Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, Red Dice
Note: This review is a combination of my reviews for the first three books in "The Last Vampire" series, the books contained in "Thirst No. 1." ===The Last Vampire #1, by Christopher PikeWith the recent popularity of young adult series such as Twilight, Vampire Academy, and The House of Night, some older vampire series are being republished. One such series is The Last Vampire, by Christopher Pike, first published in 1994. "The Last Vampire" kicks off a six book series about Sita, who is the last vampire left on earth. Reborn more than five thousand years ago, she has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, content to observe events and live history. Always careful to conceal the truth of what she is, everything's about to change for her when the original vampire, Yaksha, comes calling. Pike writes an entertaining story, creating a character that is intriguing. Sita smashes most of the myths of vampires - she can tolerate sunlight, cross running water, can't command packs of wolves, etc. She is incredibly beautiful, intelligent, strong, and wealthy. Pike has Sita tell us many of these things though, showing most character development through narration and not action. Sita is pretty much an unstoppable force, powerful in just about every way...her only faults are impatience and underestimation. The action in "The Last Vampire" is fast-paced and constantly moving. Pike weaves chapters of Sita's modern life with snapshots from her past, including information on how his vampires came about. Sita hails from ancient India, from 3000 B.C., and Pike has a new twist on the vampire myth."The Last Vampire" is a quick read, one that will keep you turning the pages until you're finished. The length, fortunately, won't keep you up all night. Sita is an interesting character who may seem a little too much like Superwoman, but hey, she is a vampire after all and Pike doesn't pull punches when making her powerful. The writing is straightforward, with some witty sentences that will stick in your mind. The characterization is also spot on - Sita was changed in her twenties, and sometimes she's very mercurial in her emotions, but she also has the wisdom of her five thousand years. I'm happy to see this series available again, it was one of my favorites when I was younger. Pike's Sita is one of the first vampires I can really remember reading about, and for a few years she really kept my attention; I reread the series, especially this first book, often as a teen. So it's nice to be able to buy it and add it to my bookshelves. 4/5.===The Last Vampire #2: Black Blood, by Christopher Pike"Black Blood" picks up six weeks after the events of "The Last Vampire." Weakened by a stake wound to her chest, Sita has spent the time recuperating. She and Ray, whom she changed into a vampire to save his life, are together. Sita believes Ray is her husband reincarnated, her true love brought back to her after five thousand years. But their bliss is about to be interrupted, when she suspects that there is another vampire embarking on a murderous rampage in Los Angeles. Sita and Ray imagine themselves the last vampires, after the death of Sita's creator, Yaksha. But if they are, who are the killers in L.A.? Sita heads into the city to investigate, quickly running into the worst nightmare she could imagine in all her long years...a psychotic vampire. In contrast to the typical stereotype, Sita is the powerhouse and Ray is her wimpy backup. He's somewhat whiny and not very thrilled about being a vampire (he won't drink blood for example), while Sita is as ruthless or as loving as the situation dictates. She lives very in the moment, doing what she believes is necessary to protect humanity. I find that you can read these books on two levels. One for young adults - it's simply a damn good vampire story. Two for adults - as I reread these books, about a decade after I first read them, the threads and themes that Pike writes about astonish me. He covers loneliness, disease, religion, and more, in an intriguing way. I greatly enjoy his merging of the vampire "story" with Krishna and Hinduism. Sita even gets some of her tactics from parables and dreams. As with the first book in the series, the action in "Black Blood" is very fast, I think the entire novel covers a period of less than a week. It fits in a way though; Sita's so powerful it's hard to believe it would take her less than a week to defeat the other vampire. The writing matches the action - straightforward and quick, sometimes leaving you wanting more. 3/5. ===The Last Vampire #3: Red Dice, by Christopher PikeAt the start of this book, Sita wakes up next to Joel, an F.B.I. agent she was forced to change to save his life. In doing so, she broke the vow she made to Krishna more than five thousand years ago, and she wonders if doing so has damned her. The action starts off just a little too fast in "Red Dice." In the previous book, "Black Blood," Sita had been on the track of a psychotic vampire who left a bloodbath in the streets of Los Angeles. His actions attracted quite a large following of police and F.B.I. agents. Joel had been caught in the crossfire of events. The two wake up in the vampire's house, a day after the events of "Black Blood." They are immediately captured by the government, thus launching Sita on an incredible chase through the streets and skies of L.A. in an attempt to escape. The chase was just too unbelievable to me, and that feeling bled into the rest of the book. Although Sita tries her best, she is unable to save Joel from capture. He is trucked away to a secret facility outside of Las Vegas, a base loaded with nuclear weapons. Fearing what experiments could reveal into the secrets of vampire blood, Sita knows she must rescue Joel before the scientists can get their needles into him. As I wrote above, "Red Dice" started off feeling too unbelievable for me. Yes, I know this is fiction, and vampire fiction at that, but when the book starts off with the first 40 or 50 pages setting an unrealistic tone, it stays in my mind; and the book ends the same way. So for the rest of the book the action felt too quick, too rushed, too contrived. The timeline of this book feels very speedy as well. Even the addition of some interesting alchemy concepts doesn't help much. This is one of the weaker books in the series in my opinion. 2/5.