Time to pick up the pace on the ol’ Cannonball Read–two reviews/month will not get me to 52 by the end of the year!
I’ve written about a lot of girly books so far this year, and this one is definitely not. (Well, I’m a girl, and I liked it, but you know.)
At the age of 14, British teen Jaime Carpenter witnessed his father’s murder by heavily armed gunmen. Now two years later, he’s attacked by a strange girl with red eyes and his mother is kidnapped. As if this weren’t enough to take in, he’s then picked up by Frankenstein (the monster, who has taken his creator’s name) and brought to The Loop, the secret underground lair of Department 19 which was founded in order to eradicate vampires by the men who killed Dracula and which is still run by their descendants. Jaime himself is the descendant of Julian Carpenter, Abraham von Helsing’s valet, and his dad worked for the department Jaime’s whole life, but neither Jaime nor his mother had any kind of clue. Jaime’s dad died as a traitor to the organization, having betrayed them to Alexandru one of the oldest vampires still in the world, a fact which doesn’t endear him to many of his father’s former colleagues.
After getting over some of the shock of discovering all of this, Jaime insists on attempting to rescue his mother, with the help of Frankenstein, who was one of his father’s dearest friends, and Larissa, the vampire girl who attacked Jaime on Alexandru’s orders but who was unable to kill him. Jaime goes through 48 hours of super intense military training, and is (in a narratively convenient coincidence) a complete natural. Jaime and Frankenstein follow many useless leads, and all of their attempts to find out what’s really going on keep the reader guessing til the very end. There’s a minor bit of romance between Jaime and Larissa (not surprisingly), and a pretty epic and graphic final confrontation. Hill sets us up perfectly for a sequel, though of course I can’t tell you how. Flashbacks to the beginning of the department and later missions ably fill in details of the vampire mythology in this world.
Lots of gore, plot twists and turns, and one kid’s quest to rescue his mom and exonerate his dad make this book a great read for teen guys, girls and grownups.
It’s supposed to be the perfect prom night for Bliss–she’s even just requested “their song” for her and her boyfriend. But then she discovers him making out (very intensely) with her best friend in the back of their group’s limo. Filled with rage, but unwilling to show any cracks in her perfect popular girl veneer before her other friends, Bliss seeks out bad girl Jolene, who for some reason has shown up at the prom dressed in pink ruffles (so unlike her!), to help her exact revenge upon her boyfriend and former best friend. They coerce shy nerd girl Meg to be their getaway driver, and Meg, having been stood up by her pity date, goes along. The story is told in alternating chapters by the three girls as they steal a diary, crash both a college and high school party, break and enter and eat at Dairy Queen.
There’s nothing much that breaks new ground here. Bliss has been the super popular girl who will do anything to maintain her status, surprised to find herself liking these two misfits. Jolene, the renegade pushing people away to hide her vulnerability, really is a nice girl. Meg is the mouse who turns out to be secretly hot behind her glasses. But this book is still a fun ride through that classic one crazy night. Basically, it’s a perfect teen movie waiting to happen.
Somehow, this is my second review of a book about a girl named Bliss. Strange, that.
The book begins with Beatles lyrics and will get the titular song stuck in your head for days.
Amy is a teenager about to be cryogenically frozen for a 300 year journey from Earth (Sol-Earth) to a planet near Alpha Centauri (Centauri-Earth). She watches her mother and father go through this painful process, and chooses to go with them, even though her father gives her the chance to stay with her aunt and uncle (and stay around her boyfriend Jason). She will go with her parents to see this new world.
Elder is also a teenager, but he has lived his whole life aboard the spaceship Godspeed. He is named Elder because he will take over as leader of the ship when Eldest retires. There is a strict generational structure aboard the Godspeed, and anyone with even a hint of creativity is house in the Ward in the Hospital, and given mental meds.
Amy somehow wakes 50 years early. Her cryo chamber was unplugged, but she is saved by Elder, Eldest and the doctor before she drowns in the cryo fluid. So many things are strange about the ship to Amy–the ship is monoethnic, the people seem to have no emotions, there’s amazing biometric technology, and Eldest holds up Hitler as a great example of a leader. Elder is fascinated by Amy’s red hair and pale skin and she begins to upset his belief in the system. Together they discover that everything is not as hunky dory as Elder had thought. Perhaps the point of leadership is not to eliminate discord, as Eldest had taught.
The background of the mission is really unclear. What was this Financial Resource Exchange on Earth that funded the Godspeed mission? The people aboard the ship use “frex” as an epithet, which seems like it comes from the name of this exchange, but it’s not ever discussed why. The ending is also pretty abrupt. Despite these flaws, I did enjoy reading this book quite a bit. It’s Revis’s first novel and I’m excited to see what comes next for her. Will it be a sequel?