Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Generation V’ by M.L. Brennan

Fortitude Scott is a baby vampire who doesn’t want to be one.  He pretends to be human Generation V (American Vampire, #1)as much as possible despite knowing that his mother is the alpha predator of New England, keeping all other supernatural in line and wielding plenty of influence over the mortal one as well.  Poor Fortitude works at a coffee shop and tries to make rent; not at all helped by a deadbeat roommate skipping on rent and taking advantage of a unique relationship Fort’s girlfriend decided they should be in.  He sees his powerful family rarely but when the call comes, he goes.

This is not your typical vampire story.  We do not see one, NOT ONE, vampire hunter tracking down this shady hidden society.  Fort’s mother is a frail looking old lady, so immortality is out.  And while there is no lack of stunning, beautiful people (and things that can pass as them), we don’t have universal flawless complexions; Fortitude himself is slightly gangly and awkward and his sister Prudence is a striking, middle aged (looking) women.  And if you were thinking this was going to be one of those other kinds of vampire tales?  Well, sorry, nothing I saw was sparkling.

This was a story where the supernatural was hidden, but the supernatural being hidden wasn’t the focus of the story.  And to be honest, I can’t think of another story like it.  When Fortitude takes interest in a visiting vampire’s habits, and more specifically his conscience is horrified by the man’s actions, that’s when the story gets a move on.  After being saved from a mugging by fox that can turn human (kitsune are awesome) he realizes that being the low man in the supernatural totem pole will make stopping this monster hard.

This is a book with a tight plot and great pacing, but it truly is a character book (as in thriving due to characters, not an in depth character study).  Fortitude is a great narrator, with self-deprecating humor and always giving just enough info at the right moment.  He is something of an average guy as well, unable to rely on super vampire powers to act as a plot resolver.  Bodyguard slash tormenter Suzume (the main kitsune) was wonderful; saving Fort when needed and playing practical jokes when the time allowed.  She was much more of a typical kick ass Urban Fantasy heroine, and of course she is going to be a metaphorical fox as well as a supernatural one, but if she doesn’t make a reader laugh then said reader is dead inside.  And even she avoids perfection, it is made clear again and again that the elder vampires are above all.

Generation V works in several ways.  The back ground plot could work as a police procedural with supernatural elements (and amateurs instead of cops) and TV has proven that is a winning formula.  The humor, I must repeat, is top notch.  I got more than a smile out of much of this book, often I was just laughing.  It was also the set up for something larger.  Fortitude’s family dynamics should prove entertaining for quite some time.  His mother heads something larger than any criminal empire in fiction, yet shows as a frail old lady.  Brother Chivalry seems likable, but is also firmly in his mother’s control.  And Prudence.  Oh, my I couldn’t help but love that bloodthirsty monster.

4 Stars.  I enjoyed this book so much I moved right into the next one….

PS, I have repeated this all over the blogosphere but this truly is a horrible cover.  I really thought this was a tie in to one of the supernatural teen TV shows that air before Big Bang Theory reruns over here.  They should have went with a fox.

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