Goodreads): This volume follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King. Snyder's story is set in 1920's LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King's story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire— a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun.
Review: I thought I'd review something different this week and talk about a graphic novel I just finished. Even if I wasn't intrigued by Stephen King's involvement, the cover alone had me waiting impatiently for the first volume of this series. It combines two genres you would think wouldn't mix: the Western and the Roaring 20s. Two eras that marked a dramatic change in American culture, moments of growth and change for the country. As we follow two stories, one charting the origin of Deadwood-esque vampire, Skinner Sweet, and the other a rising 20s starlet, Pearl. Both characters are intriguing representations of the American spirit.
The two stories are told simultaneously, and sometimes it does get a little confusing, but ultimately it works, allowing us to see how both Pearl and Skinner deal with their fate. Snyder, the creator of American Vampire, has done something I wouldn't have thought possible: made a vampire story that isn't just fresh, but is a whole new look at the genre. His vampires aren't sparkly or swoon-worthy (er...okay, 1920s Skinner was kind of hot), but brutal and violent and, yes, scary. There's nothing nice or pretty about these vampires, yet they're entirely compelling.
My only gripe is the sudden romance toward the end involving former Pinkerton, Agent Book. It felt a bit forced and something that was there to appease some sort of male fantasy. Though his character was a little boring to me next to the badass Skinner Sweet who you can't help but kind of root for (or maybe that's just me). And, like I said, there were some structural issues, but I was so wrapped up in the story I didn't mind much.
I loved Albuquereque's art, which perfectly captured the spirit of the West and the vivacious Twenties. He depicted Pearl's attack and transformation with the brutality it needed, but never went overly gratuitous. His rendering of the vampire's "face" was something new and savage, and pretty awesome to see in contrast to the vein-y, dark-eyed vampires out there today.
The best thing? It's about vampires. It's not about a girl in love with a vampire or inspiring some sad-sack vampire to lead a better life. It's actually about creatures that were created to elicit fear and horror. There's no whitewashing the fact they kill, and they don't try to. Watching them survive in a world that's not ready for them is far more interesting to me than any love story or redemption tale.
I can't wait to see more of Pearl and her boyfriend Henry, who are like an even more savage version of Bonnie and Clyde, and how their paths cross with Skinner Sweet, the most disturbing, yet enigmatic vampire I've seen in years. Whether your a fan of the vampire genre or not, a King fan or not, hell, if you just like a good story, give American Vampire a chance. It'll make you forget that there are even other vampire stories out there.
Lit Snit Verdict: A-