Suffer the Children’s Children: Vampires or Zombies?

First, a warning: the whole freakin’ plot of this book is told in all the ads for it, so this is no spoiler. Still, it does discuss details that you might want to save for when you read it.

Lifetime TV Movie? No, It’s a Craig DiLouie Horror Novel About Parenting

It’s not every day that you find a writer who’s known for zombie horror, to come out with a book that reads like the script from a drippy, sentimental, tear-jerker Lifetime TV special about somebody’s kid dying of a terminal disease.

But then again maybe we should have seen that coming since Craig DiLouie is the master of building a scene and developing his characters, and these characters are centered around the parent-child bond in the face of  horror. To build those bonds and develop his characters, Mr. DiLouie found it necessary to inject a bit of Lifetime drama into the first third of the book.

What Have These Kids Become?

And yes, these kids have terminal diseases so prepare yourself for some finely-crafted, tear-jerking scenes where parents and kids you’ve come to know and love begin to face horror and full-on tragedy. It’s what the kids become that’s so horrifying…but what exactly do they become?

Something causes all the children in the world (kid being defined as someone who hasn’t reached puberty) to die, then it’s three days later they rise again.

The kids need to feed on blood to return to their normal selves but that only lasts for a short time. Therefore, they constantly need more blood to stay alive. The gist of the book is about parents doing crazy things to feed their children…how far will people go? In many parts of the world they would probably just let them die, or only give blood to the boys. But in the developed world, kids reign and parents serve them. In Suffer the Children, they serve them blood.

Does this make them vampires?

People are saying this is a vampire novel, but are the kids really vampires? Well they do need to feed on blood to return to normal, but there’s no other trapping of a vampire story here:

  • There’s no religious aspect of this story…the kids are not scared of crosses, for example. In vampire stories, there’s always some sort of spiritual thing going on, something supernatural, but not here. It’s just an animal-like search for food and ensuing feeding frenzy.
  • They don’t have powers, they’re just kids. Vampires get powers- at the very least they become very strong.
  • It doesn’t take any special effort to make these kids die. Vampire death requires lots of thought & preparation. And effort.
  • The kids don’t spread the disease…they can’t make other vampires by biting people. Vampires can choose to do this if they get tired of living century after century all alone and decide they need a lifelong companion.
  • Sunlight has no effect on the kids, although they do like the dark. As we all know, vampires shun the sun.

So…we really have nothing beyond their peculiar diet that would cause us to call these kids vampires.

Are They Zombies?

Here’s what Zombies do…

  • They decompose. In the book the kids decompose if they don’t get blood.
  • They don’t have much of a brain. Aside from faint nerve memory which causes them to lumber in a pattern which vaguely mimics their human existence (lumbering towards the Mall, for example), the brain is gone. Well over time the same thing happens to the kids. Each time they stay dead for a while, they come back and they lose more of their personalities, who they were. They don’t remember things, even things that were more important to them, and they start getting more and more aggressive about food. Sadly, it’s like watching someone with Alzheimer’s fade away and there’s nothing you can do.
  • Zombies live to eat. Vampires are waaaaaaaaay more sophisticated than that. They attend cello recitals and write books, just to name a few of their activities.

That’s actually all there is to zombies …they’re pretty simple creatures, sort of like simple one-celled organisms who live to eat.

By now it should be crystal clear that these kids are definitely not zombies, nor are they vampires. I say, their a little something worse. What do you think?

Suffer The Children

A mysterious disease claims the world's children before bringing them back. To continue surviving, however, they need to ingest human blood. As the blood supply wanes, parents struggle and compete to keep their children alive. In the end, the only source left will be each other. For them, the ultimate question will be: How far would you go for someone you love?


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