He can't remember what happy feels like. He has been a bum for a while now, living on the streets,
getting booze however he can. Ernie is dying, slowly. But he knows this. His lifestyle choices are slowly killing him. He has lost several of his teeth and has a cough that he knows is a very bad sign. His clothes are filthy. But he won't go stay at a shelter, not even for his daughter, Marie, the only thing in the world he still has. He doesn't want her to see him like this. However, she still looks for him.
One night Ernie witnesses something he shouldn't have while in his cardboard box of a home down an alley. Some men in a nice vehicle come down the alley and start loading silver cases into their vehicle. Some gang members try to rob them of their product and ride by shooting the men. The only problem? They didn't kill them. The men get up as if they were never shot and take down the others. But not before one of them has fatally shot Ernie. While he is out, he is taken to a facility of sorts. When he wakes up he realizes that he feels much different. Maybe he's dead. But when he figures out he is restrained in a bed and has all his body parts, nope, he isn't dead. And the real kicker? Gideon, the man in charge, tells him he has been infected and will start wanting to drink human blood.
This was a great and very fresh book! It kind of has that Men in Black feel mixed with the Gangs of New York and Interview With a Vampire mixed all in one. You've got your gangs defending and taking turf and lives, vampires staking out the city and trying not to kill people, and that whole surreal thing about going out and getting recruits to be blood donors while you live for who knows how long in this youthful body that won't seem to die.
If Ernie doesn't keep his thirst under control, a demon is set loose. He literally changes into this demonic creature and from what we see so far in the book, you don't change back. But coping with this new body is harder than it seems. While it seems like the greatest deal ever to be able to grow back teeth and body parts you lose, needing human blood is definitely a downfall. And because Ernie wanted to live, he has also made a deal to serve Gideon for the rest of his life, however long that may be. It is interesting to watch Ernie struggle a little with wondering whether what they are doing is right. They go out and get gang members, bad people, and use them to farm blood basically. Although it seems done in a humane way, Ernie still wonders if this is right. And while you wonder if Gideon is a bad person or not, what you don't know is that there could be a worse person out there. A lot has yet to be seen in this book. But I have a feeling the next book, Byproduct, is going to be a real kicker and I can't wait to see what type of destruction and mayhem is in store! Because it's sure to be there!
*image via Ian McCain
*quote via Ian McCain