Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Vampire Zero

Filed under: Art,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I finished Vampire Zero by David Wellington Friday night.

Vampire Zero is the third, and apparently last, book in the vampire series by Wellington that started with Thirteen Bullets and was followed by Ninety-nine Coffins.  I’ve already reviewed those here and, if you read those reviews, you’ll know that I think David Wellington has done a great job reinventing the vampire genre with his vision of the vampire as monster.  But, to me, that’s worth repeating, because I really hate the humanization and romanticizing of vampires that’s gone on in modern literature.  Wellington’s vampires, though, are monsters.  They’re like bipedal sharks who live on blood and think as well as humans and have their own form of culture.  But, they are like sharks.  They’re predators and they hunt humans.

In Vampire Zero, Wellington presents us with the last vampire hunter, Pennsylvania State Trooper Laura Caxton, who’s trying to hunt down her old mentor, Jameson Arkeley.  In 99 Coffins, he took on the vampire curse to help Caxton lay the brood of Civil War era vampires to rest, because she just couldn’t quite manage it herself.  In that book, Arkeley claimed he would dispatch those beasties, and then turn himself in to Caxton for his own execution.  As you might imagine, he wasn’t quite able to pass that final test and retreated out into the world.  Naturally, Caxton is the only one really qualified to hunt and kill vampires, so she ends up trying to track Arkeley down before he gives into the bloodlust of the vampire curse and starts killing humans, or, worse, starts making more vampires.   Before he becomes “Vampire Zero”.  The term, of course, is derived from regular epidemiology, where “patient zero” is the first known case from which all other cases of a disease derived.  In this case, however, the disease is even more deadly than anything we’ve ever imagined.

Naturally, she doesn’t quite manage to stop Arkeley from making more than one new vampire, but it’s a long, twisty ride to that point.  Caxton stays hot on her former mentor’s trail, becoming more and more like him along the way.  She even becomes a Special Deputy U.S. Marshall, just like Arkeley was before he turned.  The difference, of course, is that Caxton can see what’s happening.  She can see how she’s becoming harder and colder and more driven, while caring less and less about other people’s feelings, as she gets closer to her mentor-turned-vampire, in more ways than one.  But, she also has to fight the system, the bureaucrats, the paper-work and the less motivated public servants.  It’s no easy job, even for someone far less human and caring than Laura Caxton.
It’s brilliant work.  Both Caxton’s and Wellington’s.  The writing and the story are both really, really engaging and compelling.  No less so for the fact that humanity’s future may well hang in the balance.  Something, incidentally, that Caxton is quite aware of pretty much all the time.  But, Wellington’s writing and Caxton’s awareness don’t distract from the action at all.

In short, this is a great ending to a great series.  Though, the way the book ends, there is room for a sequel.  At least one more.  I hope Wellington writes that eventually.  I do love his work and these books.
So, hopefully, I’ve given you enough warm, fuzzy feelings about a vampire book and series to get you to check out Vampire Zero, after hitting the other two books, of course.  It was a damn fine read.

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