Book #56: Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean (2005)

vampiratesauthor: Justin Somper
length: 428 minutes
language: English
finished listening on: 2 April 2014

I downloaded a whole batch of audiobooks via the Humble Bundle recently. Unfortunately, they’re of vastly varying quality, and I had a couple of false starts, which I still haven’t finished. But this was the first one I finished, as the story was actually interesting, set in a kind of hybrid fantasy-sci fi world. It’s either young adult or children’s fiction, to be fair, so I didn’t think it was particularly high quality, but it held my interest during a long cycle ride, so I stuck with it.

The story involves two children, twins, who are separated during a storm. One ends up with a regular pirate ship, while the other ends up with the deadly vampire pirates, or vampirates. In a sense this is about as high-concept as you can get with fantasy: vampires mixed with pirates, and that makes the premise an easy sell.

Since there are two main characters, the plot switches back and forth between them like a soap opera. The girl, who ends up with the vampires, has her story unfold more slowly, as it takes her a while to twig that these strange men who keep her hidden away from the prying outside world and don’t go outside during the daytime are in fact the vampirates she heard about in her father’s nursery rhymes.

Beyond that, the book is fairly predictable, although there are some tense scenes where she has to avoid being eaten by the evil vampires (as opposed to the captain, who seems to be benevolent), but to be honest, her brother’s story is even more unmemorable in the details, but his at least introduces a host of varied and interesting characters.

The setting was mildly interesting, although only mentioned in passing: it seems to be in a postapocalyptic world 500 years in the future, where there has been a big flood, covering all the major cities. I detected a bit of an environmental theme there, although again it’s only mentioned in passing and not fully expanded on. Of course, this leads to a world in which sea travel is very common and pirates really have the opportunity to rule the waves, although it doesn’t really explain why the pirates tended to be so much like the swashbuckling stereotype of the 18th century.

It was fine, overall. I liked it enough to continue with it, and although it did drag at certain points, it wasn’t long, so it was easy enough to finish, especially since it was the spring cherry blossom season and I was going cycling a lot at the time. I don’t know if I liked it enough to continue with the series, however. Certainly not at the prices demanded by “Recorded Books”, the audiobook seller that provided it for the Humble Bundle – they seem to require an average of $60 per audiobook, far over my budget, and mystifying given that Audible sells them for an average of £15 per audiobook, without a subscription that would make it even cheaper. I’ve still got a few to try and work through from the Humble Bundle, but a lot of them are pretty atrocious, so it’s becoming difficult and I’m slowing down or becoming unenthused by the prospect. Let’s see how far I get, anyway.

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