When seventeen-year-old Brewster Wainwright, dressed as Batman, takes a spin around New York City in his Batmobile, an accident removes him from the streets and lands him in jail...
I have to be honest here for a minute; one of the main reasons I agreed to review this book was because I thought that it would be a hoot to receive a press kit. The fact that a publishing house would send me, little ‘ol RU, a press kit with a free copy of a book for the sole purpose of getting my opinion appealed to my sense of self importance. The other reason that I wanted to review this book was because of the hatred it was getting in the staff forum. I figured that this was just another case of people hating for the sake of hate, and that annoyed me. I wanted so badly to read and like this book just to show that it is possible for new things and ideas to be good, and although I still believe that we hate too much for no reason, in this case everyone else was right – this book sucked.
When seventeen-year-old Brewster Wainwright, dressed as Batman, takes a spin around New York City in his Batmobile, an accident removes him from the streets and lands him in jail. A big strapping kid with defective vision and an affinity for bats, Brewster claims he is the Bruce Wayne. As the son of a prominent citizen, officials refer Brewster to psychiatrist Dr. Korngold who must determine if he is delusional or playing some kind of elaborate-and dangerous-practical joke.
Korngold digs into Brewster's mind and his past searching for clues to the young man's comic-book crusade to save the world. But Brewster's focus changes when his girlfriend, Guinevere, is mysteriously attacked in Central Park. Brewster finds her body after she ran off during an argument. She appears to have been bitten by a bat-like creature, but before that can be confirmed, her body disappears.
Soon after Guinevere's disappearance, a woman begins haunting the Ramble at night. In addition, other people have been attacked by a vampire-like creature. Ironically, the connection between the victims seems to be the Young Artists Group, of which Brewster is a member. The authorities need to determine if Brewster is the cause or the savior.
After reading these liner notes, I was hoping for a cross between The Book of Fate, Anita Blake and Kick-Ass. The concept of a wealthy, mentally ill, teenager who thinks that he is Batman going off to hunt vampires while dealing with a psychiatrist seemed like it would be a fun ride. Instead what I got was a failed attempt to be Foucault's Pendulum meets God Emperor of Dune. Too much time in this book is spent trying to philosophize mental health, vampirism, and the meaning of the Universe / God. Even the title of the book is an overly complicated, pretentious, and ultimately meaningless in an attempt to sound more profound than it is.
The melodramatic nature of the book’s attempt at philosophy is not its biggest problem. What really upset me about this book was the writer’s apparent disrespect of his characters and readers. No attempt was made to make any character remotely likeable, and nothing more than superficial research was done into what the author called the main character’s obsession, namely, Batman. Besides the names Batman, Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon, and Bob Kane, Antonides showed no knowledge of who or what Batman is. His main character, Brewster Wainwright, is apparently so obsessed with Batman that he convinces himself that he is the orphaned son of the Waynes. He goes on to build a Batcave, Batmobile, and all the gadgets, but he never reads any other comic than Detective Comics. Let me say that again, Antonides only references Detective Comics throughout the entire novel; never Batman, Robin, Nightwing, or any other Bat related title. Furthermore, no reference is ever made to any story line or issue number. With thousands of comics to read, it seems that the author of a book about Batman never read a Batman comic. In the afterward to the novel, he readily admits that he only used Batman movies since 1989 and Bob Kane’s autobiography, Batman And Me, as his background material; there is no mention of any comic books at all.
One last note on this topic: he even used the movies wrong, giving the Bat-suit with nipples to either Keaton or Bale (a debate that occurred in the book).
Take away the philosophy and Batman problems and you are still left with a horrible book. First, we are never told when the main story takes place. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when potential victims are running away from a vampire, desperately looking for a “courtesy phone," but instead run into a police officer on a Segway, the reader suddenly realizes that no one in the book ever uses a cell phone or looks something up on the internet. Not only that, but one side character holds a "life changing" secret for most of the book which (spoiler alert) turns out to be that he is Jewish. This character is an artist living in New York City sometime after Batman Begins came out and he is worried that his friends, other artists living in New York City, will care that he is Jewish? It is no longer a question of what decade this book happens in, but what century.
I can go on to criticize the book's waste of almost 200 pages on a useless and clumsy flashback to the 1800s, the author's inability to introduce a new character without interrupting the flow of the story, or even the constant and annoying reference to law enforcement's confusion as to where the blood went after each and every vampire attack. I could go on and put you through every rant and raving I screamed at this book as I was reading it, but I won’t. There is just too much wrong with this book, and to write it all down would take as long as it took to read it. I can’t even put the full blame on Chris Antonides, considering all of the missing quotation marks and the leaps in the logic of the story itself. Whoever edited this book deserves much of the criticism as well.
Basically, don’t read this book.
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