Nasferas: The Begotten by Nate D. Burleigh

Alien refugees crash land on Earth, tear off their skins, and turn into vampires. There’s not much point in summarizing the plot because, for all of its wrangling, it amounts to little more than an escape, a kidnapping, and another escape. There are plenty of made up words, bad accents, and people running around with swords, but the details are not interesting enough to merit further discussion.

Any narrative about vampires faces an uphill climb, but several problems sabotage this novel’s hopes of standing out. Awkward pacing derails the plot’s momentum, excessive description clutters the text, a dozen characters too many infest the pages, and the dialogue reads as smoothly as a machine translation. That’s not to say these are the only problems with the book, just the worst offenders.

First, the pacing. The author spends almost half of the book getting the aliens to Earth and introducing an unwieldy cast of teenagers. The perspective regularly shifts between the two groups, dulling any intensity or momentum that either narrative manages to gather. Worst, most of that time is spent with tedious slices of life as the aliens come to terms with events and the teenagers try to bang each other. A quick prologue followed by the kids stumbling upon a crashed spaceship would have accomplished the same amount.

Besides being tedious, this slow introduction doesn’t leave enough room for the main action of the book to play out. The moment the aliens land, stretch, and encounter the teenagers, a black chopper full of soldiers shows up to cart off the vampire ladies for forced breeding. The rest of the book devolves into a mad dash as the characters do their best impressions of headless chickens. The action is rushed and amounts to nothing more than a body count and an ending which resolves nothing.

Second, we come to the excessive details the author provides:

“The bright lights illuminating the room again reminded Katelyn of tanning booth lights. She’d always been pale skinned and every summer she bought a few tanning sessions in order to gain a base so she wouldn’t burn to a crisp. And she’d hated every minute.”

The easy way to say this: the lights came back on. This paragraph occurs as Katelyn is fighting her way out of the evil lair she ended up in. Paragraphs like this are typical, each one a digression throwing off the already uneven pacing. A bevy of unnecessary metaphors and similes deal the finishing blow.

Third, the number of characters. By the time you total the teenagers, the aliens, the miscellaneous folk on Earth, and the bad guys, there are easily thirty named characters you have to keep track of. Even if each one was charming and nuanced, that’d be too many. Worse, the author’s focus wanders between them and wastes precious time that could have been used developing the ones that matter. There are multiple instances where a character’s death is presented as a tragedy, but it’s actually a relief since there’s one less name for the reader to keep track of.

Finally, we come to the dialogue. This first example comes from one of the vampire aliens:

“Because, in the open like this, I should be able to connect subconsciously with my Aunt’s thoughts. She communicated with me on the plane and said they were under attack again. Now without a link, I fear the worst.”

The second example comes from the rootinist, tootinist, Southern boy the author could write (the asterisk replacing an ‘i’ is mine, but the rest is a direct quote):

“‘Holy fluckin, mother lickin, chicken egg suckin … did you see that, Dave?’ Jimmy Boy asked excitedly. ‘I saw the grenade comin’ my way and thought. Holy sh*t-fire Jimmy boy, you in deep crapola now. The same second I looked over and seen this here manhole and dove, Dave. Head first. Like I was jumpin’ off a mother fluckin diving board at the city pool.’ He laughed. ‘Done cracked my head open, I reckon.’”

The biggest problem is that the author does not write speech patterns or accents different from his own particularly well. The teenagers fare better, but their frequent interactions with Jimmy Boy and the aliens derail most of the dialogue. It’s better to write no accent than a bad one because it risks putting off readers who know how it should sound. I’m from the South, and Jimmy Boy might as well have been an alien judging by the authenticity of his accent.

A book about vampires is a difficult sell, and nothing about his one distinguishes it from the others. Uneven pacing, excessive detail, overabundant characters, and awkward dialogue prevent it from being more than just another vampire book. I give it a 2/5.

Nab a copy from Amazon if you’d like to take a gander.