Product by Ian McCain
At the beginning of the novel, Product, by Ian McCain, Ernie Chase is a decrepit and decaying man whose alcoholism has led him to a dilapidated life on the streets, where his thoughts wonder in vague directions as he stumbles from place to place. His only ray of hope remains in the fact that his daughter Marie still cares for him, even though he continues to linger on in life without contacting her much. He knows she loves him, but he is embarrassed of the current state his life is in. That state changes even further when Ernie witnesses a drug deal in a dark back alley and is shot, causing him to lose consciousness. When he wakes up, he is healthy, sober, and looks half his age. Confused about what has happened, Ernie is informed that he has been infected with a virus that requires him to intake human blood to stay alive. In order to gain access to this blood supply, Ernie makes a deal to serve his captor, but this causes him to end up in a dangerous situation, as others who are infected start to descend upon the streets of New York City, looking for their next fix.
Product succeeds because McCain has created a universe where vampires exist as more realistic beings. They are not the mythical blood sucking pale ghosts as so often described in literature, but instead they are presented as infected souls who have to take in amounts of human blood to stay alive. This novel focuses on Ernie and what he undergoes for most of the narrative, as he changes from a homeless drunk to an infected mercenary of the streets, but it also develops a lot of other strong characters, and includes background information from the past, which is very helpful in accentuating the tale further. The imagery is dark and the words used paint graphic images within the readers mind, but it all fits together coherently in the world that McCain has created. This is not just another vampire book, instead it is a refreshing take on a genre that has been so frequently misused in recent times.
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