Adolescent vampire novels are a dime a dozen and most of them revolve around a teenage girl with a love interest who happens to be a not-so evil, impossibly sexy vampire. It’s the kind of boring cliché that drives the male segment of the populace away from urban fantasy. There are exceptions to the rule and these stories can be not only fun to read, but also refreshing because they don’t follow the expected paths.
If you worked at a coffee shop, drove a terrible car, had a girlfriend who was unceasingly unkind and a room-mate who didn’t pay his half of the rent you would be Fortitude Scott. Being broke and working for an awful boss is tough, but lots of people have to deal with that. It’s the other side of Fort’s life that makes it especially rough. As the child of a vampire, Fortitude will eventually become a vampire, but he is fighting the process. The price he pays leaves him ostracized from his wealthy family and carefully avoiding eating meat.
M.L. Brennan stops following the path oft taken at this point. Not only is Fort a do-gooder who treasures his humanity, but Brennan is consistent in not letting him dip into the vampire side of his future just to overcome problems. When get gets beat up, he can’t suddenly be powerful for a minute just to avoid a set of lumps. When interacting with his family, he has to eat a lot of humble pie because he is fighting becoming who he will eventually become.
Brennan also gives us some terrific bad guys to hate. Whether it’s the creepy euro-trash vampire visiting from overseas or his minion who seems only marginally human, these are disgusting characters. It’s not that the whole world is bad and only Fortitude is good — there are ambiguous characters, too, especially in Fortitude’s older brother Chivalry who we are left to wonder about.
I really like that Brennan didn’t stick with the typical vampire versus werewolf cliché. The interaction between the vampires, especially young Fortitude, and the Kitsune, Japanese shapeshifters, adds a nice layer of complexity and depth to Brennan’s world.
Without giving away too much, Fortitude is forced to learn more about who he is going to become and the choices that he can make along the way. It’s not a one-step process and there are painful lessons to learn. I particularly enjoyed Brennan’s detailed approach to how vampires come to be. It’s details like that and avoiding cliché plotlines that really set Generation V apart for me. I’m sure I will relish the next book, Iron Night.