Khanh the Killjoy

Generation V

Generation V - M.L. Brennan This book was just pure fun to read. The plot is not complicated, the characters are not highly complex. It does not have aspirations or pretense to be any higher or more complicated than it actually is; there are no underlying messages or digs upon the nature of man vs. beast, just a simple story of a young vampire trying to come to terms with his own morality and grow his very own spine, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.I love my beta heroes. Not the snarky, asshole hipster type (à la Hold Me Closer, Necromancer), but the more softspoken types. Fort (short for Fortitude) is definitely the point of being a doormat. His siblings, Prudence and Chilvalry are full-fledged vampires, with the looks and power to match, Fort is just a tropey little half-vampire trying to resist the calls of his baser half, hanging on to his humanity and being a vegetarian while gritting his teeth and resisting the feedings that his body so desperately desires.He is walked all over at work by his rhymes-with-witch of a boss, Jeanine. Even more pathetically, his roommate Larry not only has not paid his share of the rent for the past four months, but is sleeping with Fort's on-again-off-again girlfriend Beth. "After which they both found it useful to quote Sartre at me to explain how unreasonable it was of me to object."His relationship with Beth is hysterical, and serves to highlight how completely spineless Fort is initially, I mean, just look at what happens after a fight...if you can even term it that:"Beth had accused me of having repressively traditionalistic gender and sexual beliefs and told me to read Judith Butler. I’d ended up so much on the defensive that I actually apologized to her when I dropped her off at her apartment. Two days later she’d sent me a sixteen-page e-mail that outlined her view of what a modern and liberated relationship was supposed to look like, which boiled down to her being able to have sex with as many people as she liked.To give credit where it was due, it was really well argued, and the footnotes were flawless."**There are quite a few digs at academia/Ivy Leaguers ;)Fort's mother, Madeline, is in charge of the New England area, New York, a good deal of Canada. She's got politicians and various other powerful characters under her thumb and in her thrall. The main plot starts when Madeline invites Luca, an Old World vampire into her territory, and offers him hospitality while he is within it."'Hospitality grants him the same rights that my children enjoy. To move freely in my territory. To engage with those who live within my borders. To seek prey as he wishes.'"Luca rather abuses that advantage of hospitality, meaning he molests a child under his protection and starts preying on other young girls and killing their families. Fort has a problem with that, but there's not much he can do witout violating his own mother's laws of conduct within her territory. As he is reminded again and again by his mother and brother and just about every supernatural creature with whom he comes into contact, Fort is altogether too human. His brother reminds him that as hard as it is, Fort is going to have to let his emotions go. Don't feel too much, he's going to be around for a long time, hundreds and hundreds of years, and if he lets everything hurt him as much as it does, it will only break him eventually.As it has been reiterated in so many vampire novels, Fort is trying to hang onto his humanity despite his true nature; no matter what kind of monster he will be one day, he is not one yet, and he refuses to let an injustice go by unpunished when he can try to do something to stop it. And he does try to stop it despite his lack of strength, his lack of skills, his lack of vampirism, period.Enter Suzume: his bodyguard. She is his polar opposite, and by far my favorite character in this book. If Fort is lacking a spine, she has enough for two, or nine. Suzume is a kitsune, a fox shape shifter. Generally, fox creatures in legend are mischievous, tricksters, dangerously capricious, and volatile as hell. Suzume is no different. She enters Fort's life and immediately turns it upside down. I could not stop laughing at her first day in Fort's life. He has no idea what he's in for when his mother assigned Suz as his bodyguard. She can manipulate the mind, manipulate emotions, induce pure terror when she chooses to. She can fight, she can shape-shift. Suzume is just a pure, seductive, and occasionally furry ball of kick-assery. With Fort, she's got her job cut out for her.“What kind of bodyguard doesn’t stop me from getting mugged?” I asked incredulously.“The kind who wants to know exactly how much handholding this assignment is going to require,” she answered.“How much is that?”“Apparently the same amount as walking a five-year-old girl across the street. Was assuming the fetal position and trusting that they wouldn’t kick anything critical really your best plan?”She changes his passwords, wreaks havoc at his workplace, engages in Facebook warfare with his ex, creates a scene on a bus where Fort is exposed to an amused crowd as the pushover he really is. All joking aside, Suzume is seriously dangerous and good at what she does."'Keep one thing in mind, Fortitude,' she hissed, low and dangerous. 'I'm not some were-critter. I'm not a woman who can turn into a fox when she feels like it. I'm a fox who can become a woman. Try to remember that.'"Her true nature is that of nogitsune. "It means field fox, Fort. It means to be without kindness, to just be a trickster, a nuisance, a danger. It means not caring about consequences. It means to have to live outside the human cities...But it also means to value your own survival."The question is, will she go against her nature to help Fort, or abandon him to his ultimately Quixotic venture?This book is not scary. It deals with Fort and Suzume's nature, and and their question of morality and where they're willing to draw the line when it comes to right and wrong. It deals with humanity when you are a monster, as other books of this nature do. There is nothing groundbreaking about it, but it is well-written, and absolutely hilarious at parts. There is no pretension, the characters are enjoyable and well-crafted, and an absolute delight to read.Oh, and need I mention the disgruntled elf OB/GYN?"'I graduated from Harvard,' she bit out. The battle cry of a thousand Ivy Leaguers with their credibility questioned."