Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
I picked this one up because it's going to be our last discussion book of the school year with our high school kids.  I had tried reading it a while back, but put it down after just a few pages.  This time, as I am on one of those non-stop reading kicks where you just don't want to stop, I was a bit more eager to try it out.

The book reads like an actual biography, complete with "historic photographs" and footnotes.  The framework for the story is that our young narrator has been given "secret" journals of Abraham Lincoln.  Who has provided these journals?  A vampire named Henry Sturges.
Lincoln's life-long pursuit to kill all vampires begins at an early age, when his beloved mother is killed by a vampire to whom his father had unpaid debts.  During a near-fatal battle with a vampire, Lincoln is saved and nursed to health by Sturges, who becomes Abe's mentor in killing his fellow un-dead.  Sturges opens Lincoln's eyes to the true history behind slavery: that slaves are used to feed vampires in the south, and that the vampires plan to enslave all of mankind.  Lincoln has always been opposed to slavery, but now he knows the "true horrors" behind the southern slave trade.  He begins to fight vampires through politics, and eventually, the civil war.  All the while, Abraham is struggling with his own personal suffering.  The loss of his mother affects him throughout his life.  Loss seems to permeate Lincoln's years: his infant brother, his sister, friends, his own boys... Abe can't seem to escape death.  But what of his own?

I'll have to admit, I sort of had a love-hate relationship with this book.  I liked it in the beginning.  I loved reading about Abe's childhood and guessing what parts of the novel were based on real facts. Somewhere in the middle of the novel, however, I started to lose interest.  Maybe I thought it was a bit over-the-top.  Maybe I just lost sight of the fact that this was supposed to be a fun novel and not a biographical work.  There were parts that were a little too violent for my tastes, but I know kids wouldn't mind.  However, as the book went on, my heart really started to ache for the former president who suffered so much loss in his lifetime.  I started to really appreciate the strength of this man, and all the while, he is slaughtering vampires!  And then... the end!  Oh, how I was angry at the way it ended.  I don't want to spoil this for anyone, so I will leave it at that.  But I am anxious to have this discussion with our high school students to find out what they think!  I'm also looking forward to seeing the movie... anything by Tim Burton has the potential for movie greatness!  Here's the trailer:

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