Friday, June 25, 2010

Lucas Manson - Thomas Hauck

Summary: When Special Agent Mark Dylan investigates a gruesome homicide, he uncovers the terrifying world of the Kingdom Seven Family Temple and its leader, the charismatic and ruthless Minister Lucas Manson. As Dylan and his partner Jill Kelly penetrate the secret inner sanctum of the temple, they learn that friends cannot be distinguished from enemies. The vast and powerful temple holds dark secrets that will change their lives forever.

Lucas Manson asks: Do you know who you are? Do you know which side you're on? The answer may shock you. (Summary from book - Cover image and review copy courtesy of publisher)

My Review: If the author didn't feel the need to describe every detail--down to the material the elevator buttons are made of*--then this book would be… well, still pretty bad. As it is, my brain oozed from my eyeballs after ten pages.

*Bakelite, in case you're curious. You shouldn't be. It's not important. Neither was the menu of every meal eaten during the course of the novel, nor the life stories of half the walk-on characters. Perhaps the obsessive detail would be ok if it were at least inventive; instead, it's patched-together bits of every cliche in the tide pool of popular culture. Even the Evil Cult of Darkness(™) is formulaic.**

**Recipe for an Evil Cult of Darkness: Mix three parts Scientology, two parts Mormonism, and a hefty dose of born-again televangelism. Veil thinly and serve lukewarm. Oh, and make them all vampires.***

***Really, really pathetic vampires. Ok, so I'm just adding footnotes for the fun of it. Remember the bit about my brain oozing from my eyeballs? Apparently the one synapse I have left is the one that does footnotes. Forgive me.

Star Rating: 1 Star. Sensitive readers may be turned off by the hackneyed violence and embarrassingly drool-y sex, if they make it that far.

Sum it up: A book about vampires, or rather, a book that is a vampire--it will suck you dry and destroy everything that is good and pure in your life. It's really that bad.

5 comments:

MindySue said...

Oh Daniel. You poor thing. Hopefully all the good and the pure will come back soon.

kathleen8400 said...

I'm not going to slag Daniel, but ask why did Daniel choose to review "Lucas Manson?" Judging from his book list, it is nothing like what he prefers to read. "Lucas Manson" gives every appearance of being a fun, sharp, commercial horror thriller, which in fact it is. Clearly Daniel was expecting something very different, and his expectations blinded him to the book's many assets, including a wicked dose of social satire, which seems to have gone right over Daniel's head.

It reminds me of the opera critic who for some reason was sent to a Rolling Stones concert. After suffering through the concert he pronounced the music of the Stones to be nothing more than a load of awful noise. Was he wrong? Not to him. But one thing is for sure: he had no business reviewing a Rolling Stones concert.

Daniel Nighting said...

Though it doesn't show from my book list, I do read a fair bit of commercial horror, and know what to expect. Otherwise, this book wouldn't have gotten even one star.

It's fun the way three-hour lectures are fun. It's sharp the way rusty butter knives are sharp. And the social satire was so un-subtle it could give you blunt-force trauma.

But I'm glad somebody enjoyed it...

frankg12345 said...

I recently read “Lucas Manson” and I thought it was terrific. To me, the central conceit of the book relates to the way societies or groups of people identify enemies and attempt to suppress or defeat them. The world of “Lucas Manson” is populated by two hominid species: Homo sapiens (you and I, presumably) and Homo cruentus (the fictional “vampires” who are really not vampires in the familiar romantic sense, but hominid blood addicts). These two groups are implacably opposed to each other, and not without good reason; as Minister Manson (the head cruent) explains in one of the several satiric “business meetings” he holds with his “Circle of Sages,” the cruents regard us Homo sapiens as being no better than cattle ready for slaughter.

The catch is that there is virtually no way to tell the Homo sapiens hominids from the cruents. Physically, the two groups are identical. The bloodthirsty cruents can be black, white, Christian, Muslim, tall, short - anything. The guy next door could be a blood-addicted cruent and you would never know. And the scariest part of all (not to give a spoiler) is that you, dear reader, could be a cruent too. You would never know until you were “awakened.”

What does all of this mean? In America today, we live in a post-9/11 world where many politicians and right-wingers are eager to identify national “enemies,” usually of the swarthy Arab or Mexican variety. And we have seen in the past - in Nazi Germany, for example - how easy it is for one ethnic group to visually or culturally identify themselves as superior (in Nazi Germany, as Aryan) and identify others as criminal or dangerous (Jews). But “Lucas Manson” asks this: What happens when you have two hominid species that are dedicated to each others’ destruction, but you cannot tell them apart without a genetic test? Of course, like the hero Mark Dylan proposes, you could test everyone - say, by having every citizen drink some human blood to see if they became addicted. But this solution would raise impassable constitutional issues.

As the book progresses the idea is proposed by some “progressive” cruents that coexistence with Homo sapiens is possible. Minister Manson, being a dictatorial Hitler type, ruthlessly eliminates any of his followers who propose peaceful coexistence. But at the end of the book several characters are revealed who intend to pursue a “third way” of peaceful coexistence, without humans being killed for their blood and without cruents being persecuted.

What about the Kingdom Seven Family Temple? It’s just a vast scam created by Minister Manson to collect cash and victims for his growing empire. As the reviewer pointed out, the temple is indeed a synthesis of Scientology and Mormonism and a bunch of other religions and/or cults.

Personally, I found Manson’s scheme to be hugely entertaining. What better way for a vampire to gather victims for his followers? I was glad that author Hauck tackled the math involved and tried to figure out just how many victims per week the cruents needed to keep themselves alive. You don’t get that kind of information from the “Twilight” books, that’s for sure.

Does all of this sound complicated? It is, which is why I was amazed that the reviewer dismissed “Lucas Manson” as simplistic. To me it is quite the opposite - it’s very complex and funny and scary, and it’s a book that has a lot to say about our society and our values today. I give it a high recommendation.

Daniel Nighting said...

frankg12345:

First, thank you for your arguments. I'd rather have someone disagree with me, and give good reasons for their disagreement, than agree with me for no good reason.

I understand your points about the book's social commentary, and think that these ideas could be handled fruitfully in a work of fiction; I don't think that this book is that work. In theory, it's a grand idea; in practice, the social commentary and the story got in each others' way to the point where the story became pedantic and preachy, and the commentary lost its relevance by being too specifically tied to the setting.

As for figuring out just how many victims the vampires need, etc., that's something I would expect any author to do "behind the scenes"--but there are far better ways to present it to the reader than in a forced, obtuse lecture format covering the details of the calculation.

FWIW, you won't see me defending Stephanie Meyer's authorial chops, either.

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