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Review: Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Friday, November 21, 2014


Vampire Kisses
Ellen Schreiber

Genre: YA Urban FantasyParanormal Romance
Paperback: 253 Pages
Publication: July 26, 2005 (originally 2003)
by HarperTrophy



In her small town, dubbed "Dullsville," sixteen-year-old Raven — a vampire-crazed goth-girl — is an outcast. But not for long... The intriguing and rumored-to-be haunted mansion on top of Benson Hill has stood vacant and boarded-up for years. That is, until its mysteriously strange new occupants move in. Who are these creepy people — especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town prattle actually ring true? Are they vampires? Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth. 

Review

I was in high school when the Twilight craze was at its strongest, and I was a fan at first. But around the time the movie came out my junior year, I decided that I needed to look for some new vampires, preferably some that didn't sparkle. I actually read most of this series in high school, but I thought it would be good to revisit it and see if it holds up as well for an adult as it did for a teenage girl.

Schreiber's writing is fresh and light, definitely easy enough for a tween to follow. I did find a few inconsistencies in timing and details, but these were probably minor enough that wouldn't really bother younger readers. There is a bit of angst thrown in for teens to relate to, but it's not done in a heavy-handed way. There's plenty of humor, and seeing a Goth girl get the best of preppy boys made for some good laughs, whether you're a Goth or not.

Personally, I love and hate Raven at the same time. I love her because she is spunky and sassy, stands up for herself and what she believes in, and cares for her best friend and family even though they don't agree with or share her lifestyle choices. I hate her because her sassiness sometimes borders on making her look like a brat and at times her tastes seem a little... extreme in keeping with cliches, if you will. Something I think people should keep in mind (and that I wish I had known a few years ago) before reading this book is that Ellen Schreiber was a comedian before becoming a writer. Raven is a parody of Goths, what with wearing black lipstick every day, obsessing over vampires, and automatically hating any article of clothing that isn't black. As a Goth myself, I frequently found myself rolling my eyes or giggling at her, as I still embrace some of those cliches at my age.

Most of the other characters were bland, and this was really disappointing. We get quite a bit on how Raven's parents were hippies when they first met, but there isn't really any description about how they came to become more conservative. As soon as Raven's little brother Billy was born, their parents trade in the lava lamps and seventies paraphernalia for Tiffany lamps and business suits. Lack of braces and glasses aside, Billy is a stereotypical computer nerd and annoying little brother. Raven's best friend Becky is a shy and mousy farm girl, mostly acting as Raven's shadow. The antagonist, popular jock Trevor Mitchell, had the potential to be interesting, but that promise fell short, since we are never told why he constantly picks on Raven. Since this is the first book in the series, there will hopefully be some more development on these characters later on.

This book features probably the best teenage vampire I've read about, and we don't see him as much as I would like. We do run into Alexander once or twice in the first half of the book, but he doesn't actually do anything. When he does start to get more screen time, we can see that he really seems like an average, somewhat sheltered guy. He's definitely the opposite of the cool and confident Trevor. He's sweet and kind and very polite, and is later revealed to be something of a romantic. Even though we don't get to spend a lot of time with him, what we do get is enjoyable.

Film critic Leonard Maltin once called Jaws a "miracle" movie, because everything that could've gone wrong went wrong. The same could be said for this book, but in terms of coincidences. It seemed that every piece of evidence that could prove Alexander to be a vampire had some sort of explanation. It actually got to the point where I was expecting him to turn out to just be a normal boy, but then came the reveal in the last few chapters, which felt a lot like the twist ending of a Goosebumps book. I'm also not sure what to make of the ending. It's a good thing that this isn't a standalone book because, by the end, the story feels like it still has something to say. The last chapter practically sets you up for the sequel and leaves you wondering what will happen.

This book isn't horrible, but it isn't stellar either. Lack of character depth and overuse of stereotypes aside, this was a pretty fun read. Despite being something of a caricature, Raven is a likable enough protagonist, and Alexander as a love interest is intriguing and sweet. The mystery and reveal could've been handled better, but there were quite a few moments that provided great laughs throughout the book. This is definitely a teen and tween friendly read, and this book is definitely better than that other series we've come to make so much fun of.

Rating: 3 stars


Series
  1. Vampire Kisses
  2. Kissing Coffins
  3. Vampireville
  4. Dance With a Vampire
  5. The Coffin Club
  6. Royal Blood
  7. Love Bites
  8. Cryptic Cravings
  9. Immortal Hearts

Similar Books
  • Vampire Crush by AM Robinson
  • Got Fangs? by Katie Maxwell
  • Pulse by Kailin Gow
Content
  • Kissing
  • Biting
  • Some physical confrontation

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