Blue has a new agenda: to capture one of the vampires, and she convinces the Animals to help.

From here on out the story splinters into 3 major perspectives. First, we have Jody and/or Tommy (either together or separately) doing their thing. Tommy is finding the vampire lifestyle a difficult adjustment, while Jody of course revels in her newfound power as her abilities bloom making her the kick-ass vampire she is. Then we have Abby, and her role builds and builds while eventually completely eclipsing Jody and Tommy in the second half of YOU SUCK. Finally, we have fragments of the story involving Blue's agenda to capture one of the vampires.

There's also Steve, the Asian scientist who can conveniently turn vampires back to regular humans (later, Abby affectionately calls him "Foo Dog"); Elijah the old 800 year-old vampire encased in bronze just biding his time for an opportunity at escape; of course, the Emperor of San Francisco returns, the slightly-delusional homeless man and his two dogs; and we have our homicide detectives Cavuto and Rivera at it again investigating murders.

The plot dealing with Blue and the Animals was the weakest in a relatively weak book. I enjoyed the sparse moments between Jody and Tommy. I found the ending a cop-out and entirely unsatisfying. I have to praise Christopher Moore for the ambiguity of concrete "sides." Too often, black-and-white scenarios rule stories but not here. The Emperor and the Animals betray Jody and Tommy after they learn Jody turned Tommy, and then later regret it. Blue has her own goals obviously, while Elijah is driven by his own rules and motivations. Sometimes Elijah is an ally, other times a bitter enemy. There's only one thing you can count on here: Abby's steadfast loyalty to Jody and Tommy. Moore laces her character with an adolescent humor which makes the book readable.

Abby: Let me say right here, if I haven't made it clear, that I have seen as many pale, naked old-man parts in the last twenty-four hours to bruise my delicate psyche for a lifetime, so don't be surprised if you someday find me wandering the moors at midnight, a crazed look in my eye, babbling about albino Tater Tots nesting in Brillo pads and being pursued by sagging man ass, because that shit can happen when you've been traumatized.

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