To my delight, American Vampire starts out as far from "paranormal romance" as you can get. I - and apparently netGalley - would classify it as horror, in which the everyman main character just happens to be a vampire. That's kind of awesome. I mean, it's nice to read a book involving vampires where the plot doesn't hang on some character discovering another character they care for is one, or discovering they themselves are unexpectedly supernatural and have a key role to play in some future conflict. Nope, here, the protagonist Graf knows very damn well he's a vampire, and while there is a period of ignorance for the secondary characters to that fact, when it is revealed, it's not a plot-stopping event. Er, well it is kind of plot-relevant, but in a more unusual way.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The protagonist here - I hesitate to say hero because for the vast majority of the book he's a very reluctant one - is Graf, the quintessential city pretty-boy who also happens to drink blood. On the vampire scale, he's somewhere around Spike circa Season Four: not a mad, bloodthirsty psychopath, but not a whimpering, angsty vampire with a soul, either. He's a dick, he doesn't care much for humans, and he'll kill them if he has to, but mostly he just wants to party.
Awesome. I have to admit, I really enjoyed Grif (er, I read him as Grif the first time and just stuck with it. The association was too much fun to ignore) as a character. He's an unabashed lying bastard who will con and kill you if it benefits him, and would probably be the charming bad guy in any other series, but here he makes for a good anti-hero. What's cool about American Vampire is that we get to see behind the charming facade - thankfully not (well, initially) to the marshmallow underneath, but to the panicky, amusingly self-serving asshole a bit out of his depth.
American Vampire does well putting Grif out of his element, in this situation he can neither understand nor control, with these people he doesn't get along with but is obligated to by circumstance, in a county with a monster bigger and badder than he is. Grif isn't accustomed to situations like this, and all he wants to do once he enters the small, appropriately-named town of Penance, Ohio, is get himself out by any means necessary. It may sound kind of weird to say, but it's nice seeing a vampire grapple with conflict not for some altruistic motive or lover, but for himself...
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