Saturday, 10 November 2012
Review: Need by Todd Gregory
The story follows Cord (yet another example of a US first name that you would never find in the UK). He was turned into a vampire about two years ago (or maybe three, the book changes its mind about this about half way through) and has enjoyed a privileged life as his maker's favourite since then, partying it up and having lots of orgasmic gay sex with the rest of the vampire gang. When things turn sour, and Cord realises that he's only really the flavour of the month, he takes off and returns to the city where he was first turned, New Orleans. He's still relatively new at this vampire business and very naive, and this leads to Cord making a mistake which brings him to the attention of a group of Nightwatchers, a sort of vampire police force.
Whilst I overall enjoyed this book, it certainly wasn't without flaws. Much of the book hangs on how well you like Cord and I found that I did on the whole. He's only in his early 20s and that shows in his overall attitude during the book. He hasn't yet got past that slightly tiresome stage that many young people go through where they think they are the centre of everything and the whole world should cater to them. It's therefore a bit of a slap in the face for Cord to discover that actually he's just one of many pretty faces to his maker, and that once on his own he knows next to nothing about being a vampire or vampire society. Even once he learns of his own insignificance, he tries to deny it to himself. Some readers may find this annoying, but I didn't. Instead it seemed a true reflection of the sort of behaviour you get from a man of Cord's age and for the most part I went with it, especially as we see some character growth in Cord as the novel progresses.
The story isn't a romance, but an erotic paranormal. Cord has sex several times in the book and on each occasion it's the best sex he ever had, even better than the best sex he had 10 pages previously. The latter part of the book is almost exclusively devoted to a series of sex scenes and I have to admit I was suffering a little by sex fatigue at that point. All the sex is written from what I consider a very male perspective with the focus firmly on the genitals, nipple and arseholes, with a side order of muscle worship. There's nothing wrong with this type of sex, and I can think of several readers who will love the earthy descriptions and the roughness to the sexual acts that are shown in this book. However, personally I prefer a little more emotional connection in my sex scenes and so these often left me a little cold. Some of the sex borders on non-consensual and so those readers who have a strong dislike of this theme should stay away from this book.
The paranormal mystery plot itself is pure popcorn and resolved fairly easily. I liked the initial set up with Cord and the mistake he makes, but then the book takes a sudden turn and it all got a bit far fetched. Having said that, the world of the vampires and the various rules they are supposed to abide by was imaginative, as was Cord's struggles to find his way as a new vampire. Plus once we get away from the sex, the paranormal scenes are described clearly and with an eye for action. The denouement in particular was tense and gripping.
However, the biggest flaw of the book is that much of the background to the story is told in flashback. Those of you who know me will know that I don't mind the judicial use of flashback in a story, and it can be a useful tool in a narrative. In this book flashback scenes are used all the time, particularly at the beginning of the book and I was left feeling rather frustrated that we couldn't just get on with the actual story. Every time the plot progressed it was held up by further flashback scenes which had the result of slowing the narrative. This wasn't dull or boring, but it was a little tedious after a while and affected how engaged I was with the book as a whole.
Overall, as you can see I had mixed feelings about this book. The character of Cord was done well, and I even rather liked the only female character in the whole book - finding her bitchy sniping at Cord rather amusing. The rest of the characters are only sketchy and often used as willing bodies to worship at the shrine of Cord in all his loveliness, or for Cord to worship them in all their hard-muscled glory. I wasn't bored though and read the book quickly. It even looks to be perhaps the start of a series and I'll happily read further books. If you're looking for a vampire book which in no way takes itself too seriously, or a relatively entertaining sex romp with a paranormal twist, then this book may be just the ticket and it gets (just) a grade of 'Good' from me.
Buy this book HERE.