In the interest of honesty, I will admit that this is a series that I have been avoiding. However, this book was chosen for a book club read. As I was given a copy of the book to allow for my participation, I decided to give it a try despite having previously avoided it.
Author: Melissa de la Cruz has managed to forge a cosy spot for herself in the YA market in recent years. She has recently released the first book in a new series about witches, which I had ordered, but the publishers were unable to deliver it. As such this is my first title by this author.
Presentation: Not much that I can say about this as I had a digital copy of the book. All I can say is that the chapters were quite short.
Story: Honestly, there's not really very much that I can think to put about the story. I would copy the synopsis but it is misleading - stating facts that do not occur in the book and giving an incorrect idea of the timeline.
Basically a popular student from an elite school in New York is found dead at a private nightclub, drained of her blood. The hitch? The girl is a Blue Blood, a vampire, supposedly immortal. Without a single drop of her blood left, she is unable to restart her cycle of life. These events force the elder Blue Bloods to induct the younger generation into their society before they normally would have done. They deny the rumour of some more powerful creature preying on the teenage vampires, but for Schuyler this threat is all too real.
Thoughts and impressions: First of all, let me point out that I really liked the idea behind this story. The vampires are all angels, thrown out of the garden of Eden after the war between God and Lucifer. Ever since they have strained to lead good lives, hoping to be allowed to return whence they fell. They live mortal lives in "shells" (bodies) before they return to hibernation as but a drop of blood until they are called to exist again (their blood is implanted in a female Blue Blood and they gestate as a normal human baby would.) Their memories of their past lives and their identities as vampires remain dormant until they reach mid-adolesence. At this point the teen will start to undergo a transformation into their true self. I felt that this was a really interesting and original take on vampire lore.
(The only thing that really did not make sense about the vampires was that the fangs are kept in the wisdom teeth. How does that work? How do you get your wisdom teeth to puncture a person's neck?)
However, this good was completely eclipsed by the bad. A good portion of this came from the style, which I will come to later. What really frustrated me throughout the story was the constant brand name dropping. There was probably at least one per page, maybe even more. I get that the characters are materialistic, but does it really need to be taken to this extent? The author has an obsession with clothes. Even Schuyler, who wears what comes across as tattered rags, has all her outfits described, which is a complete contradiction of her personality. There were often passages that were just endless brand name dropping and I would find myself zoning out. Why make your characters so shallow? so boring? Especially when there was endless potential to make them really interesting as immortals.
Food is another thing that is described in far too much detail. I really do not need to know all of this detail. I have an imagination, thank you very much. I know that the characters are all wealthy members of the uppermost class in New York society - I can imagine what their clothes may look like. I don't need to be bottle fed all of this, I can picture it on my own and frankly the author's lack of belief in me as a reader is insulting.
Another problem is that the characters remain flat with only the very basics of a personality. I do not feel strongly either way about any of them. Not to mention that all of them are unbelievably pretty with faults that aren't really faults. Even Schuyler, wearing her rags, her hair unwashed for two weeks, is handpicked for a modelling agency. The scene where Schuyler actually goes to model seems to be entirely against her personality. But then again her whole character is just one big contradiction.
(Also, the British make up artist with the Cockney accent calling her 'luv'? How stereotypical. Did it annoy anyone else?)
There was just far too much filler in this story and not enough actual story. If fact, I think the story itself could be condensed down into about 20 pages.
Style: The fundamental rule to writing is: show not tell. I think that this author has never heard of this rule. Throughout the book all she does it tell, tell, tell. In chapter 3 she is introducing the character Bliss - the reader gets an information dump about her whole past. All of it could have been shown and not told but one part in particular bugged me the most. We are told that the other kids at the school make fun of Bliss's Texan accent. Why tell this? Why not write it into a scene at the school? At no point do any of the students ever mock her accent. So this is something that the author tells the reader but doesn't bother to back up her claims. The whole story is like this.
On top of this, each time a character is introduced we get whacked over the head with a full body description of their physical attributes, facial features, clothes, style, family history, friendships, etc. etc. etc. And it all comes in information dumps rather than being interwoven into the narrative. The whole book reads like a trigger happy 15-year-old wrote it. I am very surprised that it was published in this state.
The only thing that it has going for it is that it is written in the third person so there are no constant references to how unbelievably hot and perfect and sexy and gorgeous and whatever else some guy is.
Final verdict: The style was one of the weakest styles that I have ever read. It was weaker that Stephenie Meyer's style, and if you know me you'll know much it galls me to say that. The story could have been so good had it not been three quarters about brand names. As it is, I have to give the author credit where credit is due: I have never ever been so bored when reading a book. I was going to give the book 2 stars on the strength of its plot, but then I realised that I've given less to books that are far superiour to this one. 1 star.
Extra notes: No bad language. No sex, though it comes close once and references are made to it.