Generation V by M.L. Brennan introduces readers to Fortitude Scott, who has a more than a few problems: a degree in film theory that isn't getting him any work, a job he hates, he's behind in his rent, and he's a vampire. But not quite.
On top of that, there's a new vampire in town, and shortly afterward, girls vanish. Fort's family are much stronger than him, and they all think he should reconsider getting involved. Fort's partner in this is a shapeshifter by the name of Suzume (all jokes about foxes aside, she's clever, likes to have her own way, and is very mischievous). The trouble is, she's not always willing to hang around when things get tough.
For a vampire who hasn't fully matured, it's dangerous to get involved in this kind of thing, and Fort is thought of by his family to be kind of sweet, but interfering in things that he has no business sticking his nose in. Like an overly curious puppy who just has to learn the ways of the world. To his credit, Fort sticks to his moral code, and refuses to give up, simply because it seems impossible for mature vampires to empathize the way he does. In fact, no vampire has the sort of moral objections, or empathy that Fort demonstrates, a question that plagues him throughout the book. He's different than his siblings, and not only because he hasn't transitioned into a full vampire.
The book offers a few supernatural creatures that aren't seen as often in urban fantasy, such as elves, and the kitsune, but there are also witches, and some very creepy vampires and Renfields. Another interesting twist is the way that vampires have children. No, it's not pretty, but it makes for a good Silence of the Lambs homage scene or two, and is well-explained with the unique take on vampire physiology.
With this new world and different rules, Brennan has written a book that doesn't reinvent the vampire, but gives readers one who's more ordinary than not, and still figuring out who and what he is, which makes him easy to identify with.
Fort's squeamishness and tendency to be a bit of a doormat with certain people, such as his ex-girlfriend, can be a bit annoying, but it's a character point, and thankfully he does learn to stand up for himself both in his personal life, and as a vampire, with results that surprise him.
Without calling this `a story about a vampire with morals,' Generation V manages to be exactly that, and for the most part, the hero is called on his superior attitude and learns a lesson or two that may just keep him alive.
(Reviewed for A Book Obsession..)