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The International Writers Magazine: Review

The Last Vampire, Books 3 & 4: Red Dice & Phantom
By Christopher Pike
Published by Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN-13: 978 0 340 95041 8
Chris Burden
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 I’m 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 realistic.

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 of Forever

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