Generation V, by M L Brennan

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Publication date – May 7, 2013

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Reality Bites.

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him…

Thoughts: My initial impression of this book, when I had read only the summary and hadn’t actually opened the book to read even the first page, was that it sounded good but that the whole “sexy and dangerous shapeshifter” thing was a real eye-roller. Of course she’s a sexy shapeshifter. Can’t have a female character get in the thick of things without being drop-dead gorgeous, and you just know that she’s going to play the romantic interest to the leading vampire man. Cheesy, probably heavy on the romance, exactly the way I don’t like my urban fantasy. I figured it might be good but nothing I’d really go out of my way to read.

Then a chance brief conversation with the author convinced me to give the book a try after all.

And was I ever glad that I did! From beginning to end, Generation V was entertaining, insightful, funny, and filled with enough bloody action to please even those jaded readers like myself who often find that “urban fantasy” is just synonymous with “paranormal romance.” I was incredibly impressed by Brennan’s first foray into full-length urban fantasy, and it left me hungry for more.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Fortitude “Fort” Scott, a young vampire with a useless degree who pays his bills (barely) by working at a local coffee shop. He doesn’t get along very well with his family, vampires considerably older and more powerful than him. He has problems with his roommate, who hasn’t paid the rent in months, and with his girlfriend, who decided it would be a good idea to sleep with said roommate. He is, with the exception of the vampire issue, a regular guy, not so dissimilar from many people who will be reading about him. He’s not superpowered, he doesn’t know amazing battle tactics, he has no magical abilities, and his sheer normalcy sets him apart from a good deal of UF protagonists I’ve encountered.

But when a European vampire steps foot in his mother’s territory, and when the murders start happening, Fort finds himself thrown together with Suzume, the aforementioned kitsune shapeshifter, and the two start on a deadly quest to save a little girl from her supernatural kidnapper.

Let me take a moment to talk about Suzume, and why I really like her in spite of my initial reservations. For one thing, he interactions with Fort are hilarious. She’s very much in control of herself, aware and confident and not afraid to use everything at her disposal to get what she wants, and that includes throwing people off guard with sheer sexuality if need be. Or if the situation calls for diplomacy, or submission, or just plain old punching stuff, she’s ready and willing to do that too. She’s spectacularly competent at what she does. She is not, however, someone who will just throw her life or herself away for somebody else, someone who changes to suit some sort of romantic subplot (which was pleasantly downplayed in this novel, romance taking not so much a back seat as being put in the trunk of Fort’s Fiesta because it really isn’t warranted or appropriate for most of the book). She’s self-serving, but loyal to those she considers worth it. She’s not the kind of character I expected to like, but when it came right down to it, she’s a character I ended up loving.

Brennan plays with vampire mythology in interesting ways, taking some things from Dracula, other bits from more modern vampire lore, and giving it all a new and interesting twist that left the whole thing feels original and very well thought out. She does the same thing with Japanese kitsune lore, elves, witches, and many classic roles in supernatural fiction, giving us limited glances into a much larger mythos than the book has time to delve fully into.

I finished Generation V with the overwhelming sense that I judged this book too harshly before I gave it a chance, and regret that I took so long to actually read it. I pitched it to a friend by saying, “When you read this, you’ll like it;” not “if you read it,” but “when.” It was mature and fascinating story with interesting characters, the whole thing keeping you on your toes even if it does get a tad predictable at times. Fans of urban fantasy should be reading this. And more to the point, those who feel as jaded as I usually do about the genre should be reading it too, because it will flip your expectations upside down and leave you wanting more. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel, Iron Night, and I have high expectations for it after the impression that Generation V made.

(Received for review from the author.)

8 comments on “Generation V, by M L Brennan

  1. The whole presentation, from cover to blurb , is eye rolling. But damn if I don’t see review after review come in positive, plus the author is a hoot. So I ill be reading this one very soon myself.

    • It really is worth it. I figured, after I started hearing good reviews and talked to the author a bit, that I would end up liking it after all, but I really didn’t expect to like it as a much as I do! Can’t wait to see your review, when you do read it.

  2. Yes yes yes dive into Iron Night, it just gets better and better! I can’t wait for book 3 which is still slated to come out in November, I did a happy dance when I found out we may be getting a double dose of Fort in 2014 :D

  3. You know I passed on this one for a while as well. Thinking just another UF that is only about the sexy. But a few friends convinced me otherwise. I do have it here, but need to get to reading it. Glad to hear the same from you as well.

    • I’m really glad I gave this one a chance in the end. I know it’s cheesy to drag out the whole “don’t just a book by its cover” line (or in this case, judging a book by its genre), but yeah, I think it applies here. :p

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