Vampire Geek Becomes Superhero. Reviewing Charles O’Keefe’s “The Newfoundland Vampire”

Greetings, dear readers. I stand (well, okay, sit) before you today with a difficult mission: I have to figure out how to sum up my feelings about Charles O’Keefe’s “The Newfoundland Vampire” in 500 words or so. I’m just not sure that I can do it. You see, this is, hands-down, one of the most difficult reviews that I’ve ever written. Why? Well, let’s talk about why.

Mr. O’Keefe contacted me requesting the review, as you really should do when you’re trying to build word-of-mouth. While I love helping fellow writers, I have reservations for taking these on, for lots of different reasons. I typically decline, unless the subject matter sounds interesting to me. When the author contacted me, I Googled up a description. Okay, sure, I was a little burned out on vampires, but I figured this one had an interesting premise, which I’ll get to in a bit. Bottom line, deciding to take on the challenge of reviewing a new author is tough – you worry about saying the wrong thing and screwing up someone’s career. Continue reading

Torn in Two: Reviewing Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One

This book illustrated the difference between reading as a reader and reading as an author. The crux of the problem: my inner geek fell in love with this book, while the objective side of my mind had a hard time overlooking the flaws. This is an attempt to tackle critique from both viewpoints. Keep that in mind if this review is a bit fractured.

My two sides didn’t always war; they agreed on the characters, or rather, the lack thereof. I had difficulty forming a clear view of the characters early on. It took me some time to figure it out, dazzled as I was by the nostalgia rushing through my system: they are stereotypes. The reclusive loner. The so-punk-it-hurts snarky girl who helps the protagonist “level up” at relationships by accepting her despite her one small flaw. The jock. The honorable Japanese character. Cline misses a big chance to make up for this by turning his villains into generic “Bob Evils” of “Evilcorp” stand-in company IOI. We learn that the antagonist once designed video games, but see no hint of how he went from a benign game designer to a soulless murderer. Lost opportunity there. Continue reading