Since Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter mostly takes place in the past, Seth Grahame-Smith has to spend some time explaining to us what it was like back then, and it was no picnic. Whenever Abe goes to a new place, we get a snapshot of the new location, 19th-century-style: when Abe goes to New Orleans or New York City, we get a quick glimpse of what life is like and how different these cities are from the small towns and farms of Kentucky, Indiana, or Illinois. But this book doesn't just say "here's America before mp3s." It has something else in mind. Through their actions and hopes, the characters here try to make America into the country that they want it to be, whether it's Abe's equality or Jefferson Davis's slave-based country.
Questions About Visions of America
Are there any locations or areas of America that you would want to see in this book? For instance, we don't hear very much about the far West or Texas or the Native American experience of the Civil War? Would those locations distract us from the main plot here or would they deepen our understanding?
How would you describe America as imagined here? Is it a hopeful place? A violent place? Or are the different regions so different that we can't talk about a single, unified America?
Does the book present any region of America as the best place to live? Is the North better than the South? Is Illinois better than Washington, D.C.? Or is it more dependent on the people who come from these areas?
How is America of today (both in the book and in real life) similar to or different from the 1800s America in this book?
Chew on This
The vision of America in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is not a good one. Violence, vampires, other things that start with V. Its only redeeming feature is good-hearted folks like Abe who work to make it better.
In this book, America is at its best when people can find some compromise.