Vamps… by Nancy A. Collins

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Vamps

by Nancy A. Collins

Published By: HarperTeen: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061349171


Lukewarm Teen Vampire Drama

Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 10/01/2008

Lilith is the New York vampire underworld’s queen bee. Young, filthy rich, and still flame resistant, she lives for high-end labels and adoring lackeys. Other Old Blood vampire girls are expected to bow to Lilith’s whims at Bathory Academy, the prestigious school where hunting prey and shapeshifting are core classes.

So when a night spent “slumming” in Central Park results in the death of Lilith’s right-hand vamp—no thanks to a trashy New Blood—things start to change. That nasty New Blood suddenly shows up as Bathory’s newest student. Lilith sees her as a threat, not just on the social scene, but also with her boyfriend, Jules.

Cally couldn’t detest the idea of Bathory Academy more if you paid her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a choice. What’s worse is that Old Blood brat, Lilith, blames Cally for something that wasn’t even her fault. Why can’t Lilith just leave her alone? Then there’s that vampire hunter guy who can’t seem to leave Cally alone, either…

Nancy Collins’s new novel, VAMPS, is an interesting take on the vampire subgenre. Take one part “Beverly Hills 90210,” one part “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and throw in a dash of “Sex in the City,” and you have a New York vampire buffet with plenty of teen angst.

The writing is solid, but the characters are mostly shallow. Cally shows the most depth with her secret history and personal code. Lilith is clearly the “bad girl” here, but she is so utterly shallow that I couldn’t respect her even as a villain. This is epitomized in the scene where she’s more concerned about her father cancelling her credit cards than about the death of her supposed friend. Many of the things she does or tries to do to Cally are cliché, especially when it comes to her obsessive attitude toward her boyfriend, to whom she’s been “promised.”

There are twists and turns enough to keep a reader’s interest. If you can get past the unbelievably shallow Lilith and a handful of clichés, you’re likely to enjoy this novel. Otherwise, I’d look to other paranormal choices.

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Paper Towns… by John Green

Paper Towns
by John Green

Published By: Dutton Books: A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0525478188


This Paper Burns with Soul
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

Margo Roth Spiegelman is a name you say in one breath. Just ask Quentin. Q has watched her grow up, the literal girl next door. When she shows up at his window late one night, he’s swept through the next few hours on an adventure such as he’s never experienced. Still in the thrall of overnight hijinks, he goes to school to learn that Margo has disappeared.

With his friends Ben and Radar, Q desperately works to solve the mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Her cryptic trail of clues has Q crisscrossing central Florida. His friends say she’ll show up at graduation, but he’s not so sure. He doesn’t care about prom or graduation. He just wants to find Margo before it’s too late.

Author John Green knows how to see into the souls of teens on the cusp of adulthood. There is a lot of Young Adult fiction that sees teens just as kids who need to be entertained. Green sees beyond the surface and creates situations that delve into readers hearts—whether they are eighteen years old or thirty or fifty.

Green waxes philosophical fairly often, but it works. There is enough “normal” teen behavior to balance the spurts of deep thinking. Besides the intellect behind the book, Green does a great job of setting each scene. Readers will find each of their senses engaged, pulling them into Q’s life.

Lest readers think I’m all aglow about PAPER TOWNS, it is worth noting that there is a lot of swearing and frequent references to sex and teen drinking. This novel could be used as one of those “teaching moments” professionals like to talk about. Quite frankly, a lot of the behavior in this book is common, so it would be a good chance to talk about it and let kids and parents air out how they feel about these issues, as well as the overall plot of the book.

This is one that will make people see others around them with fresh eyes. I highly recommend this novel for older teens and up.

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