by AM Riley, fantasy (2009)
Loose Id, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-999-7
AM Riley's Immortality Is The Suck is a hilarious dark comedy tinged with exquisite violence and gore. Oh, there is romance as well, but it's a controversial one. I'll get to that later. Let's just say that the romance isn't the main focus of the story, which is about Adam getting used to life as a vampire and kicking rear ends in the process. If you love your urban fantasy stories tinged with dark and macabre humor, you may just love this baby.
Adam Bertoni, a tough and rugged undercover cop, is dead. Yes, dead. He's shot - bang, bang, bang - during a drug bust gone wrong and his friend-with-benefit Peter Ortiz, of the LAPD, goes eek-eek-eek as poor Adam departs this existence. Aw shucks, Adam didn't know Peter cared that much.
And then Adam comes to consciousness in the Los Angeles County Morgue. Wait, isn't he dead? It turns out that he is now a bloodsucking vampire who has to resort to mugging innocent folks on the street for fare money. Adam decides to seek out his best friend Peter to help him out while he tries to sort out his life and finish what he was trying to do when those bastards shot him. Adam was set up, predictably, and now he wants to find out who did it and why.
Adam tells this story from his first person point of view, and my, he breaks down the fourth wall like nobody's business.
It was a lot like when I was seventeen and I sat on the roof of my father's trailer and contemplated a series of facts leading to an obvious conclusion.
1) Every time Jackie Spence, the quarterback on our team, leaned over in the locker room I popped a boner.
2) Despite being first string on that team, I hadn't done anything with a girl but get blown.
3) I didn't WANT to do anything with a girl, though I wouldn't have minded getting blown by Jackie Spence.
4) And need we even mention what I fantasized about while jerking off?
Truthfully, the current series of facts was easier for me to swallow.
1) I'd bled to death in a warehouse. Peter had seen me bleed to death.
2) I'd woken in a morgue.
3) I craved blood.
4) I seemed able to perform athletically far beyond my previous capabilities.
5) I caught on fire in the sunlight and then I healed at breathtaking speed.
We'd laughed about it, Peter and I, but what else do you do when your friend's a vampire? It was a fucking cliché, is what it was. Jeeves, bring me my cape. Shit.
Now, I don't want you to think I'm saying that figuring out I'm queer was like discovering I'm the Evil Dead. Damn, I can imagine the letters already. From the politically correct and the religious right. Of course, if you're the religious right and you're reading this story, I have to wonder.
It is a great thing, therefore, I find Adam a hilarious and most engaging narrator. He is not a nice guy, by the way. His actions are far from noble here, and he makes no apologies for that. It is a testament to Ms Riley's skill and perhaps my perverse fascination for such bad boys that I still find Adam too adorable for words. Also, Ms Riley does an excellent job here in making him stay in character despite his tendency to make wisecracks. Some authors have a hard time writing a convincing sarcastic tough guy character, especially in gay romances, without making that tough guy come off like a brittle thirteen-year old girl, but Ms Riley seems to have the whole thing down pat.
However, I should warn you that Adam also has sexual contact with other men in this story, so if you are expecting a romance with more conventional notions of fidelity, this one is not going to cut it. As far as Adam is concerned, (a) he's not a nice guy and (b) Peter is a good friend and the sex is just icing on the cake. I personally have no issue with this since, to me, this is more of a gay urban fantasy story rather than a romance, but I do get tired after a while of Peter behaving like a doormat where Adam is concerned. He allows Adam to take him for granted really dreadfully, and Adam knows it. I don't blame Adam for enjoying what is given for free, but I do wish that Peter would get a spine and stop covering Adam's rear end for him. If Adam has issues, Peter has his own share of those as well.
Immortality Is The Suck is an entertaining, often amusing, dark fantasy romp with inappropriate humor and wry sardony. I love reading this one, although I confess that I eventually tire of Adam and Peter's relationship and I wish Peter would just dump Adam and move on to someone else. By that point, Adam is far more interesting when he's with anyone else but Peter. However, I don't think this story will work as well as I am to judge this one by the rules and conventions of the romance genre. Therefore, I am giving this one my guarded recommendation instead of a whole-hearted one. Immortality Is The Suck is fun in my opinion, but you will have to adjust your expectations accordingly before reading this one.
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