An entertaining, occasionally funny short novel about a "real" vampire awaking today to find that modern vampires are beautiful and sexy. He is not haAn entertaining, occasionally funny short novel about a "real" vampire awaking today to find that modern vampires are beautiful and sexy. He is not happy.
The story was basically non-existent until about 40% in. I have a suspicion that that's when the author realized that a few jokes and mild humor doesn't exactly make for a book, so he went on and added a story. The story is actually not half bad, I really enjoyed it, but it only took up half of a short novel.
Overall, An Unattractive Vampire is a short, light read that is entertaining enough. Don't expect anything much more than that....more
Pact is an absurdly long (~950K words) horror/urban fantasy story, the second web serial of Wildbow, following the huge success of Worm. Pact, at leasPact is an absurdly long (~950K words) horror/urban fantasy story, the second web serial of Wildbow, following the huge success of Worm. Pact, at least for me, was much less of a success than Worm, although the writing definitely improved.
To start with the good parts, the world-building in Pact is absurdly good. It has what most fantasy books today lack: the shroud of mystery over the workings of the world. Every character in Pact only has scraps of knowledge; the more knowledge they have, in general the more powerful they are. "Knowledge is power" is a saying that comes up, implicitly or explicitly in almost any fantasy story, but it's very rarely true or very rarely feels true, because everyone is running around with perfect information (minus of course that one tidbit that'll save the world at the end). In Pact, "Knowledge is power" is very, very true, and it can be felt throughout the entire story.
The world is a complex place, often with no clear rules. It is also very unfair. Both of these tend to be glossed over or simplified in the fantasy genre, but not in Pact. This both makes the world far more interesting than it otherwise would be, and also makes the story a dark, unfair one. (view spoiler)[The protagonist, after all, was created purely to struggle, to suffer and then finally to die when it's convenient. (hide spoiler)] Pact also goes against common themes such as "angels versus demons". While both exist in Pact, they are not what you would necessarily expect.
Moving on to the worse parts of the book, the story suffers from serious repetition and pacing issues. It starts off incredibly strongly, but from the first few pages onwards, the whole story is just a gradual descent into darkness. This is a problem in the sense that after the 20th time something absolutely horrible happens and people are subjected to things you would not even want to think about, instead of tensing up, you yawn, because it's just the same old, same old.
The story does have good moments, when something more interesting or unexpected happens, but it's a lot rarer than it should be. The vast majority of the story is our characters struggling, which usually means fighting for their lives. And even with magic stuff going on, it is simply not particularly interesting after the 50th such scene.
Finally, the characters are the worst aspect of Pact. They are, simply put, utterly simplistic, one-dimensional creatures, with about as much personality as a sleepy, old dog. There is also a notable shortage of likable characters, with 1 or perhaps 2 exceptions throughout the entire 2000-something pages. Even the protagonist is just an "okay". And that is not okay. I'm not particularly emotionally invested in the struggles of any character who are utterly bland and unlikable.
There was a welcome change from Worm, in that there are some lighter moments and even humor. My favourite moment was towards the very end of the story, quote without spoilers:
"Go, Buttsack, or we all die!" "Fuck yourself with a fork!"
In that very bleak, dark scene, this is utterly hilarious and a welcome moment of respite. Unfortunately, these are few and far between.
Overall, Pact is a good story, but it has a good number of problems that are not entirely offset by how good the idea and the world-building is. Wildbow (the author) also has admitted it, and he's even refusing to recommend Pact. I would not be quite so indiscriminate: Pact can be a good story to read, but not all at once, you definitely need a few, lighter books to break up the oppressive darkness....more