Another vampire novel? Yep, another one. Vampire novels seem to have taken over the bookstore and ebookstore shelves. Try telling someone that you are reading a fantasy novel about vampires. You may be shocked by their reaction, or you may be that person, the one looking down on me for reading “yet another vampire novel”. Well, here are the ins and outs of this particular debut novel by Kit Iwasaki.
Vampire General opens with a steamy scene in which Aline, resident doctor and human being, is in a supply closet with her boyfriend, also a resident and human being. The cliched scene is quickly interrupted by pagers sounding, alerting Aline and Tim to an incoming emergency.
As they rush to the Emergency Room, Tim gets a critical patient who eventually codes while Aline gets stuck with a patient who is capable of walking himself in. Aline's patient, Dr. Rocque, is insistent that he be able to see his patient, Clive. Clive is, of course, Tim's patient.
Aline is reluctant to grant Rocque's request, but eventually gives in to Rocque's charm. In her attempt to help Rocque, Aline succeeds in stopping Clive's heart while Tim and another doctor watch. After the stunt of killing a patient, Aline is dismissed by this hospital, and Tim, for good.
Depressed, Aline heads home only to become more depressed with the lack of comfort food available in her apartment. Her self wallowing is cut short by Rocque knocking on her door in the middle of the night.
Aline finds herself following Rocque to a hospital unknown to her in a questionable part of town. Before entering the hospital, Rocque has one condition that Aline must abide by: she must keep her mouth shut.
When Aline walks through the doors of the hospital, she is horror struck. She steps off of the street and into a world that she never imagined could exist. There were things in this hospital that didn't exist in Aline's worst nightmares. She not only has to treat patients that could harm or kill her, she has to work with those who are far scarier. From vampires to mermaids, Aline finds herself fighting for her patients' lives, fighting for her right to treat her patients, and could find herself fighting for her own life if anyone were to find out that she is human and not the vampire that Rocque has claimed that she is.
Vampire General is a new twist on Vampire culture that I haven't seen in the past. I've seen variations of vampires as doctors with human patients or supernatural patients, but this was a first for me. What makes this twist so desirable to the reader is that the doctor herself has no idea what she is walking into and has her assumptions of the entire world thrown out the window all in the course of a few moments.
This novel seemed to read like a single episode of a television drama. I often find myself wishing that my favorite television show was a novel instead of an hour long show. Books are far better at expanding on ideas and scenes and one episode would be plenty of material for a well written book. The book followed a simple story line of a girl who lost her job, got a new one, and had to overcome problems in the her new workplace. Granted, her workplace problems were far greater than her coworkers not liking her or a treacherous commute. The story, however, lacked a subplot. Yes, there was lust and sexual tension, but it never went anywhere. There was no scandal, no deceit. Aline was able to keep herself in check despite the impossible pull of vampire pheromones.
I found it odd that the author never discussed vampire diets. Aline, who is pretending to be a vampire, sits down the the hospital cafeteria, orders a salad and proceeds to eat it without anyone questioning her. I know vampires live only in the fantasy world, but I found it odd to think of a vampire, even someone pretending to be a vampire, eating a salad. I found it even weirder that no one in the book questioned her “diet”. It seems like a loose end that the author could easily clear up for the reader.
As a reader, I found myself wanting to yell at the book, “Okay, I get it already!” The author had the ability to give a great description and lead the reader to a conclusion, but then also spelled out what the reader had already understood. An example of this is the last sentence of a character description. The book reads, 'On his left hand was a thick, heavy golden ring; Kessler was married.' The point of the ring description is to show that Kessler is married.
I have to admit, the cliff hanger ending has me awaiting the publication of future Vampire General novels. I have confirmed with the publisher, and author, that there will be more in this series coming out soon. Aline was a likeable character, and I see her becoming stronger and holding her own at Grace General Hospital, even after the transhumans discover that she isn't one of them. My biggest question is, when does she become a vampire?