There’s an old adage deriding the judging of books by their covers. I’ve long thought that adage should be amended to more specifically target book blurbs, and I’m more convinced than ever that I’m right about this after reading Z Rider’s debut novel, Suckers.
As you can see from higher up this page, the summarising blurb paints Suckers as some kind of hybrid zombie-vampire apocalyptic read, which frankly, sounded pretty damn good to me. But in reality, Rider here serves up something more akin to a dramatic exploration of the depths of friendship than an outright horror as pseudo-successful band members Dan and Ray are attacked by a bat-like creature within pages of the opening, setting off a chain of events that will strain the limits of the bond they’ve developed since high school.
You see Dan gets bitten and pretty soon starts needing blood. The story is told from his third-person perspective, and the way Rider gets into his head is commendable. You’re never sure what he’s becoming and whether there is any way forward for him, but Ray is right there with him, helping him in any way he can and keeping his secret while he does it. At this point, I was pretty sure what was going to happen, but I’m pleased to say I was way off base.
Therein, however, lies a major problem. At one point Suckers sets itself up to be about a band struggling with a monster in their midst, but then it completely changes its direction, while still promising apocalyptic horror. But it does not deliver on that promise. Instead it spends a good number of its pages having characters talk about the badness that is happening throughout the country. They watch news reports and comment on it. Then they go charging off to a secluded location to avoid the worst of what seems to be coming their way. Yet nothing of note ever really seems to happen to them. And when it does, it occurs away from Dan’s (and therefore the reader’s) viewing. I kept waiting for things to go (ahem) bat-shit crazy. Instead, I got the Dan and Ray Dramatic Moments Show.
I should emphasise at this point that I think Rider has a definite career as a writer ahead of her. The quality of her prose is strong and her characterisations of the three band members (yes, there’s a third wheel in this band’s mix) was detailed enough to get a real feel for them. But the story itself required more intensity, more action, and definitely more peril; or at the very least a re-blurbing.
3 Unfulfilled Love Bites for Suckers.
The preceding was based on two copies of the book – one provided by the author and the other by Netgalley – in exchange for an honest review.
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