The Meteth Chronicles: Killing Year Zero, by Rob Frisbee

the-meteth-chronicles-killing-year-zero-by-rob-frisbee coverGenre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Dark House Books
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: two stars
Book Review by Paul Goat Allen

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Meteth is undead, a vampire, immortal. One of six of his kind, he has walked among mankind since the beginning of time, killing tens, hundreds, thousands indiscriminately. But he doesn’t need blood to sustain himself; in fact, he needs nothing to survive. He does however at times yearn for a soul, and when he feeds, the souls of the newly dead fill that hole in his metaphysical self. When he has enough stolen souls, his own spirit returns briefly, and in those fleeting moments, he is almost human.

The plot of The Meteth Chronicles: Killing Year Zero revolves around Meteth and one of his offspring, a Cambodian child named Saloth Sar, who would grow up to be Pol Pot, the dictator whose Khmer Rouge movement overthrew the Cambodian government in 1975 and eventually killed millions of innocents. Meteth vows that his offspring is his responsibility and travels to Cambodia to somehow kill his bloodthirsty son. Once in the capital of Phnom Penh, Meteth (aka Matt Heth) meets a woman named Chanrithy who also seeks Pol Pot, for her own personal reasons. Their short journey together will lead them to the nightmarish Killing Fields as well as some very surprising revelations…

I give credit to Frisbee for the ambitiousness of this story because if it had succeeded I think it would have went a long way in redefining the whole vampire sub-genre. But in the end, the extreme moral ambiguity of Meteth was too confusing and because of that, the story never really got off the ground emotionally. At first it was if Frisbee wanted the reader to hate the character. And then within the span of a few pages, this immortal demon was heroically saving people. In the end, Meteth has a sort of apathy towards it all.

And while I understand that was one of the themes of the book — there is good and evil in everyone (“Because I felt Him, scratching and clawing to get out. I always did. As do you, every day of your lives.”) — the growth, or lack thereof, of Meteth just wasn’t believable or even very compelling. Not being emotionally invested in the story in any way, I quickly lost interest and had to force myself to finish.

Paul Goat Allen is the editor of Barnes & Noble’s Explorations science fiction/fantasy book review and is the author of Burning Sticks, Old Winding Way and Warlock Dreams.

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