Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Review: Two Vampire Novels

Image Credit: Goodreads
I did a semi-live blog of Team Human on Facebook recently, but I'll recap the gist here: Team Human is the Twilight antidote I didn't know I needed. For starters, the title. For seconds, the tagline: Friends Don't Let Friends Date Vampires. For thirds, this line: "A vampire who wants to go to high school?... That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

I enjoyed it for Mel's snark and for the perhaps-racist vampires (200 years of life doesn't prove you're not a bigot), but mostly for the way it wrestles with the question of how to deal with a friend making bad decisions when there's nothing you can do to stop them. Consent and self-determination are addressed extensively here – huge after Twilight's "I like to watch you sleep" bullshit – and in her attempts to save her best friend, Mel doesn't handle everything gracefully. Mel and her two female friends, Cathy and Anna, all react in different – and believable ways – to Mr. Handsome Vampire's presence in their school. And the eyeroll treatment that teen girl + mysterious vampire receives is hilarious.

Image Credit: Amazon
In contrast to Team Human, Claudia Gray's Evernight is the Twilight inversion that let me down. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Bianca has just transferred with her teacher parents to a boarding school which helps vampires readjust to humanity's ever changing concept of "normal."  Although this time it's a vampire school with a few humans in it, instead of the other way around, and Bianca – not her love interest Lucas – is the vampire, all the Twilight nonsense of "But it's for your own good!" carries on with a charming side of "You shouldn't trust anyone (except me)." At one point a side character, Raquel, tidily ticks off the warning flags for why Bianca should run from Lucas as far and fast as she can: starting fights, insisting that he is "protecting" her from non-threats, attempting to isolate her from support networks and loved ones. These are all real signs and elements of abusive relationships. I was excited – a vampire book addressing what healthy relationships are? Two in a row? Hooray!

Aaaaaand then Gray blithely handwaves away all of this as "He was just trying to protect me!"

Needless to say, I will not be reading any more of the Evernight series.