Generation V by M. L. Brennan
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human. But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how. But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…”
With the prevalence of vampire novels, it’s really hard to create a mythos that doesn’t closely resemble every other book out there. Brennan has done so, making vampires a hybrid of human and supernatural that I really haven’t seen in any other stories. I did like that the vampires are powerful, but not all-powerful. They don’t have any magical powers, and they’re not immortal. They are, however, not human in their attitudes and thinking, and the author makes that very evident.
Unusual in urban fantasy, this novel features a male main character. Fort is still mostly human as the story starts, and he’s constantly in conflict with his vampire family over his refusal to adopt their view of the rest of the world. Fort is perhaps a little less forceful as a main character than you might expect, but he’s set up as being somewhat in thrall to his powerful vampire relatives. He relies on them for the blood he needs to survive and, to a certain degree, for protection. The aforementioned family displays a wide variety of personalities, from cold-hearted Prudence to the somewhat compassionate Chivalry. They’re not stereotypical vampires by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s also nice to see an urban fantasy that goes easy on the romance. While there is a female character dogging Fort’s footsteps, she’s employed as a bodyguard and stays mainly to that role. Suzume is a kitsune, a fox shifter, and Brennan does a great job at giving her a worldview that is different from either humans or vampires. Suzume was my favorite character, brash and forward, mischievous and occasionally cruel. She’s an interesting contrast to Fort, who still holds many human values. While there may be romance between them in the future, this novel keeps them from falling into that overused pattern.
While this novel really soars on the strength of the characters, the worldbuilding and the history of vampires are fleshed out enough to keep the story from feeling too thin. Generation V is a different kind of vampire novel, one that features imperfect creatures instead of the indestructible powerhouses that too many authors resort to using. Plenty of action and a bit of vampiric mayhem round out a book that is a fast and attention-grabbing read.
Also by this author: Iron Night