Friday, January 20, 2012

REVIEW: Being Human by Patricia Lynne

Being Human Being Human by Patricia Lynne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Spoilers

A fifteen-years old boy wakes up and finds himself as a vampire in Being Human. With a strong survival instinct that is quickly extinguishing memories of his human life, Tommy rushes to sake his blood thirst, murdering his family in the process. Only one family member survives — his twin brother Danny.

Told in 1st POV from Tommy’s side, Being Human (BH) divides its plot into five parts, chapters nonexistent, and spans across (by my guesstimate) 30-40 years. The story is a character-driven piece, and there were times when I thought “this is not a story; this is a situation.” The prose was surreal, which slightly jarred the beginning of my reading. In other words, reading BH felt like reading about a dream. Nevertheless, I managed to conform to BH and my reading experience was relatively smooth, meaning there were few moments of skimming. Upside, BH was flawlessly edited and formatted, taking into account that this book is self-pub.

The story is set in the near future where vampires are real and outed and humans have mini flame-throwers to fight them.

The Characters

+++ Tommy

For most of the story, I did not care for him, especially in “Part One: Brothers.” This was due to my difficulty adjusting to the prose at the start, and part one was seemingly more telling than showing — it was more introspection than I expected. Moreover, I found the matter-of-fact manner in which Tommy killed and fed upon his parents and some strangers quite disturbing. Tommy deciding not to kill Danny was not enough to make me like Tommy. And tbh, I kind of eye-rolled at the twin-bond trope, which fortunately BH never abused.

Do notice that I said “for most of the story” — emphasis on most — meaning there was moments where I did like Tommy. I like Tommy when he helped a suicidal, physically abused girl in part two. I like Tommy when he rescued Jamie from a child abuser. I chuckled when Tommy wanted to keep Jamie as a human pet. As the story progressed, moments when I sympathize with Tommy were more frequent. Nonetheless, the times when I do care about Tommy existed only in moments, here today gone the next.

One thing that did stayed with me throughout the entire story was the creep factor Tommy maintained as a vampire, the creep factor all vampires have. I could never forget Tommy was a vampire and the danger vampires presented no matter how much emotions Tommy showed. Sure, the emotions made him more human, but dude — he’s still a vampire. The story made it clear that a vampire’s survival instinct will always win.

+++ Danny

He played such a big role in part one through two, trying to keep Tommy human-like and safe as best as he could, that I was unhappy when his role was minimized as a side character in part three through five. In short, there were not enough scenes of Danny to my satisfaction. If I had to choose a character in BH as my favorite, Danny was it.

Hello, unconditional love. His twin brother is a vampire. His twin brother killed their parents. His twin brother kills people to feed. Danny put up with that and more — for instance, allowing Tommy to live with Danny’s family. I admit, I would have labeled Danny crazy just like the vampires-hating humans did were it not for Tommy and his being not a completely evil vampire.

+++ Jamie

Or Sunlight as Tommy likes to her. Ugh. I did not like her one bit. I saw nothing special about her, I was at lost to how Tommy could love her. Why her and not the other girls, like the suicidal physically-abused one he saved in part two?

All I saw was a damaged, depressed, easily pitiable girl. I was upset at how her role became more important in part three through five, supplanting Danny’s role. She replaced Danny as the character who keeps Tommy human-like. Geeze. Why is it always the outcast or damaged girl who likes vamp-boy? Can for once I read about a well-adjusted or kick-ass girl who like vampire bad boy in a YA? I despise passive heroines.

+++ Amber

Or Fallen as the nutty girl likes to call herself. Her antics and desire to become a vampire were both frustrating and funny. I was sad when she died, mostly because I wouldn’t see any more stupid craziness from her. At least her death was a realistic end to her life. I thought to myself: “This is the true story of Bella from Twilight.” LOL. However minor of a role she played, she was my second favorite character after Danny.

