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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I'm Reading: American Vampire 2

American Vampire Vol. 2Boy, I have been on a sequels kick recently.  Here we have another installment of what is a great vampire graphic novel series.  American Vampire Vol. 2 by Scott Snyder continues the set-up presented in the first volume.  We are dealing with new world vampires who can cavort in the daylight.  Their only weakness is still a secret to many. Click here for more on the first book.

Again we have the VERY evil Skinner, but this time we have moved forward a decade and are in Las Vegas of the Depression Era.  The men in charge of building the Hoover Dam are being killed by a vampire.  Is it Skinner? The local lawman teams up with Federal vampire killers to solve the case, but the fight becomes very personal.

The alternating story finds Pearl, Skinner's protege, living as normal a life as possible with her love Henry (a human) in rural California.  Pearl was a vicious killer, but has left that life behind.  As the novel closes, Pearl's former best friend (turned vampire) is out for revenge.

Volume three promises more of the same only this time during WWII.

While one of the obvious appeals here is the joy of a story with truly scary and evil vampires (Skinner got more evil in this book; I did not think that was possible), what I also love is how the story explores American history of the early twentieth century as it scares your pants off.

The drawings are again vivid and detailed, with brutal killings.  Black and red are the dominant colors.  The story also jumps around, with lots of foreshadowing, so you have to pay attention to the box that appears at the top of the page and identifies when you are in a new town or time period.

We barely see the old world vampires here, but I am not sure that they are gone.  Skinner, our American Vampire, is definitely doing better than his old world only out at night rivals, but as the book ends, his hold on Vegas is slipping.  But as usual with Skinner, when he is down, he is never out.  Stay on your toes.

Read this series if you like graphic horror with mean, vicious vampires.  Stay away if you like your vampires to be sweet and romantic.

Three Words That Describe This Book: evil vampires, American History, violent

Where This Book Took Me (Summer Reading Feature): The American West of the 1930s.

Readalikes: Previously I suggested these books:
If you want to read more horror graphic novels check out the Locke and Key series by Joe Hill, The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman, or the Hellboy series by Mike Mignola. 
I also felt that my alternating love and disgust for Skinner and Pearl reminded me of Ig in Horns by Joe Hill. 
For more scary vampires you can also try The Passage. 
For those who want to try a western, if you haven't read Louis L'Amour before, go to the library and check out Hondo.  There is a lot of similarity here.  I have had students read Hondo in the past.  Click here to see what they have had to say.
To this list of suggestions I would also add anything by Brian Keene.  He doesn't write about vampires, but he has the same level of violence as well as a similar feel to his story lines.  He writes bloody, fast-paced horror which tends to feature zombies, but not always.  He has great character development, and no one can describe a body being dismembered better.  Try Castaways.

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