Anoxic Zone is a fast paced original take on the vampire legend. The premise is unique - vampires are bred by the Megacorp Company and used for deepwater diving because they can recover from the bends and other injuries, require little care, and can be employed indefinitely. The story is a coming to self or rebirth story for hero Jake that ends with a battle between good and evil in an interesting way.
Jake finds himself becoming a "true" vampire due to an accident in which he saves the coffin of Vlad Tepes, the original source of the blood used to create vampire workers, when the airplane he is on goes down in the ocean. Jake's discovery nets him personal damage from the evil boss who has taken over. Luckily for Jake, his best buddy, scientist Johnny is there to bail him out. But they both have to run for their lives from Megacorp.
Jake's struggle against becoming a "true" vampire, one that feeds on humans is a moral battle for him that takes him to Romania after nearly starving, being exiled and finally forced to take a life and take on Vlad Tepes' blood. The connection with Vlad Tepes provides the major plot conflict for Jake and Johnny. The two have access to Vlad Tepe's estate, money, and toys, but they have to face a really sick man that can't stop his desire for vengeance against those that betray him in an awful way, impaling people alive. The emotional depth displayed by Jake is very manly and a bit distant, but the changes in his life circumstances are very well orchestrated - each choice leads him further into trouble and into becoming someone new.
The underwater scenes provide a lot of interest in how scrap and old relics are recovered and feature some unique twists on underwater battles. The Romanian scenes and the connection to the University where Jake meets a former victim who also is the main expert for the ancient language used by Vlad in his journals. The supporting cast act as friends for Jake and help him create a world better than he originally had. Karuna actually gets her hidden desire while Johnny mostly goes along for the wild ride on helicopters, sailboats, underwater subs and up cliffs. Mouse, a minor character in the form of captain of the salvage ship is an interesting foil for the events beneath the sea.
What I liked about this tale was the quick read, imaginative plot elements, and different perspective on vampires that focuses on their advantages as well as their internal battle and a lighter focus on the romantic lust aspects. I would give it an 8 out of 10 stars because it the emotional aspects aren't as developed as one may want and Megacorp turned out to be wimpier than Vlad Tepes.