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- Why I picked it up: Cool cover, interesting premise (fresh take on vampires), humor
- Disclosure: Checked it out of the library, received no reimbursement from author or publisher
For Zack Thomson, life in the Nicholls Ward wasn't so bad. After his parents died, he developed strange and severe allergies, and the mental institution was the only place where he could be properly looked after. As strange as it was, it was home. He could watch as much television as he wanted; his best friend, Charlie, often visited him; and Nurse Ophelia sometimes took him bowling. Of course, that didn't mean he had it easy. His allergies restricted his diet to strawberry smoothies, and being the only kid at the hospital could get lonely. But it never once crosses Zack's mind to leave...until the night someone crashes through the front doors and tells him to run. Along with Charlie and a girl he may or may not be falling in love with, he does just that: run. Under cover of night, hiding amongst the shadows, he races for the truth.Umm. This is one of those books I just don't know how to review. I'd almost picked it up several times, because it seemed like one of those vampire novels that's quirky enough to work, like Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, which is my favorite vampire novel ever. You just know that the strawberry smoothies Zack was referring to aren't really strawberry, don't you?
Unfortunately the promise of zany humor in the blurb never delivered; instead we get a nice dose of overwriting and a whacked plot that gave me whiplash with its constant switches from drama to humor. I also hate it when blurbs discuss people maybe or maybe not falling in love, it's usually pretty obvious in the story; and in this one it was kind of a DUH. I did like Luna, though, and I could see why Zack might, too, so I'm willing to let that one slide. But the plot? Not so much.
One thing I did like, though, was Zack's voice. I'll repeat that it was overwritten - actually, I was starting to feel bludgeoned over the head by the end of it - but I still could believe that this was a fifteen-year-old kid who had spent practically his whole life working out, sleeping, and drinking strawberry smoothies in a mental hospital. He was sweet and intriguing, and despite his not being AT ALL crushworthy in my opinion, still a great character.
I strongly disliked the vampirism in this book, actually. I felt like the author was ripping off every other vampire novel out there (Peeps included) instead of using his own ideas, and it didn't even have the sexy entertainment value of Vampire Academy. So, um, no. Didn't work. It didn't add anything to the characters or the story, so it started to feel like something thrown in there to make the book sell, which is bad.
The ending is another thing I'll discuss, hopefully without any spoilers: Ummmmm. Again, I could go either way on this. In parts of it I felt emotionally manipulated; in others I was taken by complete, enjoyable surprise. So if you want to read it, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. But honestly, after the trust was broken with that horrifically misleading blurb - one of my MAJOR pet peeves - you'd struggle to redeem this book in my eyes. So in the end, I guess I'd give it a negative review just for sheer either-wayness. I'd like a book to evoke strong feelings, thank you very much, whether they're negative or preferably positive. At least it was only a library book.
The Final Verdict: This book manages to be sweet, funny, and horribly annoying all at the same time. Vampire fans probably won't like it, and I doubt mainstream YA fans will find it particularly memorable, either. Two and a half out of five stars.