Vaughn Demont's Reviews > Drawing Blood

Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
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's review
Aug 02, 2009

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It was difficult not to be reminding of my days in roleplaying games while reading Drawing Blood, both running a character and running a game. The novel takes the horror standard of the haunted house and takes it into a “modern” direction, which means there’s more angst and soul-searching than characters running for their lives. Considering the factors at work, namely that the two main characters use mild hallucinogenics constantly throughout the story, and the primary protagonist Trevor is a deeply disturbed individual, it’s difficult to say whether the horror experienced by the pair is supernatural or purely psychological. This uncertainty is part of what makes Drawing Blood work though.
However, I’m still left with questions that I really shouldn’t be asking, and nearly every question pertains to the second lead, Zach. When I would run games, I could always tell who’d seen the most recent blockbuster movie that had been out, because their character would be based wholly on one of the characters from the film, mainly because they thought that person was cool. When reading Drawing Blood I can’t help but wonder if the only reason Zach is a computer hacker is because the author had recently seen Hackers or The Matrix or any other movie or TV series featuring a “keyboard cowboy”, because I can’t understand why a computer hacker is in a haunted house.
The primary plot of the story is Trevor dealing with his demons in his old house where his father brutally murdered his mother and little brother, and then committed suicide in front of him. Nearly everything is handled by Trevor, with Zach only serving in the role of lover and drug hook-up, a role that would usually demand him dying within the first fifteen minutes of the movie so that the other characters will begin to suspect something might be wrong with this old house.
Zach’s plot on the other hand deals with him being on the run from the law and fleeing across the country to make a flight to Jamaica, but still stopping to score drugs and sex with conveniently gay store clerks in the Deep South. The story occasionally flashes to the pursuit to ratchet up the tension, but it all feels so artificial, just a means to heighten things for the reader and raise the stakes but I never found myself caring about Zach’s problems. I have to wonder why he was made a hacker when his sole purpose in the story is to relieve Trevor of his virginity and wake him up from his nightmares. How does knowledge of Linux and the High Doctrine of Slack help you in that situation? I shouldn’t be asking that question as a reader. I shouldn’t be skipping forward through Zach’s sections so I can get back to the interesting part. I should care about him considering that he’s one of the romantic leads.

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