BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review of "Senior Year Bites" by J.A. Campbell

Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Release date: June 22, 2011


Buying Info:  Amazon     Decadent Publishing

Book Blurb (from Decadent Publishing):

Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation.

It's significantly harder to enjoy it when you’re dead.

Truth or Dare is supposed to be fun too. It’s not even close to dangerous, so playing at Steph's house didn't seem like a bad idea. My dare? Spend the rest of the night in the graveyard next to her house. It was only a couple of hours until false dawn, my proscribed return time, so no big deal right? Right.

I survived the attack, but it took me a few days to figure out what was going on. I mean vampires might stalk pop culture, but they're just myths. Yeah. Not so much.

School is a lot more difficult when you're a nocturnal creature of the night. I was managing, but I couldn't keep it hidden from my friends for long. After I managed to accidentally save one of our cheerleaders from her drunk and ill-intentioned boyfriend. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.


Only I’m a vampire, not a hero, and we live in a sleepy New England town, so crime's a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He’s got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don't have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team.

Word count – 54k

 

In my last couple of reviews, I added quotes to give readers an idea of the writer's style and what I liked or didn't like about it or just thought was fun or interesting. I'm going to do that for most reviews from now on. With this one, I'm adding a teaser feature also, a mini excerpt, a paragraph usually, that might pique your interest in the book. I'll do that for most future reviews, also.

 

 *This review contains minor spoilers*

 

My Thoughts:

Teaser: I wondered what her name was. Though I could identify her by her reek, I didn't think either Steph or Ann would appreciate me calling  her "reeks of lavender" out loud.

That was almost too much, even for me. I had to believe in vampires, but I couldn't help picturing Tinker Bell flying around and sprinkling faerie dust on people that had been killed. I snorted.

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I've been a fan of Campbell's writing since her first installment of her "Into the West" series (and I'm impatiently waiting for the last two installments.) This book has similarities in style to that short story series: a minimum of angst (though there's more in this one, but it's not overdone), humor, an easy, light way of writing, and teens who are a little bit goody two shoes but believable. She also avoids details that might date the story - music, cars, clothes, etc are not referred to by brand except generically ie Meg drives a Jeep but that's all the detail we get. I like that sparseness, there's enough detail to visualize what's happening and fill in the blanks but she doesn't drown you in detail or get all trendy or drop names. The focus is the story and the characters. 

The main characters are Meg and her friends, who are high school students and college students; what few adults we see have little page time. I was somewhat disappointed actually that we didn't see more of Meg's mother. We're told, often, how worried she is and we see her worry but we learn little about her and her interactions with Meg are mostly "honey, why aren't you eating?" (she doesn't know that Meg's a vampire now), "you're so tired these days" and "Yes, you can go to a sleepover at Steph's" house. The focus is on the teen characters but I really would have liked more depth to the adults.

That aside, I really enjoyed this book. The story starts after Meg has been bitten. Her attacker didn't stick around but took off and Meg is taking the sink or swim course in learning how to be a vampire. Later in the story she gets help from an unexpected source. Meg has a lot to learn - how to live as vampire (simple things like remembering to wear her coat while outside in the middle of winter are a challenge for her), dealing with her family, friends, and even high school as a vampire, and, when a supernatural killer comes to town and starts targeting her food ie humans that she's fed from, she grapples with hunting him down and embracing her inner vampire. The scene near the end, where she lets lets her vampire self have full reign in dealing with the killer, is both bittersweet and victorious. She stops the killer and saves her friends but has to let go of a piece of her humanity to do so.

As the story goes along, Meg's friends also have to learn how to cope with her and their relationships change. They also collect some new acquaintances and form an updated Scooby Doo gang, inspired more by Buffy's version than the original, cartoon version. The interactions are enjoyable and come off as believable, something that can be challenging for YA authors.

The world building is light, but she's working on the next book so we may see more in that one. The supernatural world in this book is has vampires and faerie so far; I hope will see more supernatural species, maybe werewolves (bats eyelashes), in future books. We get a glimpse of the faerie world via one of the characters, who also gives us, and Meg, info about vampires. The faerie, who seem to be traditionally based, and vampires, who also seem to have traditional characteristics, do not get along. At first, he doesn't trust Meg, simply because she's a vampire and she dislikes him, he makes the hair on her neck rise and she's suspicious of his relationship with her friend Ann.

The story is set in New England but there's little of a New England feel to the story; it really felt as if it could have happened in any state in the US that has four seasons. (I live in New England and have for most of my life) Also, the school closing for heavy snow was unlikely in the manner in which it happened. The sparseness of details, which I mostly like, may have contributed to the lack of place; I don't know how much research she did but I know she has researched the setting for the next one.

There were some loose ends at the end of the story - Why does Ann speak in a somewhat unnatural, very formal manner? ("It is okay. She is very self-centered. Candice is much better." and "Okay, then we will not have to fight traffic.") What's the connection between the group of teenagers, including Ann's new friends, who moved here simultaneously, and at the same time as Meg's "accident", and recent events? Is there a connection or is it just a red herring? Why did the killer change focus from targeting Meg's victims to girls who resembled Ann? Was Alexander just using Ann to get to Meg? I hope these will be addressed in the next book.

When you get down to it, despite my quibbles, I enjoyed this book and have read it several times now. I like the characters, her mix of vampires and faerie, her style and the overall story.

The reviewer owns this ebook.

7 comments:

  1. Loved this book! I thought it set the series up really well for many sequels to come. :) I'm with you, I totallly wanted to know about the parents, can't wait to find out what they're up to!

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  2. Yep, it's definitely set up for the next book and she has lots to work with. I'm anxious for the next one.

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  3. Thanks so much for the great review :) A lot of good stuff there. Love the quotes you picked too, and what a great idea :)

    Julie

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  4. HI J.A., I'm glad you liked the review! I've seen some other blogs do quotes and liked the idea so I thought I'd do it.

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  5. Oh, great review, both of yas. Nice cover too, huh?

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  6. GREAT review; I loved this book so much. Glad to see it getting the love it deserves...

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