International Writers Magazine: Review
Last Vampire, Books 3 & 4: Red Dice & Phantom
By Christopher Pike
Published by Hodder Childrens Books
ISBN-13: 978 0 340 95041 8
The Last Vampire is a series of books charting the adventures
of Sita, a kick-ass five thousand year old vampire with an attitude.
This is a high octane, gripping novel
Red Dice and Phantom
are books three and four in a set of six. These instalments follow Sita,
no longer the last remaining vampire, as she tries to save her vampire
childe and stop the government from using their vampire DNA to create
a new race of genetically enhanced people. Even though these books are
part of a series, they also work as stand-alone stories. Enough detail
is explained to understand the plot but some more background information
about the secondary characters would have been helpful.
These books cause a slight problem for me. The fight sequences are awesome
and could rival The Matrix in their actions but they are extremely
violent, with graphic details of the dead bodies Sita leaves behind
her. There are also blatant references to the sexuality and eroticism
that lies behind the exchanging of blood between the vampires and the
way in which Sita uses sex to control men. As a nineteen-year-old man
I love this; it fuels my imagination and makes my heart beat a little
bit faster. But is it really suitable for a young teenager? These are
definitely adult themes and if this book was turned into a film it would
most definitely be rated an 18 (and I would be the first
in line at the cinema to watch it) but Im not sure if this is
entirely appropriate for its target audience.
However, unlike the themes in this book, the writing is perfect for
young teenagers. It is not patronising in any way and it addresses important,
contemporary issues without preaching. Covering subjects such as religion
and cloning, it allows the readers to make up their own minds, forming
their own opinions, even about Sita herself. Christopher Pike has created
a frank, honest, well-developed character that has a detailed back-story
(5000 years of it!) and, despite being so extraordinary, is incredibly
Sita accomplishes some tremendous, awe-inspiring feats of power and
yet her actions are often despicable, feeling no remorse for the death
and destruction she leaves in her wake. And yet you are never forced
to like her. While you will be unable to put this book down, Sita is
definitely a character that you could love to hate.
My only fault with this book is that it is often a little convenient.
Instead of properly dealing with dilemmas that would normally make a
writer stop and think, Pike relies a little too heavily on Sita. When
Sita needs to fly somewhere, she suddenly reveals that she can fly helicopters.
As a reader, I would prefer to see how an immortal five thousand year
old vampire deals with these types of situations rather than feel as
though the author has taken the easy way out.
Despite a couple of minor flaws, and perhaps a slight audience adjustment,
this is a high octane, gripping novel. It is pure excitement, not cluttered
with over-explained morals or ethics. The messages are there if the
reader wants to see them, or they can choose instead to be marvelled
by the fast-paced action and the witty dialogue. After a slow beginning,
and some convenient solutions, the story becomes thrilling, tense and
highly unpredictable, full of twists and turns. This is definitely the
cure to the sweetness of Harry Potter and, if you stick with it and
think you can handle it, I would certainly recommend it.
© Chris Burden March 2008
Watch out for Books 6 & 7 Evil Thirst and Creatures
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