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Book Review: Vampire Weekend by Mike Chen

Was I just living a depressing vampire life with a really excellent soundtrack?

Vampire weekendVampire Weekend by Mike Chen tells a different kind of vampire tale than I’ve ever read. In the book's world, vampires definitely exist, but not living that sexy, sucking-on-necks kind of lifestyle. Instead they keep their existence secret.

Louise Chao is such a vampire. She lives in San Francisco and works the night shift at a hospital; her role as a janitor gives her easy access to expired blood, which keeps her living. She’s recently started trying to find a new punk rock band she can play guitar in, but it’s not going well. And then a distant relative, Ian, kind of shows up on her doorstep, changing her quiet world. 

This book made me think about why I love the books I love, the reading prejudices I have, and why I stick with a book and finish it rather than just returning it. One of the literary tropes I avoid is what I think of as the romance-novel finish: a complication is set up and then the point of the plot is to turn the complication into a happy ending. The story doesn’t necessarily have to have romance for the trope. It’s just the sense you get as the story moves along: there’s definitely going to be a happy ending.

I avoid those books.

What does it say about me that I don’t want a happy ending? That I am a miserable person who steeps in sorrow, relishes tragedy, savors darkness? Maybe. Or maybe it’s my need to keep my shell up. If you go around hoping for happy endings for your literary characters, the next step is hoping for happy endings for yourself, and. Well. That’s just setting yourself up for disappointment.

(Which is ridiculous because my life has plenty of happiness. I just don’t trust that it will stick around.)

Anyway, at first this novel felt like it was a romance-novel-finish vampire tale with some really cool punk rock musical references thrown in. I almost didn’t stick with it. But it ended up being the only book in the car with me one day when I had to wait for an hour with nothing to do. So I bought myself a Crumbl cookie and started reading.

And I kind of fell in love with the story.

To be honest: it kind of really IS a romance-novel-finish vampire tale with some really cool punk rock musical references. But I also just really enjoyed Louise’s journey as she lets herself be more open to happiness, and to exploring the way she really wants to live, and to figure out where she fits in her community.

Plus it made me dig out my Blondie albums, so yes: I had fun reading this book. “Fun” is not something I seek out in my books, but this one hit the right balance between fun and meaningful.

I’m glad I read it.

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