I’m walking through Chapters one day with a very dear friend of mine, who just happens to not only share my love of books and reading, but also shares my love of young adult fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and the like. Great girl, she is. We’re browsing through the stacks and she points out this book to me: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. I’m very open minded when it comes to books, but when I saw this one, I had to admit, I was taken aback. Especially since next to it on the shelf were several copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I felt a bit like I had entered the Twilight Zone. She assured me though, that it was awesome, so trusting her as always, I purchased it.
It sat on my shelf for a while. I wanted to read it. It held appeal, for three reasons mostly – the sheer oddness of the title, the fact that it had vampires in it, and that Karen had recommended it to me. But I never picked it up.
Then we went to see the Hunger Games. And there was a trailer for the movie that was being released for this book in June. Karen got quite excited about it, and from looking at the trailer, I thought to myself: I want to see this movie. Well, as I always read the book before seeing the movie, I knew I’d better get cracking, especially if I wanted to see it with her.
This book is kind of a story within a story. It is told by a narrator, whose story you get a brief explanation of at the beginning. Without giving away too much, he happens upon several diaries that were written by none other than Abraham Lincoln. He is commissioned to write the story of Lincoln’s life, as told through these diaries, not the ones in the history books. The two are similar, and the main events are true, and obviously Lincoln’s public and political life were documented, but the true motivation behind all of Lincoln’s actions, policies, and drive to abolish slavery were not what you may think. Actually, it was all about the vampires.
Starting from when he was a young boy, when a vampire took the life of his beloved mother, Abe vowed that he would do whatever he could to rid the earth of as many of these creatures as possible. This quest shaped his whole life.
To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Abraham Lincoln, aside from the basics. This book gave me a good insight, and I often found myself turning to Wikipedia and Google to verify facts and try to figure out what was real and what was fiction. Whenever I thought of Lincoln before, all I could see in my head was the Abe from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. A far cry from the man presented in the pages of this book – a towering, limber, fast, strong individual who could cut the head off a vampire with relative ease.
I liked this book, but for once, I think I might like the movie better. I can see how this book will lend itself to a movie in such a way that it may be portrayed better on screen. If you’re into that type of thing (if there is that type of thing) I recommend it. It will make you look at this historical figure in a different light, and perhaps learn a few things about him as I did, by reading past the fiction and about the actual events of his life.