book review

A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan

alivingnightmareOh no, another unpopular opinion.

Synopsis: Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human/half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers– Mr. Crepsley– is a vampire!

Steve remains after the show finishes to confront the vampire– but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.

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The Cirque Du Freak series seems to be pretty popular, but I didn’t know about this series until the movie (which I didn’t see) came out, and the three-volume omnibus was for sale at a local used book store. I’ve had the bind up sitting on shelves for many years and finally decided it was time to read it.

I was pretty bored throughout most of the book. I kept telling myself to push through, since the book is less than 300 pages. Sadly, the best part was the end! And even then, I didn’t much care for it.

I believe Darren and his friends were supposed to be in their teens? But to me they felt like 8-10 year old children, and they had little to no personalities. When it came to animals, Darren felt like a sociopath to me.

I feel really weird about this, because it has all the things I usually like in a book, but the writing totally killed it for me.

A brief summary of the entire book (with spoilers): Darren and his friend Steve go to the freak show where Steve recognizes one of the performers from an old book about vampires. Darren steals Mr. Crepsly’s spider, and when showing it to Steve one day, Steve is bitten and hospitalized. Mr. Crepsly wants Darren to be his assistant, so he turns him into a half-vampire so Darren has to fake his death (was Darren not embalmed because he’s Jewish? Why was that plothole there?). Mr. Crepsly digs Darren up after his burial, and Steve ends up wanting to kill Darren because he wanted to be a vampire and Mr. Crepsly’s assistant.

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