Scott Bowen,
The Vampire Survival Guide
(Skyhorse, 2008)

Max Brooks really had a good idea when he wrote The Zombie Survival Guide, which first saw the light of day in 2003. In perfectly clipped, dry tones, Brooks explained the best ways to prepare for and survive a zombie uprising. The book is funny because Brooks never tries to be funny. He takes himself perfectly seriously throughout.

Now, Scott Bowen has tried to repeat Brooks' formula with The Vampire Survival Guide. Unfortunately, Bowen tries to be funny, and isn't.

The presentation is good. This book looks and feels and, for the most part, reads like an actual survival guide. Bowen discusses weapons and strategies with enough expertise to show he did his research. But he too often veers into the just plain silly; for instance, he instructs couples on how to squeeze a few moments of hasty sex into a standoff situation, and answers a question from a reader who wonders if it's immoral to hire a vampire to bite his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend so he can feel justified in "slaying" him.

More isn't better, Scott. Next time, try writing less and staying more focused on your purpose. If this book had meandered less, I'd have enjoyed it more. As it is, I can't say I feel at all prepared for the inevitable vampire invasion.

review by
Tom Knapp

21 February 2009

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