Review of You Suck by Christopher Moore
by Christopher Moore
Spoiler alert! This review reveals significant plot details.
Previously, on Kara’s reviews…
Jody and Thomas. I can’t even.
I find Jody’s characterization hugely problematic…. I just wish Moore hadn’t ruined what might have been a great thing by falling back on clichéd jokes, like, “I could stand to lose five pounds.” We get it: women are obsessed with their weight! Hah-hah, very funny. I’ll pencil in a laugh sometime next week.
I’m going to try the next book, because Moore has earned a lot of credit with me. But if Thomas pulls anything like that again, I’m out of here. I have better things to do with my time than watch an insecure guy try to stop his vampire ladyfriend from leaving her in progressively creepier and rapier ways.
And now, the continuation…
You Suck picks up almost literally where Bloodsucking Fiends left off: C. Thomas Flood is a vampire, having been bitten by his vampiric girlfriend Jody. Once her daylight minion, now they have to find a new minion for the both of them. But the heat is on in San Francisco, because they have savvy detectives, an Emperor, and a Safeway night shift crew breathing down their pale necks.
I have to say, this book starts off with much more promise than Bloodsucking Fiends. Tommy and Jody’s relationship dynamic has changed. I wouldn’t say they are on “equal” footing now, but they are both vampires, at least. Jody herself is definitely more confident here, and Moore explicitly shows how much she delights in flaunting her sexuality for herself, because she no longer fears walking alone at night. That’s all well and good.
Indeed, I’ll go ahead and say that the characterization of the two protagonists is much improved. The other characters? Not so much. Every remaining character falls back into one or more stereotypes in Moore’s attempt to wring as much clichéd humour from this book as possible. I started to tune out and skim when he introduced Blue, the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold (and blue skin), and almost entirely checked out when dead whores started showing up.
Right, Moore, look … I don’t care whether your book has a “strong female protagonist.” I don’t care if your book has two female protagonists who show interesting and different sides to living as a woman in San Francisco. (I love Abby’s gothy teenage geekiness!) Fridging women is not OK. Joking about fridging dead whores is also not OK. The former does not, will never, excuse the latter. Similarly, the fact that Blue comes back—out of the blue—as a vampire doesn’t make up for the tasteless jokes at her expense.
Any enjoyment I was getting from You Suck was sucked out of me—pun intended—by these missteps.
At least Bloodsucking Fiends had stakes. (No, I mean plot stakes, not wooden stakes—gah. Why is this happening?!) The elusive and mysterious Elijah was a credible antagonist in the first book. Now he’s just a nuisance, and most of the conflict comes from Tommy and Jody running around trying to train Abby and move. Yes, this entire book is a sitcom about moving to the apartment down the block.
Towards the very end, the book shifts more and more into Abby’s first-person diary perspective. Now, I love Abby, and I loved her diary entries when they were intermittent. The more frequently they appeared, the more they grated in tone, though. The sudden appearance of Steve as a vampire hunter/love interest for Abby at the eleventh hour is almost as unsatisfactory as the wimpiness of the new vampires on the block.
I didn’t even realize how worked up I was about this until I wrote this review, and now I just can’t even.
Do I read the third book? It’s on my shelf, checked out the same time I borrowed this one. They are quick—I read this at a ball game, so I could read book three in less than an afternoon. But is it worth it? The cover copy seems to promise that it foregrounds Abby and includes a vampire cat.
But is it worth it?
I have since read the third book. It was worth it. Kind of. Review forthcoming!