M.L. Brennan’s debut, Generation V, is the first novel about Fortitude Scott. The second book, Iron Night, was released earlier this month, and there will be at least one more book in the series after that one.
“I’m mostly human. But that leaves me a little vampire.” [pp. 15]
Fortitude Scott is a young, low level vampire nearly indistinguishable from humans: he has to drink blood every once in awhile, but he doesn’t yet have fangs, an aversion to daylight, the ability to heal, or great strength. That’s fine with him since Fort is a gentle soul who dreads the day he becomes a full-fledged vampire like his mother and two older siblings. He wonders if all the terrible things they do will continue to bother him then and finds the thought that they may not terrifying. He resists going home to feed, preferring to feel as close to human as possible.
Yet Fort needs blood and his mother does become insistent he return home eventually. When he is forced to finally visit his mother for a family dinner, she informs him that his presence will be required the following evening. At first, Fort resists, but she manages to pique his curiosity by informing him that they will be entertaining another vampire visiting from Naples, and this will give Fort a chance to see if other vampires act like his nearest relations, the only ones he’s ever known.
Unfortunately, Fort discovers their European visitor is morally reprehensible. Fort is appalled by his treatment of humans he keeps in captivity, tries to stand up to him, and fails miserably, earning himself a kitsune bodyguard courtesy of his concerned mother. When he reads that the woman the visiting vampire had with him is dead the next morning and sees an article about two young girls who went missing, he is convinced this visitor is responsible for the kidnapping—and determined to stop him even when those far more powerful than he believes it to be a fool’s errand.
Generation V is one of the best opening volumes to an urban fantasy series I’ve ever read. In fact, I thought it was a stronger start to a series than any of the first volumes in my current favorites in this speculative fiction subgenre. It’s both funny and heart-warming, and it’s an incredibly entertaining story. By the end, I was surprised by just how attached I’d become to the various characters and how much I wanted to read more about them.
It did start a bit slowly since it took some time to introduce Fort’s situation in life and the unique vampire mythology. The beginning introduces all the problems in Fort’s human life—a not-particularly-useful college degree, a terrible job at a coffee shop making equally terrible beverages, a roommate who refused to pay his share of the rent, and a girlfriend who didn’t respect him—while introducing his family and filling in some of his history. Fort’s first visit home did read a bit too neatly as an introduction to the characters and a lesson in how vampirism works in this world, but it was important to know and interesting to learn about how vampires are created. Fort himself has been kept in the dark about many of these details so I’m sure there will be more to discover in future installments, and some rather intriguing hints have been dropped about his own creation being a bit different from that of his siblings. With his calculating mother, I’m quite curious about what her motivations may have been and find it curious that each of her children seems to harbor more good qualities than the previous one.
I also liked that Generation V had some other differences from common vampire lore, like how it handled immortality. While vampires do live for a very long time, they do die eventually and they are not ageless. Fort’s mother is old and wrinkled, and his oldest sister appears middle-aged. His older brother is young and beautiful as a full-fledged vampire who isn’t too old, but it also keeps from glamorizing the life of a vampire. Fort is horrified by their coldness, and even handsome Chivalry doesn’t seem too incredibly wonderful, especially considering what he has to do to survive and the consequences for his wife.
The book moves at a decent pace, especially once Fort attempts to stand up to the foreign vampire, but the highlight for me was the various characters. Fort himself is endearing. Despite his impending vampire-hood, he’s mostly an ordinary person. He’s not yet powerful, and he’s not even particularly smart or exceptional by human standards. Yet he’s incredibly compassionate and empathetic and has a drive for justice that makes him compelling: he’s determined to do whatever he can, no matter how ill-advised, to try to help others.
The other characters grew on me quite a bit throughout the book as well as they were revealed to have more dimensions. In particular, I’m intrigued by Chivalry. He’s the first character Fort interacts with in the book, and my first impression was not a good one. He commands Fort to come home and they have a rather unpleasant interaction, but it turned out he wasn’t as bad as he initially seemed. He’s certainly not an angel by any means, but he also seems to truly have a soft spot for his brother and is the only one in his family who seems to look out for Fort. I also enjoyed the dynamic between Fort and Suzume, his kickass kitsune bodyguard. She’s a carefree spirit and very much Fort’s opposite in personality, and she was a character I became quite fond of.
Generation V is a strong start to a new series and is one of the better urban fantasy books I have read. It seems as though it’s building a foundation for later books so there is a lot of introduction and setup, but there are some hints dropped that leave the impression that there’s a lot more to unearth in later books. This promise of further exploration of the world combined with characters I loved and want to read more about makes me very eager to read the next book.
My Rating: 8/10
Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the author.
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