Publication date: 13 September 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN 10/13: 1442423730 | 9781442423732
Category: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: Young adult, fantasy, horror, family, friendship, vampires, unicorns
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.
Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.
The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?Alethea's review:
Vampires, high school, cute boy, prom... yawn. We've been there and done that, right? I still would have bought this book just because the cover looks fun, and the premise is frankly zany. I mean, c'mon--a unicorn stabbing a vampire? Pssh! Silliest thing I've heard all week. I'm a huge fan of silly.
But Sarah Beth Durst manages to take all the classic vampire myths, smush them together with all the corny teen clichés made popular by a certain vampire series, and turn it all on its ear--into a novel so entertaining and funny that I stayed up two nights in a row to read it. It was worth the sleep-deprivation.
Pearl starts out as a confident young vampire (born, not made, and definitely not sparkly!) but quickly loses her cool when she gets stabbed by a unicorn (yes, a freaking unicorn!) and lives, or rather continues to inhabit the immortal coil instead of poofing into a pile of dust. She evolves from a swaggering monster of a teenage girl into a conscientious, friendly, and rather clever protagonist. She picks up a few friends along the way, and basks in the sunlight just long enough to really enjoy herself, before her social-climbing family puts the kibosh on her happiness with their deadly party planning business.
Poor Pearl. I really felt her angst when she realized that her actions had consequences of the type that would get her new friends killed, and that she'd be very, very sad if that happened--an alien feeling for a creature like her. I enjoyed and believed the way that Pearl's character changed over the course of the book.
I also really liked her friends. Evan is just quirky and dorky enough to balance out his knight-in-shining-armor qualities. The rest of the cast: the standard nerds, the popular girls, the jocks, and even some of Pearl's family members manage to break free of their stereotypical molds and play interesting parts in this big ensemble piece. They even manage to poke fun at Twilight (yes, there, I said it!) in a spirited and festive fashion that doesn't alienate people like me who still like the books [insert self-deprecating snort here].
The only thing I didn't enjoy was the lag about 2/3 into the book. By then any savvy reader has already predicted what needs to happen to bring the story to a satisfying denouement, but the build-up keeps going for another 100 pages. The end comes up too abruptly then. Better pacing would have earned this book the fifth of five stars.
Still, it was an amusing book and made for a great book club dinner. Check out these snapshots from our Young Adult Book Council meeting:
|Jane made blood bags out of some strawberry-flavored Capri Sun|
|Pearl likes her blood ice-cream-flavored; I just like my ice cream with cake |
(and some blood-red strawberry sauce made by Alyson)
|We had a lot of red food. Even our coleslaw looked a bit bloody.|
|There were no frogs in the story, but these tasty dark chocolate frogs |
were a nice way to end the evening (in a sugar coma)
|And mmm... yeah. Steak, medium-rare, just the way I like it.|
I think Pearl would have approved.
Find the author online at sarahbethdurst.com and follow her on Twitter @sarahbethdurst. Alethea read this for YABC's May 2012 meeting.