Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.-Caissie St. Onge

This book has probably one the catchiest titles I’ve seen in a long time. We’ve all read books and stories and seen movies that involved vampires. They are unnaturally beautiful, graceful, charming and dangerous. Caissie St. Onge seemed to have at some point thought, “Well, what if there was a vampire that was horrible at being a vampire?” Thus, came Jane Jones.

“For Jane Jones, being a vampire is nothing like you read about in books. In fact, it kind of sucks. She’s not beautiful. She’s not rich. She doesn’t ‘sparkle.’ She’s just an average slightly nerdy girl from an ordinary suburban family (who happens to be vampires). Jane’s from the wrong side of the tracks (not to mention stuck in the world’s longest awkward phase), so she doesn’t fit in with the cool vampire kids at school or with the human kids. To top it all off, she’s battling an overprotective mom, a clique of high school mean girls (the kind who really do have fangs), and the most embarrassing allergy in the history of the undead: she’s blood-intolerant. So no one’s more surprised than Jane when for the time in her ‘life’, things start to heat up (as much as they can or a walking corpse anyway) with not one but two boys. Eli’s a geek but cute real-life boy in her history class, and Timothy is a beautiful, brooking bloodsucker who just might hold the key to a possible cure for vampirism. Facing an eternity of high school pressure and fumbling first dates or a mere lifetime together with Timothy, what’s a ninety-something-year-old teen vampire to do?”

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Jane (also known as Josephine pre-vampire) is that St. Onge kept her a teenager, even though she’s ninety years old. It made the book fun to read because I too was once an awkward slightly nerdy teenage girl. And I totally felt this poor fictional girl’s pain. A new school. Mean girls. Cute boys. Crazy teachers.

Jane’s blood allergy is a unique twist in young adult vampire supernatural books. She sort of the anti-vampire I suppose. She can only feed on a rare type of blood called Bombay blood and she only feeds once week from a couple drops on a spoon. For me, this made her seem more like a normal girl. She’s not graceful or gorgeous and totally disconnected from the real world. And I know, she’s a vampire. She’s not suppose to have any connection to the real world. But it’s nice to be able to go “Oh my Jane, I feel your awkwardness completely.” Hell, I’m almost thirty and sometimes feel like I’m still going through some strange awkwardness of a teenager.

There are two plots in the book: The cure for vampirism and some strange stalker like behavior by her American History teacher, Ms. Smithburg. I liked the secondary plot a bit more than the trying to find a cure one, because we got to see Jane actually use some of her vampire glamouring ability. Unfortunately, I felt that this plot was too short. There could have been more depth played into this plot. But the narrator is a forever sixteen year old vampire so I’m willing to forgive. I remember being sixteen and couldn’t keep a straight thought.
Overall, this book was a super enjoyable piece of brain candy and I totally would suggest it for teenagers and adults alike J

