This is like reviewing two books. Book one had some good commentary on the absurd obsession with ‘reality’ TV, especially the reductive contest type. Book two forgot all that, and instead went for stupid levels of absurdity, possibly trying to be funny, possibly trying to hold a ‘Clockwork Orange’ type mirror to it all. Neither was great, but the first was better than the second.
Creature of the Night is the story of a near-future world where humans discovered vampires, declared war, and lost. Vampires occupy some of the position that celebrities do now, only moreso. The events all occur during a brief (week?) TV show that is a contest to turn one contestant into a new vampire. This is intended as a send-up of the ‘American idol’ type show, but with an edge of insanity and depravity. Which I get.
But then the author should have committed. There is nothing in the ‘off camera’ scenes to suggest that this is anything more than posturing on the character’s end, except for all the bits about how it isn’t. Every one of them is totally into the contest, even when it becomes cruel and brutal (which is pretty much immediately). But there is no follow-through into the ‘off camera’ spaces. And that is where we find the biggest miss. The on-camera insanity is one thing – and worthy of parody. But, the off-camera is where the story is. Where there can be drama, pathos, development, and so on. There is some, just not enough.
Where I get off the bus is the brutality. Make no mistake, I am not one of those ‘i downloaded megakillerultraviolence 2, and it has violence…1 star’ types. I don’t mind violence, and even enjoy it in the correct context. This isn’t it. There is something horribly off-putting about the whole thing. I have been trying to put a finger on it for a bit now, and all i can think is it feels wrong. Not the actions, per se, but the way it is applied. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t feel forced, just…off. Almost, but not quite, like it was there, and an editor wanted it punched up, so the author had a ‘see how you like THAT’ moment.
I also was not on board with the ending – not the results, but the methods. I get that it was needed to complete the parody, but again, personal taste says ‘no’.
There is nothing really wrong with the book – no glaring style or craft issues. it isn’t, objectively, bad in any way. I just found the parts I disliked too much to ignore in the grand scheme of things.