I’d heard that the movie adaptation of this book was “so-so,” which led me to believe that the book was incredible and the movie did no justice. After reading the review on this site several weeks ago, I was excited to buy the book, since my library hadn’t had the book on the shelves for weeks. I wish I’d saved my money.
My frustrations with the book are two-fold. Firstly, I never felt drawn into the book at ANY point. The book switches between 3rd-person narration and entries from Lincoln’s “secret journals,” oftentimes changing with every other paragraph. Grahame-Smith’s style, while unique, never allowed me to feel like I was experiencing the story. I felt like an observer, and I desperately wanted to feel included.
Secondly, while the vampire twist was a unique idea, Grahame-Smith’s storytelling ability was lacking. The book reads like a history lesson, and basically every hardship in Lincoln’s life (i.e. deaths in the family) was blamed on vampires. When the vampires aren’t playing a role in the book, the author seems to get lost in his research and ramble. (And when they ARE playing a role, there is a severe deficit of description). Grahame-Smith lacks the ability of many historical biographers to draw readers in to peoples’ lives—he simply recounts anything I could have Googled and adds in some vampire-killing. Indeed, he acknowledges Google and Wikipedia at the end for the “help” he had with writing his book. He doesn’t cite one historian, Lincoln biography, or primary source.
I did enjoy reading about Lincoln’s life, but was frustrated by its execution. The best takeaway from my reading was that Lincoln had a life that doesn’t require vampires for it to be incredible. It has inspired me to go read a real Lincoln biography now. I have yet to see the movie (and may only see it when it comes out on DVD), but this may be one instance where the movie may actually be better than the book.
Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jordan Gaines, SMCM Alum ’11
Rating: Not recommended
Read Samantha Schwartz’s review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.