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FEED by Mira Grant


“The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we had created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the rail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.”
This is a book I discovered on my friend Jenn’s GoodReads page (if you don’t know what GoodReads is, it’s kinda like Facebook but for super nerds who love books). What caught my eye was the cover: the little RSS symbol made in blood. The play on the word “feed” also caught my attention because it’s a zombie book! Now, I have only read a hand full of zombie type books, but they have all been supernatural type situations. These, are back from the dead no magic involved zombies.
The idea of a virus causing zombificiation isn’t anything too new. 28 Days Later made them fast moving rage filled zombies. Resident Evil made them mutant zombies with T-Virus. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland made the idea of zombies funny. The Walking Dead showed survivors of the zombie-apocalypse. George Romero made them a cult favorite. The idea that when the cure for the common cold and the cure for cancer met and combined in the human body made the dead come back to life, that’s what Feed brings to the walking dead. Grant does a great job of creating a believable world of zombies from the beginning. The newer the zombie, the more they still resemble the living. The older the zombie, the more they move like the shambling zombies from movies of old.
The jist of the story is that when Senator Peter Ryman of Wisconsin decides to take a team of bloggers along on his run for the White House, Georgia and Shaun Mason are quick to submit their application. They, along with their friend Buffy are selected, and view this as the chance to launch their careers to a whole new level...that is, if they can survive the campaign trail.
What sets this book apart from the rest of the pack was the fact that though zombies were a part of life, they didn’t run the story. What ran the story and moved the plot along were the characters: Georgia and Shaun Mason, two blogging journalists. I knew I would like Georgia as the narrator from the first sentence: “Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot-in this case my brother Shaun-deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.” Then, seven pages later they are doing a suicidal leap on a dirt bike on a ramp that is a fallen fence over a herd of infected to make their escape. Oh! What a way to hook readers! But then, of course, comes a lot of exposition. I’m normally not a huge fan over drawn out exposition, the action picking up about 150 pages in. But, the exposition was so well written. The long exposition helped explain things that happen later in the story.
Another interesting device is the use of blogging in the book. At the end of each chapter, there is a snippet of blog entries. I feel that this was helpful in not only giving insight into the personalities and minds of the main characters, but also gives more insight into the chapter itself. It explains the emotional content for me. For instance, after an assassination attempt on the campaign trail when someone tried to kill everyone by using infected. At the end of the attack, the Masons volunteer to stick around to help with the clean up. After that, there’s a blog entry by Shaun describing the intensity of their first clean up. It helped you understand the nature of the volunteer: Immense.
I feel what helped me keep turning the pages to the end was Georgia’s na├»ve search for the truth and the delivery of the truth. Her and Shaun, as well as their business partner in their blog site, Buffy, have themselves so wired up with video and voice recorders to capture every moment of their lives in a worlds full of zombies. In their world, everything is black and white: you are either one of the infected or you’re not. But it’s after when one of their own, dear flighty, paranoid, tech wiz and Fictional writer for the Mason’s blog site, After the End Times, betrays them and pays for it with her life. And to prevent her becoming a zombie, or what the book calls, the process of reamplification, Georgia plants a bullet in her head. It’s the emotion that Georgia and Shaun shared, real loss of a friend, that made them become more human than at the beginning of the book where they are merely hardnosed bloggers to be taken seriously. I feel that the exposition helped contrast the kind of people they had become. It was not merely just reporting the truth, it was about the life within the truth. They had never had to experience the death of one of their own. And being hunted down by crazed fanatics who feel the need to stop the news doesn’t discourage them. They know they are in over their heads, and they know that they will probably die, but come hell or high water, the truth will get to the people of the world who live in constant fear and held up inside their homes with nothing but the internet to connect them to the outside world.


What got me, what really through me for a loop with an insane twist is that Georgia Mason dies. Yes. I know. While running for cover from bombs and gunfire, she is shoot with a dart full of pure Kellis-Amberlee, the zombie virus. Before her death, she writes what I feel is the best piece of the whole book. She urges everyone to re-post the blog in hopes that it will spread the truth and make people realize that there is a group of people fighting against finding a cure for Kellis-Amberlee, that they want the people of the world writhing in fear and mistrust to better control the populace. The end of the blog actually had me in tears. Georgia begs Shaun to kill her before she forgets who she is. And, like a good and loving brother, he blows her brains out.
The rest of the book is from Shaun’s point of view and how he takes his revenge out on (dramatic music please) the Senator’s running mate. He’s the one who set up the assassination attempt in Eakley, OK and an outbreak of the virus at the Senator’s family ranch which took the life of their eldest teenage daughter. Shaun’s narration is not as crisp and sarcastic as Georgia’s, since he is operating on raw emotions. But he is able to tell the story, to get the truth out there, and to avenge his sister’s death.

So all in all, this book was amazing. I consider it the best book I have read all year. I love reading Young Adult fiction, but it was nice to read a book dealing with characters around my own age group. I was really starting to wonder if I was to start going through puberty again. This book inches above Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon, and that’s hard for me to admit because she writes one of my favorite series and is one of my favorite authors (but she does plays second banana to Jim Butcher in my book).  Grant did a great job of blending science, horror, and political intrigue into a unique read. I am so stoked to read the sequels, Deadline and Blackout. :)
I suggest that even if you claim not to be into zombies, give this book a chance. You might come away as surprised as I was at how awesome this book is.