Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry

My stupid laptop died with a fan error. I believe this makes it.. mmm 8 times I've had a laptop die. And each time, my reaction gets smaller. I barely even blinked this time (I have backups burned. Highly recommend backing up your things. Let this be a lesson). I find using this backup desktop annoying though. I can't pick this up and carry it around.

I wanted to post this review with a picture of my ARC and cover flat but yeah, the laptop death means I'll have to do that later. They look so pretty together. The cover is in a matte finish, I love that. This book comes out in trade paperback format on March 2008.

I won this book and the author is on my livejournal friendslist, so I was a bit nervous when I first saw it. I would feel weird if I didn't like this book. I wouldn't be able to lie about things I didn't like. So when I started reading, I was smiling – this book is awesome! I don't think I've read anything like it, mostly because of the main character.

The book reads like a memoir told from the first person viewpoint of a snarky-as-hell, newly-undead, fashionista socialite named Amanda Feral. An advertising executive with a tendancy to mock every single person she meets (if not out loud, in her head), she and her friends spend their time in one nightclub or another drinking and gossiping in Seattle. It's a pretty superficial existence, but fascinating to read about and picture – the nightlife of the undead in Seattle from the viewpoint of a newcomer like Amanda is chock-full of revelations. One in ten Seattle resident could be a werewolf, zombie, vampire, shapeshifter, god, demon or other, but humans take no notice as the supernaturals (including Amanda), prey on their numbers.

Amanda feasts on runaways and homeless people in a gorey way – unhinging her jaw and eating them in a few bites.  There's talk of blood spatter and intestines. The woman is brazenly un-P.C. She barely feels guilt for her kills or methods of luring people in, it's like a fun game most of the time, and I'm pretty sure she has something offensive to say about every subset of the population she encounters. And yet, she's so up-front and over the top about everything she ends up being quite funny and likeable. I thought that if the two ladies of Absolutely Fabulous became zombies, this is the type of book you'd get out of it. This book just did dark humor really well. My two favorite things:

1. Amanda has OCD and has a thing for lists, and she peppers her story with footnotes, which are just asides for things she's saying in the narration. My favorite one is number 50 on page 101. Not sure the numbering is going to be the same in the final so let's say second one on chapter 9:

"In high school – nasty old barnaby Ridge – I had been a lonely girl." The footnote for this sentence begins - "If this comes as a surprise, then you have overlooked the fact that I am a total bitch."

I laughed.

2. The crux of the plot – Amanda receives a text from a friend saying "help!". But Amanda despairs about her group's usefulness. "How are we going to help? Not a caring nurturer in the bunch". A gay vampire and two socialite zombies, they freak out despite their supernatural powers. When they discover that their friend is missing, they immediately seek the comfort of food and its a couple of days before Amanda starts looking into things. I'm not sure they're meant to be the bravest bunch, but they're the most.. something.

The story meandered around a bit, I think a testimony to Amanda's nature. I liked the unpredictability. There were little side stories told by Amanda's friends about their beginings, which Amanda titles the Inconderate Interludes of the Bitter and Pathetic, and helpful random insets from Amanda regarding DJ playlists and alcoholic drink recipes. And there's doubling back to add a confession or get back to the point.

You never know what is going to happen. I think the writer had fun and threw a couple of things in there to waylay the reader. Some big things and some subtle things. I'm wondering what was going on with the weather in Seattle (Raining for two months. Is that Seattle in-joke? I feel like I missed something vital).  Anyway. I had an amusing and unique ride. And. There is a second book. Road Trip of the Living Dead! My italics for emphasis.

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