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J.F. Lewis
Simon and Schuster

I’m not really sure why, but I love bad sci-fi and fantasy. Movies, books, comics, whatever, give it to me, and I’ll devour it. Wizards, werewolfs, the whole lot of them. I especially dig a good vampire story- from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to turning into a vampire means I MUST sprout a mullet-type fiction (I’m looking at you Keifer). J. F. Lewis is no exception to the rule; as bad as 2008’s Staked was, I still loved it. I read and re-read the thing, reveling the ridiculous story of a vampire strip club and the antics of the anti-hero and his stripper girlfriend (now that I think about it, strip clubs+ science fiction= good times for all- see Zombie Strippers for more evidence thereof).

I do not love, however, so bad it’s bad vampire fiction. It’s a fine line to walk, and even the best cross over the line from time to time (like in Hush, when Superdog saves the day. Gag.). Normally, a novel with some overly hokey parts does not deter me from the novel as a whole, but with his latest novel, J.F. Lewis has crossed the line and he ain’t coming back.

ReVamped brings back Eric, Tabitha, and the whole undead gang right where Staked left off. Eric comes back in a fit of revenge for his now dead ex-fiancé, who apparently had been enslaved by his ex-best friend (who we last saw being eaten by religious werewolves) and whose soul was captured by a demon. Tabitha also returns with a vengeance, except she seeks revenge on Eric by shacking up with the head honcho at Highland Towers for a chance to live in high class vampire society. There’s a lot of nonsensical description of her boobs and her clothes, more so than in Staked.

The plot in and of itself isn’t so bad- Eric has to go through the high class vampire society and a demon or two to figure out who took his fiancé’s soul, why he has special powers, why Tabitha’s sister is acting so weird (Eric’s been seeing her on the side), etc, etc. Where this story goes from entertaining to bad is the weird sub-characters. At one point, Eric fights a clan of nine year old vampire pimps (for whatever reason, while I was reading this I couldn’t stop picturing Eric fighting the Garbage Pail Kids). And then there’s all this weird stuff about thralls- vampire slaves. Eric makes five or six completely randomly, whereas previously thralldom was only something other more snooty types did. I think it’s a weird way of trying to make the reader see him as more of a deep and caring individual, rather than a dumbass hero. I liked the dumbass hero.

The one thing that really got me in this book was the damn car. While trying to bring Eric back from ghost-dom, his buddies decide his power is tied to the car. BAM! When Eric comes back from the dead, so does the car. Only now, the car has changed color, drives itself, and likes to eat small animals and vampires. What fun! The only car with a personality I’ve ever been able to stand was Kip (only with the Hoff behind the wheel, before he was a caricature of himself). Or maybe that one cartoon car that sputtered when it talked…

Overall, the thing that ReVamped lacked over it’s predecessor was a good sense of fun. While that may not have been the author’s intent, strip clubs, Born Again werewolves, and vampires are fun. And so, my dear friends, I leave you with this: vampire fiction=good, vampire cars=bad, sequels are never as good as the originals, and remember the golden rule- a lack of strippers is a lack of a good time.

Caitlin Elgin