Mel lives in New Whitby, the city of vampires. However, she’s mostly okay with that: vampires stay in one side of town while she and the other humans stay in theirs. As long as everyone stays separated, Mel’s content to go to school, go to fencing, and hang out with her friends. However, one day a vampire enters her high school, and her best friend Cathy falls hard for the vampire. Mel considers herself to be a problem-solver, and she isn’t about to let Cathy make the worst mistake of her life. Not on Mel’s watch.
Overall, I really got a kick out of this book. The setting is pretty creative, and Larbalestier and Brennan do a great job of developing it within the context of the story. I particularly liked the counseling center and the humorous descriptions of the vampire neighborhood. Some of their descriptions of the vampires and their world reminded me of Bite Me, a lovely vampire farce comic set during the French Revolution (it’s glorious). Also, there are zombies, which is pretty awesome, and you get to meet a few up close and personal. There seriously needs to be more teen vampire books with zombies in them. The plot is engaging, and I enjoyed the characters, particularly Mel and Kit, a human boy who lives with vampires. I thought the authors did a good job of keeping these characters human and true-life enough that people could relate to them. I also appreciated that there was constantly conflict over Cathy’s decisions and how it was possible to relate to Mel’s intent and feelings about all of this situation. The whole plot was just the right amount of dramatic.
I do have one complaint, and I’m sure in the minority here: Larbalestier and Brennan did not do their research on fencing. In the story, it comes up that Mel is a fencer. As a fencer myself, I thought that it was cool to have a character who fences, and was kind of disappointed that I as a reader never got to see Mel fence, even though she fences saber and I fence foil. However, later Mel makes the comment that she was looking forward to stabbing someone in practice. This…annoyed me. Here’s the thing; saberists don’t generally stab their opponents. Saber is a cutting weapon, and saberists score touches by slashing rather than stabbing. As a saberist, Mel would be doing something like this. Now, maybe the source of my annoyance was just poor diction on their part, but I don’t think that would have happened if they had investigated it. I found this part particularly disappointing because most of the rest of the book was quite well-done, and so I got mad. That and because I’m a fencer, and someone has to give a crap about how my sport is portrayed. Whew. Okay,rant’s over.
So, to sum up: Despite their ignorance on fencing, Larbalestier and Brennan write a pretty entertaining and funny vampire novel. So check it out!