Vampire Academy coverflip
Coverflip is a challenge from author Maureen Johnson, analyzing how books by women are marketed differently than books by men. I love this take on Vampire Academy!
Sorry for the radio silence. School and personal blog taking precedence. I have a few reviews that I’ve been sitting on, though, so I’m going to try to keep things going here a while longer. Here’s one for an awesome upper YA/adult urban fantasy, music-heavy and with some of my favorite vampires to date.
I read Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready to prepare for TAC last year. Unfortunately wasn’t able to tell the author how much I liked it. But I was in the same building with her, so that’s cool.
From the website:
Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, 60s psychedelia, 80s Goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers how the DJs maintain their cred: they’re vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.
Read the rest of the description and check out playlists and extras here.
First off, in all aspects of plot and characters, this book delivers. I didn’t feel like anything was a tease or was less cool or exciting than it should have been. We get to see a lot of the vampires’ quirks: their OCD both as a general character trait and something that can be used against them, the way they feed and how the hierarchy of drinking and progeny works, how they can be injured and killed. We have a con woman as a main character, and we see several examples of her skills in that regard. We have creepy vampire compound; we actually get to go inside it and look around. We have vampire DJs; we get a taste of what they play and how they work. Every interesting and intriguing article was explored, rather than leaving me disappointed like certain other books I could mention. The plot was pretty straightforward, allowing all the players to shine and providing time for a few intriguing detours.
Secondly, we have a genuinely complicated vamp/human relationship that didn’t feel forced or cheap. The heroine keeps weighing the decision to be with Shane, is honestly disturbed by and worried about him, and throughout the book takes each further step as a calculated risk. This felt true to her character; she’s a con artist. Sometimes she tried to cut and run, but she understood that she might have to risk things few people would to get what she wanted. Shane is cute and kind of dorky, super romantic when in wooing mode (there is a scene, you will know it when you get to it), and completely threatening and scary when he needed to be. The other vampires, similarly, had moments where you could see them honestly trying to be friendly and not scare Ciara away, and then next minute they seem totally morally defunct and frightening. I love this. Things are really, truly complicated for them, and it makes everything seems more real.
For good measure, a few more lovable things. Shane being honest with Ciara about his depression early on, and separating the medical aspect of depression that he, as a vampire, no longer suffers, from the emotional troubles he still has. Monroe, who is plainly awesome. Regina’s country of origin (which I part-share). Fireflies.
In conclusion, I am salivating for the rest of this series. Please someone put them in my hands right now. And get them yourself. ‘Cause this book is awesome.
Interesting. Fiction seems fond of these places. Actually, fiction seems fond of having them turn out to be dangerous, i.e. Bella and Edward’s meadow or Sunshine’s cabin.
While working on this I kept looking at that Calvin and Hobbes strip: “It’s a magical world… Let’s go exploring!” That’s how I wanted this to feel.
This is for Maya. It’s called “Three Doctors.”
I am honestly speechless. I… oh, my gosh, thank you so much. This is so amazing, you are so amazing, I can’t even, ah, I just printed this out and it’s now the cover of my notebook, this is so fantastic you are so fantastic thank you so much.
Aaaah I don’t really know what to say. You’re lovely and fantastic and I just wanted to do something to maybe help remind you of your awesome. You’re so very welcome and I’m just incredibly glad you like it.
This is a twelve-book series, of which I’ve read the first two: Cirque du Freak and The Vampire’s Assistant.
How old is this kid? I never could figure it out. I understand that he’s immature at this stage in the series, but I can’t tell if he’s seven or fourteen. I read and love books with very young protagonists and I have rarely been this annoyed by a narrator. Between overuse of exclamation points, gratingly explanatory dialogue, and some things that are just plain silly in a non-entertaining way, I don’t believe him or care about him. When characterization in the first book puts me off this much, I will not stick around to see the character development, no matter how amazing it might be. If I hadn’t planned to review it I never would have gone on to the second book, but back to that in a moment.
I feel like this book should have been scarier; a lot of objectively interesting and frightening things happen to Darren. I didn’t get that emotional response I wanted. It doesn’t help that, despite Darren freaking out at every objectively-creepy-why-do-I-the-reader-feel-nothing thing, some of the scariest parts of the book are things he comes up with himself. To quote part of his opening monologue:
Usually, a spider would slip away after no more than a day or two, never to be seen again, but sometimes they hung around longer. I had one who made a cobweb above my bed and stood guard for almost a month. Going to sleep, I used to imagine the spider creeping down, crawling into my mouth, sliding down my throat, and laying loads of eggs in my belly.
And this kid is freaked out by a relatively normal empty building. Honestly? The tone is inconsistent and detracts from parts which could have been much creepier. The whole cirque performance felt distant, forced and unreal, like watching a movie with bad CGI. Mr. Crepsley felt similarly detached. I wanted to know more about him, I wanted more detail out of his interactions with Darren. It just felt like nothing hit, even with Darren’s friends or family. Potentially dramatic moments were flattened by shallow characters and cliches. I was missing that foundation of believability to help me immerse in the fantasy.
I’m not going to rant about the Literary Agent Hypothesis thing because it is not one of my favorite tropes anyway and I know that ties into the series later on. I hold my peace on that one. Having two kinds of vampires who don’t get along is not the newest thing, but I pardon that also since I didn’t read far enough to know how it was handled.
But for heaven’s sake, shouldn’t someone be watching Steve? This kid clearly has issues. Also compound sentences call for commas. I understand artistic license, but this is a bit over the edge. My inner grammarian shed tears.
For the sake of fairness, I read the second book. Sometimes the first book in a series needs to get its bearings, and I was interested in reading about the snake boy, Evra. He was cool but underutilized. The second book had a lot of the same problems with an extra dose of narm, though Darren does calm down a little. There are more positives, like a few fun twists on vampire feeding habits and more interesting side-characters. The style simply doesn’t appeal to me, but it seems there are innovation as the books get more serious that potentially makes the series worth reading. Though I can only comment on the first two books and have little interest in reading further, I recommend looking up the series page on tv tropes or wikipedia if you’re not sure. Also more circuses in all the books, please.