Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Joe Vampire: Afterlife

I've always subscribed to the notion that books are friends, and when you revisit a book, you're just catching up with a friend. Sometimes said books contain sarcastic funny friends who I enjoy spending oodles of time with no matter how messy or complicated their lives become. And so it is with the titular Joe Vampire. I enjoyed my time with him so much in the first book that I went right out and grabbed the next one; Joe Vampire: Afterlife. And Joe, I'm happy to report, is still the sarcastic friend I'm happy to spend all of my free time with, no matter how messy his life gets.

As with the first book, this book is a series of blog entries written from the perspective of a vampire just trying to make his way in the world and figure out to live while being undead. As in the first book, our narrator is still as sarcastic and obsessed with lists and bullet points as ever. But unlike the first book its not his life that is messy and that he's trying to make sense of, it's his best friend's, Hube. This book, like any good sequel should, gives our Joe Vampire room to grow up, even though he'll never age. He still has issues. He has a woman in his life who he's trying to make happy, real problems to consider like trying to start a family, and adult crap to take care of like jobs and promotions and hiring of new employees.

And the book doesn't pull any punches when it comes to explaining what it takes to make it all work, human or vampire. The relationships are full and lived in in just about every regard. Joe and Chloe work through being a couple and trying to start a family in the most realistic manner possible. Even Joe's family feels more alive and rounded out than they had in the first book much to my pleasant surprise.

Where the book thrives is when it is examining not just family or love relationships but the depths of friendship, how far you'll go and what you'll do to protect that friendship even if the other person isn't willing to. This book is a testament to how limitless a good friendship can be and if its right, could morph into a brotherhood with ties that never break no matter how hard and long they are tested. The Hube/Joe relationship that was tested in the first book gets center stage in this book, as it should. Also, the roles between the two have been reversed in this one. Hube was the emotional anchor Joe needed when he was floating out to sea. In this one, Joe had to be the beacon of light Hube used to find his way home in the dark, which had mixed to results to say the very least. To see the roles reversed and the friendship changed and reshaped is where the real strength of the book can be found.

The only downside to this book for me is that two of my favorite characters didn't get the airtime I feel they deserved. Louise, ever Joe's compass didn't have much to do in this book. Sure the parts I did get to enjoy were pure Louise through and through,  but I didn't get as much time to sit with her and enjoy her as I did in the first book. I'd say Bo, the computer guru/furniture builder extraordinaire/awesome redneck also suffered the same fate of playing second fiddle as Louise did. For the first half of the book, he only mentioned and the second half only gave him a few scene, one was very serious and the other was the most somber and sad. I  need my Bo to be sarcastic and a smart ass and I needed more of him damnit.

But those are only minor complaints and not ones worth remedying anyway. I think if there had been more emphasis on these two, it would have been at the expense of Joe's relationships to Chloe and Hube, so I'll allow it. But Steven, if your listening, give Bo and Louise more to do in the next one. Perhaps have them put together a podcast called the Louise and Bo Show? That way comedy genius lies! Come on Steven, what do you say? (Now I'm tempted to write a fanfic piece in which Bo and Louise to do just that.)

To sum up, Joe Vampire: Afterlife is a fun continuation in the Joe Vampire series and well worth the read. A-

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