American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout
February 22, 2011
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
“You threatened to kill me before.”
“Yeah…that was before. It seems like there’s competition for the job now and I’m not one to follow a trend.”
Graf just wanted to get to his sire’s annual 4th of July party but a wrong turn brings him to Penance, Ohio. A town literally stuck in time. Jessa, a town resident, knows something is wrong with Graf but he’s the only one she can trust right now. A monster is loose in Penance and Jessa knows that Graf is the only one who can save her-even if it means dying.
I found myself liking this book much more then I thought I would. An interesting premise of a very modern vampire stuck in a small minded town with no way to leave. The beginning starts out slow as we follow modern vampire Graf McDonald through the actions that lead him to Penance, Ohio. He stops at a gas station to get a map & snack and there he finds Jessa hiding in fear. She claims, “It” is coming and they must hide. Graf and Jessa get off on a bad start when Graf grabs Jessa, hightails it out of gas station, then abandons her on the side of the road. He’s ready to get away from this crazy woman but soon finds out he can’t leave. Nobody has left Penance in five years. As he backtracks to Jessa, we get his POV which provides a somewhat jarring but funny commentary on his feelings towards Jessa-she’s human- which means she food. He cons and threatens Jessa into letting him stay at her house and again we are treated to antagonistic funny inner monologues from both of them as they each consider how they will “get what they want” from the other.
I had to grow into liking Graf and Jessa. This isn’t a romantic vampire story. Graf doesn’t come across as the heart throb hero who will solve the towns problems and carry Jessa off on his white stallion. Nope. Graf is snarky, devious, petulant, and wholly unconcerned with Jessa or the town’s plight. He just wants out and doesn’t care how it happens. It was interesting to watch his dealings with Jessa change from adversarial to ally as he begins to think like a human again.
Jessa comes off at first as a paranoid, judgmental pain in the arse. She instinctively knows there is something wrong with Graf but has no idea the extent of it. At first I was annoyed by her attitude and the way the town treats her. As we get her back story though, you realize that you can’t out run your past and that’s doubly hard when you can’t even out run the town.
The romance between Graf and Jessa builds very slowly. These are two very different people even excluding the whole human/not human issue. Jessa doesn’t see anything sexy or attractive about vampires. She sees Graf as a blood sucking monster. Graf sees Jessa as a pain in the butt nag who he wants to either shag or eat. Their dealings with each other become more humorous as Graf begins to see Jessa less like a nagging happy meal and Jessa sees that maybe Graf isn’t as evil as she believed him to be. In one scene Graf is comforting Jessa while she cries and he feels very awkward. He compares the situation to hugging an ice cream cone.
The secondary characters are ambiguous. Neither good nor bad-they were just there. They are the perfect example of small town redneck mentality and I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Armintrout wasn’t poking a little fun here herself. From the high school football star that everyone idolizes to his daisy duke chain smoking wearing pregnant wife; everyone is too perfect.
The world building is pretty simple; atypical of the normal paranormal vampire stories out there now. The vampire isn’t the main theme and the plot is pretty straight forward. I knew about halfway through who did it and why but it’s still engaging as Ms. Armintrout leads you to the finale. I did feel there were some scenes that fell flat while others resolved themselves abruptly without rhyme or reason.
I did enjoy her descriptions of the town and the way their lives had been changed by their circumstances. Since they have no contact with the outside, we are given indepth explanations to what the town has done to survive.
I enjoyed the ending if only for the running dialogue between Jessa And Graf.
“Graf no!” “You stick to helping the wounded you fucking moron!”
It ends quick and without much fanfare. I would liked it to have divulged a little more into the whole scheme and the villain’s mindset concerning the whole event. All in all an interesting story that is shaped and molded by it’s unusual characters.