The World-Building

The world was relatively well built. I learned how vampires were outed. I learned how the Vampire Forces fights vampires. I learned a human is considered certifiably crazy for sympathizing with vampires. Overall, BH had a small streak of dystopia. Yet there were a couple of things that didn’t make good sense to me, specifically regarding to the nature and history of vampires.

1) I was fine with not knowing why vampires were fatally allergic to sunlight because the story said the scientists were still in the discovery process. But I was not fine with not knowing why vampires cannot cross thresholds. Why made some thresholds crossable and others non-crossable? I never know.

2) The story repeatedly said, through Tommy’s POV, that a vampire’s survival instincts will always win. That is when a vampire suffers a dire need of blood, it will attack any nearby human, even if the human is a loved one. IMO, this make vampires prone to violence. So why were there non-violent pro-vampire rights protest? Why did those vampires died pacifically when the Vampire Forces burned them to death? Vampire protesters acting like Buddhist monks? This does not compute.

3) Sex, I thought once you become a vampire you lose your sex drive. But late in the story, Tommy had the desire or at least I think he did. The story never explained in clear details about vampires and sex. I need the undead birds and bees talk pronto!

4) Fire. Vampire’s worst enemy. Actually, any creature’s worst enemy. I did not understand why fire was necessary to a kill a vampire. Cannot guns and swords do the same, or better yet, be more effective? What makes fire so special?

5) Vampires need blood to survive, we all know this. But did they necessarily have to kill people to feed? IIRC, Tommy was able to feed a few times on some people, e.g. Danny, without killing them. Why couldn't vampires feed and then hypnotize their victims into momentary amnesia? Or why couldn't vampires just rob a blood bank? Feeding without killing seems to me is the best way to survive, which would have causes a lot less vampire-hating. So why didn't any vampire do this on a habitual basis?

6) People could recognize a vampire, sans-disguise, easily. People could even recognize a vampire by their weird, unhuman-like movement. If this was so, why did it took a vampire committing suicide in public to out the vampire race? People used to believe in vampires long time ago, and then they didn’t believe in vampires anymore in the modern world, and later they believe in vampires again in the future set in BH. What happen in the time that made people stop believing in vampires? I was not satisfied in just accepting vampires were here one era, gone the next, and back again in the era of BH. The history of vampires of BH in regards to their existence was sorely lacking.

These world-building holes were not annoying in the story when I read it. Only when I started writing this review and reflecting back on BH did I noticed these holes.

The Ending

It suck. I’m pro-HEA who likes to live in La-La Land so that is not surprising. But more than that, I was wondering what was the goal of the story. I thought it was about Tommy trying to reclaim his humanity. But I never got impression he was actively doing that. For example, in part five he didn’t know a camera flash was not fire. Tommy talked to humans, but he never learned from them or how they act or think or whatever. BH spanned across decades, you think he would have learned enough to pass by as a human, even if only an eccentric one. But no. Heck, Tommy could at least crack open a psychology book in part two of BH when Danny was in college.

I wonder if the story was trying to say that vampires can never be human no matter how much they try to. Or it could just be a Tommy being an idiot thing. I don’t know.

So when Tommy escaped and relinquished his imitation of humanity, I thought “what a bummer” and “you suck at being human anyway.”

And that was it... or was it?

Later on after I finished the book, I browsed the author’s blog and learned there will be a sequel — Being Vampire, book 2 of the Being series. So the ending made more sense now as in “Oooooh, so that was supposed to be a cliffhanger.” Gotcha.


I rate BH two stars for it was okay. I did not expect BH to span decades. I would have prefer a plot where Danny and Tommy are teenagers from start to end to keep it succinctly YA. As I said, Danny was my favorite character.

Would I read the sequel? Yes.

Similar Reading

Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, #1)
= A vampire waking up and finding herself human. Same kind of writing style but less surreal. Have a stronger romantic element.

Amazon GoodReads