Empire V Book Review


A Novel Revamp

by Aaron Kent


There are many great fiction books about cults. Ranging from Chuck Palahniuk’s incredible and sublime, Survivor – the tale of Tender Branson, a cult member who rises to religious fame when other cult members begin to commit suicide – to Iain Banks less-shocking, and more subversive, Whit. Victor Pelevin can add his clever and interesting Empire V to that list.

Pelevin is something of an international hit, particularly in his homeland of Russia where he has been hailed as the leading novelist of the new generation of homegrown writers, however his fame has yet to translate to any substantial following in Western society. This is a shame as there are tones of Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis in his work, yet these influences merely border a style which is distinctly his own.

Released in 2006, Empire V lead to Pelevin taking a short break from writing novels as he focused instead on short stories. This may have been due to the entire text of the book being made available online as part of a leak prior to its release, or it may have just been Pelevin’s time to take a break, regardless, it was a mighty fine novel to begin a hiatus with.

Empire V takes a post-modern look at the social and economic uncertainty prevalent throughout the lives of today’s generation and mirrors global concerns with that of a vampiristic cult. As the sequel to 1999’s Generation P, Pelevin’s narrative follows a young vampire throughout the streets of Moscow as he lives a Patrick Bateman-esque existence. True Blood this is not.

The novel’s main character is Rama, a young vampire who, as part of a society of vampires, is almost forbidden to interact with human society as they live in their own independent culture. Vampires are seen to have powers, such as reading people’s thoughts after drinking their blood. Rama knows the ability to control mankind is in reach, but concerns himself with the existential dilemma of being a bloodsucker. Pelevin’s tale is a smart, witty, and politically motivated observation of an occasionally dull variety of character in the canon of horror storytelling. 

Empire V has been adapted into a film by Victor Ginzburg, the director and producer of the previous Pelevin adaptation Generation P. Planned for a 2017 release, Ginzburg has promised that the film will exceed the prequel.

Empire V is available February 18th courtesy of Gollancz. Pre-order your copy here.

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