Sunday , April 21 2024
Be prepared to laugh yourself silly, but expect to have to pay a price – thinking and reflecting on the state of the world.

Book Review: Christopher Moore’s You Suck

In all relationships there comes a time when you have to figure out matters of etiquette. It's no different for Tommy and Jody, with only some slight deviations. For instance: who gets to feed first off the 35-pound shaved cat isn't something most couples have to worry about.

No not the eat the cat, you sicko, that would be gross, just suck enough blood from his veins to keep them alive, and satiate their blood lust. They're only vampires, for goodness sake, not some cheap thrill Satanists who get their jollies out of mutilating pets. I mean if they had meant the cat any harm would they have gone to all the trouble of shaving him? (And you don't know trouble until you've tried to shave a 35-pound cat who doesn't want to be shaved. Let's just say that a lot of duct tape was used in the end and it's a good thing that vampires have great healing powers.)

The problem is that neither of them are that keen on finding human prey. Tommy doesn't even know that Jody has taken humans before (see the novel Bloodsucking Fiends for details of Jody's "kills" ) and even though she only took the terminally ill then, it still doesn't sit right with her either. But Chet, the naked or hairless cat, is only a temporary solution to their problem and they are really going to need a consistent supply of blood in order to keep, er… umm… alive?

Little do they know that very soon they are going to look back on having to chase a huge pissed-off cat covered in shaving cream around their loft apartment with fondness as one of the good times. Of course they have more immediate problems they have to deal with, but there are also some doozies on the horizon they can't know about.

One of the first things they have to do is replace Tommy. No not literally of course, but get someone to fill his original job description of – do everything I can't during the daylight hours for me will you – better known in their circles as a minion. (Not to be confused with a minyen the number of people needed, or if your conservative about it number of men, to do anything official in a synagogue.)

Who better then a servant of the dark, even though she's 16 and her mascara tends to run more than it should (and has this perky thing happening which she does her best to suppress) named Abby Normal to fill the job? Once she gets over wanting to be converted and brought, like, you know officially into the dark side of life, and stops exposing her neck every time she sees Tommy and bowing to Jody, she turns out to be a better find than they could have thought possible.

Which is a good thing because trouble is about to find them in all sorts of weird shapes, sizes, and colours. First there's the fact that Elijah, the 800-hundred-year-old vampire that started the whole party by turning Jody isn't quite so securely encased in a brass statue as they thought (again see Bloodsucking Fiends for details) and he's a wee bit pissed.

And why not; he had his luxury yacht trashed by Tommy and his former workmates – collectively known as the Animals, the night stocking crew from the Marina Safeway – who also stole all his priceless objects to art. The other trouble comes in the shape of the Animals, who took their share of the ten cents on the dollar the fence gave them for the art to Las Vegas for a week.

Not only were they stunningly unsuccessful at the tables, but they got addicted to a blue hooker named Blue. ("We talked about and realized that ever since we were kids we wondered what it would be like to bone a Smurf.") Using sex as a means of control over the boys, she gets them to deliver Tommy to her and he accidentally turns her into a vampire.

That's when things start to get a little over the top for Tommy and Jody. Abby stands by them through it all, and thanks to her they manage to keep from frying in the sun when they lose their apartment. But even with Abby at their side will they be able to withstand seven Animal vampires led by a former Blue hooker vampire, and Elijah all out for their blood in the truest meaning of that phrase?

Well the only way you're going to find out is if you're willing to enter into Christopher Moore's alternate universe where all of this not only can take place, but does with regularity. Those of you who've read other books of Christopher's will recognise familiar faces from other books set in the streets of his San Francisco.

Once again not only does Moore show he is the master of creating comic sequences and turns of phrase that will have you close to peeing yourself, but also shows he can take what could easily have been a stereotype and make a real character. Little Abby Normal could have been hidden behind bad dress habits, mascara, and Valley Speak. But Moore pulls us under her skin and we get a real picture.

There are also the little things that he inserts into the story as sort of sideways social commentary without getting bent out of shape. Jody has taken to dressing provocatively and walking the streets of San Francisco at night by herself. Why, because for the first time in her life she doesn't feel afraid at all. She knows that she can handle anything that the street can throw at her.

Before she was a vampire, being a woman made her always a potential target for assault and violence. She had never been able to walk outside without a little of that fear guiding her steps and attitude. It's a sad world we live in if the only way a woman can feel completely safe is if she's one of the un-dead – and Moore gives us that thought to mull over without beating us over the head, just laying it out there for us to see.

That's the thing about Moore you have to be careful about. It would be easy to dismiss him as just a wiseass frat boy with a thing for tits and a gift for humour. In reality he is a subtle and manipulative bastard who is breeding awareness of the inequities in the world in such a way that you don't even notice you could be developing a social conscience.

He is the master of the sleight of hand, where while he is distracting you with scenes of turkey-bowling and the results of hot monkey sex with one hand, the other is making you think. That's not an easy thing to accomplish, but Christopher Moore is a true satirist and comic, not just some guy out for laughs.  Read his books and be prepared to laugh yourself silly, but expect to have to pay a price as well – thinking and reflecting on occasion.

You Suck will be available for public consumption on January 16th in the United States. Check your local book seller for its release date near you.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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