Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

1995. Recorded Books. 8 discs. 9.5 hours.

Read by: Susan Bennett

In a nutshell:

Jody Stroud, denizen of San Francisco, is heading home from her job at an insurance firm when she is attacked and then ‘turned’ by a vampire.  As she fumbles her way through nascent vampire-hood, she scoops up 19-year-old C. Thomas Flood, a wannabe writer fresh from the Midwest, as her day-minion.  Meanwhile, bodies keep showing in the city, victims of the vampire who turned Jody.  Jody and Tommy band together with some other unlikely accomplices to take down the vampire.

Review:

The beginning started off with promise.  I was pulled into Jody’s story as she figured out what had happened to her.  But then, C. Thomas Flood showed up.  I was tolerant at first of his immature and unfunny ways, but by the time the police are taking him into custody near the end of the book, I was inwardly cheering and hoping he’d be locked up for a while.  Part of it is certainly due to how the audio-book narrator handled his voice.  I know he’s supposed to sound young, but most of the time he sounded like a petulant twelve-year-old.

That said, I do not think I would have cared much for the book even in print form.  Bloodsucking Fiends is a dark comedy and its humor was hit-or-miss.  It was definitely . . . off-beat, or maybe random & bizarre would be better adjectives.  It was like this: not long ago, my friend and I watched The Pajama Game with Doris Day on Netflix Instant Watch and found it rather whacked-out.  After the first couple of musical numbers, we just threw up our hands because there was no predicting what the cast would sing about next, and which combination of characters would be singing it.  One moment the guy is having a duet with his dictaphone and the next the whole cast is giddily rolling down the hill like logs.

Listening to Bloodsucking Fiends was kind of like that.  One moment Tommy is buying Jody turtles from the Chinatown market as a gift and the next he’s putting her in the freezer.  This could be fun, but for me the unpredictability and wackiness felt thrown-together and, at times, forced.

There were also a couple of back-to-back disturbing scenes where Jody is threatened – for those of you who have read it, I mean the one that takes place in a morgue, and the other in a vehicle soon afterward.  To be clear, these scenes were not played for laughs, but I was just so filled with ‘ick’ while listening that it was hard for me to continue on.

I guess you could say that Bloodsucking Fiends pushes some boundaries.  I don’t mind being having my boundaries pushed, but I only appreciate it if I think the discomfort is worthwhile.  This wasn’t.  I did want to know how it ended, especially to see if a predicted plot point would come about (it did, albeit with a slight twist), but I was happy when the book ended.  I will obviously not be checking out the sequel, and it will take some persuading for me to try another Christopher Moore book.  I just don’t think his style works for me.

Other Reviews:

Joseph Mallozzi’s Blog: “The book upends the standard male vampire/lovesick female victim conceit with brilliant results . . . It makes for a terrific dynamic, partly because it’s an inspired tack on a weathered chestnut, but mostly because the characters are so damn endearing.”

Monniblog – “It was a bit of action, a bit mystery, a little love story (although far-fetched), and humourous. I didn’t laugh out loud, but there were a couple good smirks and a few bits I shared with others.”

 

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4 Comments

Filed under Fantasy, Supernatural & Surreal

4 responses to “Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

  1. I’ve always been curious about Christopher Moore’s books and I’m not all that sure now, having read your review, if I would like it! However, I guess I ought to have a look-see for myself (or at least a flipthrough in a bookstore or library!).

    • Christopher Moore really seems to click with many other readers’ sense of humor. There were funny moments in Bloodsucking Fiends that I enjoyed, but for the most part, I wasn’t connecting with its tone. I’d recommend finding a reader out there who has read many of his books to find a good “entry” book. Maybe that’s what I should have done, hm.

  2. i’ve read a few of moore’s books and find them to be quirky and pretty tongue-in-cheek. 🙂 i think that he’s one of those authors who can polarize readers: they either love him or don’t.

    i never listened to this audio book but know what you mean about narrators not getting voices right. it’s one of the more irksome things to me as a listener.

  3. I’m a big Chris Moore fan, so my take on his stuff is anything but unbiased.

    “Bloodsucking Fiends” was written quite early in Moore’s career (1996). My first introduction to his work was “You Suck: A Love Story” in audio. In my opinion, “Fiends” was an example of an author trying to get a handle on voice and tone. He has been more successful in his later books. Susan Bennett, the narrator for all the vampire books, delivers an over-the-top, masterful performance in the second two books in the series. I can’t speak for her work in “Fiends,” since I haven’t heard it.

    Moore is often a very ambitions writer: in “Lamb: the Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal,” he successfully balances humor with some serious subject matter. He has also ventured into Shakespeare with “Fool,” which is the story of King Lear.

    For me, part of Chris Moore’s appeal is that he seldom takes the obvious paths in his narrative. he may not hit on all cylinders with his earliest work, but I think he is definitely doing so now.

    Joe Parsons
    Dublin, CA

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