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Customer Review

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun with science, fun with vampires, April 11, 2001
This review is from: Children of the Night (Mass Market Paperback)
A while ago I wrote a review of "Summer of Night" and without realizing what I was doing, called this book a sequel to that book . . . I wasn't completely wrong, this is a spiritual successor to that book, one of the characters from "Summer" plays a big role in events and some of the other characters get at least one mention. The theme couldn't be any more different though. Simmons makes the book work on two levels here, trying to tell a thrilling suspense story while at the same time turning the vampire myth completely inside out. That's right, what he does here is propose a scientific mechanism (based on a recessive mutation) why they have to drink blood and what that means. This all comes about when the original Vlad Dracula decides that it's time to die and decrees that a new heir must be invested. Unfortunately the heir gets adopted by an American doctor, who tries to figure out why the baby can go from almost dead to perfectly healthy just be a blood transfusion. The science part of all of this is fascinating, some of it might be a little more science than people will want to read and if you're not well versed in biology or genetics a good part of it you're just going to have to take on faith and assume he did his research well. As far as I can tell, everything checks out so hats off to Simmons for taking the time. So all goes well until the vampires figure out where the kid went and go to get him back. At this point all the science takes a backseat for a cloak and dagger "let's sneak into a hostile foreign country where anyone could be a spy for the enemy and get the kid out before we're discovered and killed" at which point things become a little more generic but at the same time what sets this apart is Simmons' masterful gift for crafting the perfect sentence to set a mood, he's not as detailed in his descriptions as he has been in the past but he pulls out a good one when he needs to. The action is burtal and intense, the quieter moments are touching, you can't trust anyone, and it all comes to a rousing conclusion that you may or may not see coming (it didn't strike me until just before the end). Not "horror" per se, more of a dark adventure but ranks at the very least as one of his most entertaining and inventive books.
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Initial post: Mar 11, 2011 10:27:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2011 10:40:28 AM PST
Wow. I am shocked that anyone could say this many positive things about this awful book. The genetic/medical discussions were so dry, excessively detailed and downright boring as to be nothing more than the author showing off the fact that he read a few works on DNA and HIV and maybe is friends with or married to a bioscience researcher. He also engaged in more showing off with regard to the constant references to every street, road and highway in Romania - gee, the author bought some maps when he visited the country, so he can use them to add an extra 50 sentences to this novel.

There were so many plot flaws it was incredible - there were holes in this book's plot big enough to drive a truck through, such as the entire characters of Lucian and Vlad, how the baby came to be born and then taken to the orphanage, how anyone knew to set timers on the bombs for the precise correct date and time for an unspecified, not-yet-planned event several years in the future. Not to mention the numerous implausible escapes from seemingly impossible situations. Oh, yeah, how about why Ion can get shot in the head and chest point-blank with a shotgun (blowing large holes in his body and skull) at the beginning of the book, yet be fully functional in a matter of a few seconds, yet Lucien can completely immobilize him and two other vampires with a few pistol shots at the end of the book? And to praise the author's ability to craft a sentence??? I cannot recall a single memorable or well-crafted sentence in the entire book. This novel was churned out at high speed by an already-established author seeking to make money, not meet any sort of literary standards.

Oh, and by the way, I don't hate Dan Simmons - I loved his Hyperion science fiction series and thought that, with the exception of a few too many canned resolutions to difficult dilemmas, they were exceedingly well-written.
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