Set in the 1800s, this book follows Abraham Lincoln’s life. Initially, the story is told from the viewpoint of the author who stumbled upon the hidden, secret diaries of Lincoln. The story then shits to a historical retelling of Lincoln’s life, with snippets of Lincoln’s diaries added in here and there. There’s vampires, and hunting, and politics.
First, I adored Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride & Prejudice & Zombies so I was really looking forward to this book. However, this book is told in a very different manner and I have to say I didn’t like it near so well as my first Grahame-Smith book. First, the point of view shifts back and forth often, and not just the POV, but also the tone. We start off with the amiable author finding the secret hidden diaries. He uses these as a basis for writing a new history on Lincoln. The reader is then tossed into this ‘history’ with no more amiable author POV. The history is written rather dryly being mostly dates, places, events, people. But then little snippets of Lincoln’s hidden diaries are tossed in nearly every other page. These snippets are much more personable and have a very different pacing and flavor from the ‘history’. I often found myself frustrated that the author, Grahame-Smith, didn’t just pick one style or the other to the story telling for the majority of the book. The historical parts would put me to sleep and the diary parts would jolt me awake, get me hooked and then leave me sad and weeping for more.
Perhaps I should get a paper edition and cut out all the diary entries, paste them together, and read the book that way. That would probably be more satisfying.
The other thing that made me sad was that there were almost no women and what few women there were, had little to do with the story. Grahame-Smith set such a high bar with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which has several lead female characters, that I really expected something of the same here. Alas, the lack of female vampire slayers had me weeping again.
Lastly, the author over-used a dramatic ploy. You know how an author will launch you into an action sequence with all the characters you have become familiar with, then something horrible happens, and you start to think through all the consequences this has for the plot… and then the character wakes up and realizes it was a bad nightmare. I think this little ploy was used like 4 times in the book. And to make me shed a few more tears, these dream sequences were some of the best written action scenes of the entire book.
Really, I haven’t cried this much over a book (in frustration) in forever.
There were a few things I liked about the book. Since it is written like a history, we do learn quite a bit about Lincoln’s life. He did have some issues with family members that would have been scandalous today. I really liked the dark, deeply serious tone of the diary entries.
Over all, it was a real let down.
Narration: Scott Holst did a good job. He had to sound like a dried up history professor for the dry historical bits and then completely switch gears and become Lincoln for the diary entries. Since many of those entries also recorded conversations had with other folks, Holst had to come up with several male character voices with regional accents. He performed well!