Posts tagged gajillion stars
Posts tagged gajillion stars
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.
I’ve started thinking about all the books I want to read this summer. For me, fall/winter is prime try-something-new time, but the major event of summer is the re-reading. Among others, I’ll be revisiting Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which I’ve read about six or seven times since I picked it up by chance three years ago.
Sunshine was an instant favorite, and remains one of my most beloved books. I recommend it like crazy, I’ve illuminated my copy (which is taped together because I and my numerous lendees wore the cover right off), I stalk Robin McKinley’s blog hoping she’ll talk about it (though the blog is pretty awesome even when she’s not talking about Sunshine or her other amazing works), I wrote a song about it. I am obsessed with this book.
It is the story of Rae, whom everyone calls Sunshine, a baker who has convinced herself she is normal. When coincidence leaves her trapped with a vampire, shackled to the wall in an abandoned mansion, a forgotten talent may hold the key to her survival — as well as his. With Buffy-esque sarcasm and witty asides, Sunshine shows us what she can do, and the dark consequences she didn’t expect.
There are so many things to love about this book. I like lists, so let’s list:
1. Sunshine is so one of us. She’s obsessed with “Others” — werewolves, fallen angels, vampires, and more, all of which actually exist more-or-less in the open in her Alternate Universe America. She reads paranormal novels of dubious quality, she has a special internet set-up to get Other News, and she likes the fact that her motorcycle-riding boyfriend has a few too many magically oriented tattoos.
2. The vampire who becomes Sunshine’s ally is creepy to maximum levels. He seems tolerable only in comparison to the other vampires, even though they’re actually more personable. A short-spoken deadpan snarker, he leaves Sunshine, and the reader, salivating for details that he’s often too reserved to give. There are few things I love more than awkward vampires. He’s also not handsome.
3. The romance, or shall I say lack-thereof. Any moves in that direction are quickly squashed by the nature of vampires in this world. The sexual aspect of vampires is discussed, but in a world where everyone knows that they exist, people are pragmatic about the fact that after having sex with a vampire, you die. What is in the book is blunt and straight-forward in a decidedly, delightfully unromantic way.
4. One of the most attractive aspects of this novel is the blending of grittier urban fantasy/horror style with McKinley’s “fairytale” style narrative. There are some choice words and elegant sentences that make you stop to re-read, underline, and quote. Sunshine has a tendency to digress. Most of her digressions are world-building and/or wonderfully entertaining. Actually, one of my favorite parts was the tangents. This is where some folks get stuck with Sunshine. It seems like they expect it to be action-packed. It is not. Like many of McKinley’s books, the action does come –- and it is engrossing in the best possible way –- but it is limited. In between there’s character development and musings and waiting, which I understand can be maddening, but I enjoy it.
5. Speaking of character development. Sunshine’s character is firmly interwoven with the plot. Her struggle to work with the world as it presents itself to her and overcome her assumptions about herself are as critical and intriguing as the actual battles. It’s about her survival, yes, but also her sanity — her ability to live in the dark world of vampires, and overcome there, without being “of” it herself. Sunshine’s identity as a lover of light propels her through the story with a force and spirit I can’t imagine in any other character. She’s also a baker, and how beautiful is it to pair a feeder of people with an ally she could only feed by dying? I will tell you. So beautiful.
This book is a YA/Adult crossover (the new YA edition is so GOLD and SPARKLY), but not recommended for younger teens. I was fifteen when I first read it, but it’s definitely not for everyone that age. If you have any specific content questions (about this or any other book I review) feel free to ask.