Once upon a time there was a woman who managed to write a book series that both became wildly popular and incredibly hated. This book series created a massive teenage girl fan base, spawned five major motion pictures and enough quasi-gothic merchandise to keep Hot Topic well supplied for years. As with any major success, in her tracks marched a long line of wannabe writers who tried to capture the same idea of the book series, so much so that Barnes and Noble has an entire book section devoted to Teen Paranormal Romance. Those who were not fans of the series had to become cold and jaded to new vampire fiction coming out, suspicious that the stories may have the creatures falling in love while sparkling. A new hope has risen, however, in John Steiner’s new vampire thriller, “Squad V.”
“Squad V” is an interesting mix of Tom Clancy and Anne Rice, bringing the vampire back into the category of dangerous predator. The story follows Quincy Barnes, a CIA agent recruited into a top secret government program designed to hunt and destroy vampires. Along the way he not only gets embroiled in the conspiracy, but becomes the target of a deadly and powerful vampire group out to destroy him and his squad. On the opposite end of the law stands Vance, a cowboy-turned-vampire back when cowboys were the norm, who’s having a cross country adventure with a girl by his side and the law at his back.
The story’s unique dichotomy of one half espionage drama and one half supernatural thriller blend together seamlessly where most books would fail. There are plenty of both to keep fans of either side happy. Quincy’s squad is a band of career military soldiers armed with the highest tech equipment to battle the creatures of the night, while the vampires are classic without being cliché. Made with more of a scientific bend as to where they get their supernatural powers, the vampires feel plausible, and rather than taking from the same vampiric stock of Eastern Europeans growing up in castles, it’s refreshing to see American born vampires as actual characters rather than thugs with fangs.
Not only is this a good piece of work for a beginning author, but Steiner also has ties to Salt Lake Community College. Anyone who’s ever gone to the Taylorsville Redwood Campus Learning Center for math tutoring has probably received help from the blonde beanstalk of a man. The book shows how detailed oriented he is as well as a clever and creative writer. It promises to be the first of a series, which is definitely a plus since the only thing the story really needs is more of it. Check it out if it’s your thing, and let it rekindle your love of the undead.