I had heard about this book about the time I heard that legendary screenwriter Brian Helgeland (look it up if the name is unknown to you) was writing the adaptation to it. I was intrigued, but I didn't rush right out and read it. I think I first heard about the adaptation back in 2004, so that tells you a lot.
Recently, I saw the movie and was impressed by the quality of the story and found it interesting, so I bought it on Kindle and finally read it.
I had prepared myself for this book because over the last 9 years since it was released, a lot of people have said much about the quality of the writing and how contrived and poor it was, almost disabling the ideas and the world created by Shan. In his defense, a lot has also been said to the positive about his writing ability in all the subsequent books that followed, even as the storyline seemed to wane.
Obviously, this is a very early work that probably would've been made into a masterpiece had it been reworked a few times and developed. The story is strong though and very lucid even if the writing drags it down.
To the point, there is an excessive use of exclamation marks for one. The characters, especially Darren, come across as shallow and underdeveloped, while the other characters around him are much better and fleshed out in greater detail. It's really hard getting a peg on Shan as he reads like a 'tabula rasa' -- don't worry, I hate when other reviewers use that word to describe a main character as well. The dialogue sounds the same regardless of who's speaking it, and some of the ideas are: "Oh, yeah ... and then ..." which is incredibly disconcerting.
I had no problem with Shan using his own name and I didn't translate it as something the author was doing to boost his ego or because of low-self-esteem. I think that notion is just beyond absurd. Why not write a nouveau-style Vampire memoir? In 2001, it seemed more plausible and was really ahead of the curve. I can't fault the guy for that at all.
The story is strong enough to hook me and I'll read the next three books with an open mind, because I'm willing to give the writer a pass "if" the writing develops. From what I've read, it has and so I have high hopes.
Here's to another film adaptation in the future.