Verdict: DIFFERENT LEE has an interesting plot, but is bogged down by forced dialogue and a lack of tension.
DL, a high school dropout and renown ladykiller, accidentally had sex with a friendly vampire. She informs him the next day that he is part dragon, and that an evil vampire called the Collector is hunting both of them in order to add them to his collection of powerful magical items. Together they, along with some human and supernatural friends, must stop the Collector from harnessing enough power to take over the world.
Though the concept of a “good vampire” feels a little tired since the Twilight craze, the overall concept of DIFFERENT LEE is interesting: there’s a vampire trying to collect powerful magical artifacts (or beings), a town built around a run-down fantasty-themed amusement park, the nagging ghost of a dead grandmother, druids and sorcerers, and a sprinkle of Arthurian legend. Following DL as he discovers his draconian powers and the magical world that surrounds them is the classic hero’s journey.
But, despite the promising premise, there are flaws with DIFFERENT LEE that make it very difficult to enjoy. Tension is often ruined by too much talking, explaining, or negotiating with the Collector. “Has it occurred to you I might cooperate more willingly if I just knew what was going on?” DL asks the supervillain early in the book. The Collector is a powerful sorcerer holding DL’s friend hostage, threatening to cut off fingers if DL doesn’t cooperate. However, he responds by saying, “All right, but I expect your answer as soon as you have mine. Agreed?” Moments like these destroy the tension and the threat of the Collector: how dangerous can he really be if he is making bargains while he has the upper hand? Nearly every opportunity for the reader to be on the edge of their seat is dampened by this lengthy dialogue.
Details that often don’t need an explanation are over-explained: when forming a plan, the characters discuss every single option, every single time. There is always a character nearby who is well-versed in the magical world to explain why certain options aren’t possible. Presumably, this is to prevent the reader from saying something like “well, why couldn’t they just do this?” It makes sense to try answering questions before the reader has the chance to ask them. However, it creates an unrealistic and un-tense feeling for the reader when the characters establish they are in mortal danger, then thoroughly discuss a plan as if they have unlimited time.
On the other hand, the larger laws of this magical world are never concretely established. It’s only toward the end of the novel that the reader understands what it means when DL taps into his inner dragon: does he actually transform into a dragon? Does he just have draconian powers but maintain his human form? What are those powers? Limits of the magic and magical worlds are not discussed, so the use and inability to use magic feels arbitrary throughout the book.
DIFFERENT LEE has an interesting plot, but is bogged down by forced dialogue and a lack of tension.
~Jess Costello for IndieReader