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Have you ever thought about where you would want to be during the zombie apocalypse? Me, I would run to the nearest Target and lock myself in. I bet I could survive at least a year in there. You know where I wouldn’t want to be? Inside one of the most popular tourist destinations in Manhattan. But that nightmare scenario is exactly what Ange and Patrick Renault play out in their newest graphic novel, Vampire State Building. 

So, what actually happens?

Terry, a soldier about to leave for Afghanistan, meets up with his cousin and friend group for one last night out, starting at the top of the Empire State. While they’re on the observation deck, people on the street start turning into mindless, hive-mind vampires controlled by a “father” vampire. Turns out, the ESB was built on top of a sacred Mohawk burial ground and was the meeting point for an evil, cannibalistic sect of the tribe. Now, Terry and his friends have to fight the vampire zombies and the NYPD to escape with their lives. 

Sounds like a romp. 

You would think so. Unfortunately, this graphic novel just never lets itself have fun. The story’s tone is way too serious, but at the same time the characters are not developed at all. I literally only remember one of their names, and I read this thing last night. Most of the plot is devoted to their escape plan, which would have been so much better if I actually cared about the characters at all. To me, the ending was also very confusing and I had trouble telling some of the characters apart. 

Another thing that I really hated was the character deaths. First of all, we had no idea who the characters were as people, so I did not care at all when they died. Secondly, this graphic novel fell into the disappointing trope of killing off all the characters who weren’t white first, leaving two white people to be the last ones standing. And that’s not even going into the stereotypical Native American burial ground plotline. Seriously, it’s 2020, how are we still doing this? Move beyond these played out tropes. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. 

Was there anything good about it?

I don’t mean to sound like I hated this graphic novel from start to finish. The pacing and stakes were really compelling. I also loved some of the art, especially that at the end. There was one panel showing the Empire State Building on fire, and that was really cool to see. Also, the last few pages were a great wrap up to the story.

Final Thoughts

Vampire State Building was a very surface-level zombie/vampire story with a fun premise. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it, but you might like it if you’re looking for a standard, popcorn horror comic. 

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Book Reviews

What Have We Done: Alex Finlay Produces Another Hit

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  • Jenna: A stay at home mom with a secret assassin past
  • Donnie: An alcoholic rock star
  • Nico: An executive producer of a reality television show

They all have a past, but who is out to get them?

The Plot

Jenna, Donnie, and Nico share a troubled past. They were all orphans who lived at Savior House — which is much less savior, much more terror. When their friend Benny, a famous judge, is murdered and the FBI comes looking, Jenna, Donnie, and Nico must race against the clock to figure out who is targeting them.

The Verdict

From the author of The Night Shift, which I reviewed here, I would expect nothing less than what Finlay has delivered. Finlay notoriously creates stories with palpable thrill and spine-tingling revelations.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Jenna. She is a reformed assassin living a normal life as a new stepmom. When she is called in to make a hit and her family is threatened, she goes badass mom on ’em. While I still thought Donnie and Nico as characters were engaging, it was nothing for what I felt for Jenna.

Also, major props to Finlay for creating a character that kills with a very unique weapon. Read it to find out more!

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut

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Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.

I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.

The Plot

Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.

Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.

The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.

The Verdict

This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.

Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Buy it here!

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Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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