Summer means plenty of beach tourists…and plenty of fresh blood after months of deprivation. But this year the Eternal Ones have decided to spice things up with a little bet: The first to seduce a hot date of the human variety, and then turn him into a fellow creature of the night, wins. The catch? In order to successfully turn their prey, they must take only three small sips of blood on three different nights. If they take too much blood on any night, the human will die and the bet will be lost.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any of my previous reviews, but I LOVE vampires. As in I’ve been obsessed with them since I was seven years old. So naturally, I was excited to find out that R.L. Stine had written a vampire book for teen readers (the first Goosebumps book I remember reading was Vampire Breath). I vaguely recalled hearing about this book and seeing it in classrooms when I was a kid, but never got around to reading it until now.
The plot was relatively solid. Not tight since it meandered and floundered at some points, but nothing too distracting. However, I wasn’t terribly crazy about the way this book was structured. There were times when I thought chapters were cut too short just so they would end on cliffhangers, which really wasn’t that necessary. Another problem I had was with wordiness; a lot of things were repeated, like the vampires' hair color and the seductiveness of their eyes and lips. These reminders weren't necessary at all and only made the prose more awkward and clunky.
The human characters were bland for the most part. This might be because they're just pawns for the vampires to play with, but there wasn't really anything that made them memorable. The only one who somewhat stands out is Matt, whom I remember as the guy obsessed with horror movies and whose girlfriend gets frustrated with him. There's also the easy-to-spot dated references: the theater in town is showing a Friday the 13th triple feature, there's a photo shop, and no mention of cell phones. This isn't bad, but it also got me wondering if Stine had just watched another 80s horror classic, An American Werewolf in London, while writing this since one of the characters meets a fate similar to a character from the movie. Nothing lycanthrope-related but if you've seen the movie and read this, you might catch the reference.
I have to admit, I love classic vampires. I do like some re-imaginings, but sometimes there’s no topping some of the classic lore: no reflections, no crosses, no garlic, no going out until nighttime. These are the kinds of bloodsuckers we’re dealing with, and I like them… for the most part. The vampires don’t refer to themselves as vampires, but instead as Eternal Ones. It’s not clear why they’re called eternal; I assumed that it's because they stay however old they are when they’re transformed, but that theory was knocked off when a vampire describes how he has to put effort into looking youthful again. We're never given a reason for this, and the curiosity bothered me while reading.
Maybe it's because they stick so close to classic vampire traits that Stine may have felt it unnecessary to dive more into the mythos of these Eternal Ones. For me, this was a huge lost opportunity and probably the biggest disappointment of the book. Because we spend so much time with the vampires, I would've loved to have known more about them and how it is that they came to become Eternal Ones. One of them reflects on how she doesn't remember her human life at all, while the other notes that the soil surrounding his coffin is the only thing left of his homeland. This brought up a lot of questions that I hoped would be answered at some point but never were.
Then there’s the twist ending. I liked it, but it felt like it was thrown in just for the sake of having a twist. There is a sequel though, and the twist might tie in to what happens in the next book. (For this review, I read the collector’s edition which has both this story and its sequel, plus a bonus short story. If you would like to check it out, click here.) It honestly has me split down the middle: everything seemed all fine and good, but then came the twist in the last chapter. The one plus I see to the twist is that it sets you up for a sequel, where hopefully we get answers to the questions that came up during this book.
Like I said in my last Stine review, try going into this book with the sort of mentality you’d have before watching a cheap horror movie. As was mentioned earlier, this had a good, if sometimes rambling, plot. The vampires are melodramatic almost to the point of being funny, though this may be Stine's personal touch (he was a comedian to start off with, after all). These vampires are kind of sexy but still relatively tween friendly; they're not meant to be totally romantic and do have moments when they're actually kind of scary. Bad prose and lack of vampire mythology aside, this was a quick and fun read. Not the best out there by any means, but still pretty okay.