Nightlife by Rob Thurman
Review by David Stoit
‘There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve know that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known that I was one… Well, half of one anyway.’ Cal Leandros is 19. He eats junk food, he doesn’t clean up after himself and fights with his half brother Niko. It’s a fairly normal life, but for the fact that Cal and Niko are constantly on the run. Cal’s father has been after him for the last four years. And given that he’s a monster whose dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares they really don’t want him and his entire otherworldly race catching up with them. But Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him – he is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. Meanwhile the bright lights of the Big Apple shine on, oblivious to the fact that the fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal and Niko’s lives…
This review is no spoiler, but I am going to give a kind of ’overview’ of my thoughts. In other words, I am going to explain why you must read this book.
This is a contemporary/urban fantasy story about two brothers and their struggle to survive unimaginable odds. Honestly, most of the contemporary fantasy I’ve read isn’t recommendable. Overall, I do not like the genre, it has been flooded and writers have used too many fake-vampires, too much sadly written romance, nagging, inaction and way too much sissy characters. I like strong characters, there are enough weak individuals in real life so I don’t need a book for that, but in fantasy I like to read about people I would like to talk to or look up to. Realism is another thing underestimated in fantasy – even though it is all about the ‘imagination’ a lack of a certain ‘I-can-dig-that’ feeling makes me throw a book away.
However, Thurman manages to create a series of highly unlikely individuals yet allows them to come across as so realistic that I had that ‘get-to-know-them’ feeling. Another thing I found refreshing is that she used brutal werewolves and vampires. Real predators, instead of the flood of crap that is out there these days.
Caliban, or Cal, is a hybrid between a human mother and an Auphe father (a demon kind of race, the original Elves). Luckily that is where the cliché ends. Cal is sarcastic, foul-mouthed, lazy and has all the emotional baggage one can expect of a shunned and feared young man that has had it all against him and has been forever on the run. His brother Niko is a massively talented young man, he follows a kind of Buddhist-lifestyle while simultaneously training to be a master in numerous fighting disciplines. Next to that he’s a kind of single parent to his little brother, the lazy half demon. The great thing however is that even though the fellow is one amazingly unrealistic superhuman Thurman skilfully manages to give his character credibility.
This story worked for me because Cal and his brother Niko go through hell. They are spared nothing and have almost everything against them while still fighting on. There is a perfect balance between the chapters plus rapid action, fast paced sword-gun fights, humour, emotion and romance. This is a story that grasps you and compels you to read on late into the night.
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