Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (Fred, the Vampire Accountant #1) by Drew Hayes

Fred did not lead an exciting life as an accountant.  You would think that dying would finally add some excitement to Fred's existence but you would be wrong.  Sure, as a vampire he had to change to a largely liquid diet and begin working from home but beyond that, Fred's life was all good red wine and cheese, and working at night from home. Contrary to everything that Fred had read and the movies he had watched about vampires, becoming one didn't really change the essence of who you are.

Fred's life (read: unlife) might have stayed boring had he not decided tot take a risk and go to his high school reunion.  When a former acquaintance starts to flirt with him, Fred isn't exactly receptive because with his new vampire senses, he can tell that she's playing around and not really into him. Being teased and learning that the captain of the high school football team is still in great shape and attracting women should have been the worst thing to happen that night.  When werewolves show up determined to slaughter the graduating class, for the first time Fred realises that vampires aren't the only parahumans who go bump in the night.

I have to admit that I chose to read this book based largely on its title.  I've always been a sucker for odd urban fantasy novels.  I like that Fred is absolutely socially awkward and dresses in sweater vests. He's a nerds nerd, who has a lifetime of bullying to back that up.  I love that becoming a vampire didn't make Fred into a suave lover who sparkles in the sunlight but simply gave him things like enhanced hearing, strength and balance.  Because Fred is a fledgling, he's just as ignorant of the world that he inhabits as the reader.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant isn't told in one cohesive story and instead reads like a collection of short stories with Fred collecting people and information along the way.  Towards the end of the book, I found myself becoming tired with this writing device for the simple reason that had I wanted to read a collection of short stories, I would have picked one up. Though I still want to find out what happens to Fred in the next book in this series, I really do hope that Hayes drops this kind of format and sticks to a traditional plot line for a book.

Each new chapter or phase serves to give Fred his very own Scooby gang. For the first time in his life, Fred actually ends up with friends that he can depend on and even a gorgeous girlfriend. Sure, he still hates confrontation and has been known to go catatonic in the presence of an ancient dragon in the guise of a child but hey, who's perfect?

Krystal (yes, the spelling is annoying), is Fred's girlfriend who works as an agent so super secret that its name cannot be revealed.  Krystal is full of snark and completely independent.  She's confidant in her skills and is convinced that she doesn't need a man to come running in on a white horse to save her.  Krystal is used to risking her life and as strong as Fred is, at the end of the day, he's no match for her.  In fact, when Krystal is kidnapped, she specifically whispers to Fred not to attempt to save her, trusting that he will have faith that she can get herself out of rough situations.  Having had a few successes under his belt playing hero and being brave, Fred decides not to heed her request leading to Krystal not only killing her kidnapper but saving Fred. My only real quibble with Krystal's character is that when she was in highschool with Fred she was fat and now of course as agent who polices the supernatural she is thin and hot. Yeah there's a mystical reason why she is skin now but I really don't like the idea that fat equals unattractive and skinny equals hot.

In terms of LGBT inclusion we have Bubba, who unfortunately develops a crush on Fred after Fred helps him clear out his gambling debt with a casino owning dragons.  I really could have done without that. Why is it that LGBT characters inevitably seem to have a crush on a straight character? It's Krystal who informs Fred about Bubba's crush saying, "Bubba is gay Like real gay. Gayer than a unicorn butt-fucking a rainbow."  Not only is this clearly homophobic, it doesn't even make any sense.  It's further troubling that unlike the rest of his people, instead of turning into a horse, Bubba turns into a pony. It's absolutely played for comic relief but in many ways it serves to demean Bubba's character. If this was all Bubba was in The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant, I would definitely have a problem with his character. It would be fair to say that Bubba is an equal member of the scooby gang and therefore central to the plot. Bubba is tough and plays the role of the heavy but also can be counted on to provide special resources when needed.  Fred comes to depend on him and they work well together.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant, very much lives up to its name.  Its filled with snarky one liners and characters in odd ball scenarios requiring odd ball solution. I love that Fred is just so socially awkward and admits that his special skill is running away from confrontation rather than engaging it.  He has managed to amass and interesting group of friend who clearly have the wrong stuff but it's all very fun.  Fred isn't going to be anybody's idea of a typical smoky sexy vampire anytime soon but I like him better this way.