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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vamps With A Twist: Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block

Greetings and salutations! (How's that for a greeting...hmm?) Welcome to all my fellow readers!  For those of you that claim to not be readers...hmmm, your choice of blog visits is rather interesting since this is a book blog and you are actually reading right now in order to see how I am going to finish this really long sentence...hehe.  All the excitement is still going strong as we have two contests open for you to enter (and pass the word on about).  If you are interested in winning a copy of some really fabulous books or other fantasical(don't know why I chose that word, just came to me) prizes, check the right hand sidebar for ease of entry.  That said...on to today's post.  With Halloween fast approaching (gheesh we have like what 4 more days?), I thought I'd focus on a YA title with some bite.  Today's choice is....

Pretty Dead
Francesca Lia Block

Charlotte Emerson has it all.  Beauty, wealth, her "health"...and all the time in the world.  That's probably the biggest plus in being what she is....a vampire.  Or is it?  Once upon a time, Charlotte was afterall, human.  She had a mother and father just like you and me.  Additionally, she had a brother, Charles, whom she loved and adored.  They were least until his untimely death.  Unable to fully cope with his passing, Ms. Emerson treads the darkened waters of her life with unsteady hands.  Fast forward one year and we find Charlotte in attendance at a costume ball.  During this party, she meets a young man by the name of William Stone Elliot.  He is charming, handsome, and....undead.  She doesn't make this realization right away, but once discovered she is unable to pull away from his charms as well as the offering for an escape from the life she's been left. 

With unnatural eternal life, one does not always get what they bargained for and now Charlotte is trapped with her sadness and regret for all time...or so she believes.  Many many years later, she finds refuge in a California estate and becomes fast friends despite her best efforts with Emil Rossdale.  She has a rather sordid past through no fault of her own and like her, seeks an escape from that dreaded time.  Can Charlotte offer that escape to her?  What of Emily's boyfriend Jared Dorian Pierce?  Although doting on the outside, there seems to be a spark of something yet to be every time he looks at Charlotte.  Many questions abound....but what will the outcome be?

Offering a new spin (well, at least to this reader) on the classic vampire novel, author Francesca Lia Block enters into ground as yet untested by allowing her vampires the possibility of becoming human once again.  Logically speaking, not quite sure how that could happen (although I know when speaking logicially vampires should probably not be the subject, but just go with me here) as vampires are "undead" creatures (some more dreamy than others....) of the night void of blood, heart and (in most cases, assumed) soul.  Humans are the exact opposite (for the most part...with a few rare exceptions).  How does one go from "undead" to "undead-no-more"?  A massive blood transfusion?  A body transplant?  Stepping back into the world of pure fantasy, her idea works.  Even if it may seem rather odd, I found it to be a nice unexpected twist to the story.  (nope, not gonna tell you if one of them does or doesn't go through have to read it for yourself!)

On a side note, I must say that the attendance to descriptions and details is rather interesting as well.  It seems that the author utilizes them quite frequently to instill a connection within the story to time, place and character.  The use of color often makes even the feelings of the moment stronger than it would have been without...KUDOS on that!  Now on to the downside (I promise to be nice, but I must mention)....

This is a young adult novel.  Grant it I am not the one that decides what can or can not be in a book of this genre, however I did find a few things that kept jolting me in this book.  First of all, I was totally drawn to this book by both the cover and reviews....a first in my experience.  Second, I really wanted to love this story.  (Ever have that when the title, cover, and hype create this vision of a book you will love?)  Now, don't get me wrong, I did LIKE the story, but not's why.  Every time the storyline kept drawing me in, I was fished right back out by some of the discussions.  (What do I mean?  Hang on to your hat...okay, maybe just pull it down a little...) 

Let's see, there's rape and sexual activity as well as (in my humble opinion) a few too many scenes of nakedness....and then there's the part where words worked against the scene.  When choosing to list body parts (we're not talking the dismembered zombie kind...we're talking more adult) in a young adult book (heck, even in some adult ones, unless they are romance of course), my own head tells me to steer clear of the more "dirty" variety.  (like saying her chest instead of her t***....see what I mean?)  Now I do realize young people today are exposed to such things at an earlier age, it's just I would hesitate to give this to a younger teen. 

Bottom line for me:
Storyline = fair to good
Ending = definitely an interesting twist
Content = warning for younger readers

Whew!  See, now that wasn't so bad was it?  As always, this is only one readers opinion.  I do encourage you to form your own as well as one person's "good" can be another person's "great".  (FYI...The link embedded in the book title near the top of this post directs you to their "browse inside" feature.)

ARC received for review courtesy of Jana at Harper Collins!  (Thanks!)  For more Young Adult titles from this fantastic group, check out their site or follow on Twitter.  (Again, who ISN'T on there?)

Let's ponder for a moment the idea of immortality.  If you would were to live forever, what is the one place that would top your MUST SEE list?  Why?  If you have more than one top answer, feel free to add those too! 

Mine would be Italy.  Would love to see the beautiful countryside, the friendly faces, and the food!  =0)

Until next time....happy reading!


1stdaughter said...

I would love to see Ireland, but I've always wanted to go there. Something about the green rolling landscapes from too many viewings of Braveheart have probably had quite an influence on my preference.

And I think it's funny the topic of what should and should not be in YA novels. I question that every time I pick up one anymore. There are so many good quality YA novels without the heavy adult themes that it's hard to want to suggest something like this to my own daughter in years from now. Although, that doesn't mean she won't want to read it when she's a little more mature.

Thanks for the review! I love your writing, it makes it so easy.

Yunaleska said...

Brilliant review - I'm eager to learn what does happen in the end. Love how you write about content.

I'd love to see Alaska. I have a fascination with it at the moment.

....Petty Witter said...

Great review. There seem to be so many vampire books around at the moment, I wonder why they, all of a sudden, seem to be so popular?

Egypt - it would have to be Egypt and better still if I could go back in time and visit Egypt at the time of the pharoahs.

okbolover said...

What a great review. I think I have this on my to read list somewhere :)

I'd probably go anywhere in Europe and just look at every museum I can find. I love museums. :)

Juju at Tales of said...

Fab review. I like to be forewarned of objectionable material. Thank you.

If was a a vamp I'd party in to the wee hours at Venice's Carnival.

GMR said...

1stdaughter: LOL. Yes, Braveheart did for Ireland, what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand. (ooh, I want to go there too!) Definitely agree...the avoidance of the heavy stuff is part of what makes them a fun reading romp. Thanks for the kind words!

Yunaleska: Thanks! Just trying to shed light on some things that you may want to be aware of prior to reading. Alaska sounds fabulous too...just maybe not in the summer. I hear they have HUGE mosquitos.

Petty Witter: You can thank the mega popular book series and movies for the uprising (in my opinion). Once one catches fire, it becomes a frenzy. Nice choice on travel choice! I actually bought a book to learn how to read hierogylphics after we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Luxor. (hey, I wanted to know what the "writing" on the wall said!) =0)

okbolover: Welcome aboard! Thanks for visiting and the kind words! Europe is (suppose to be) a fabulous place. Haven't been myself, but would love to one day ***daydreaming***

Juju: Your welcome! Happy to help. Ooh, the carnival sounds intriguing...must seek more details now....

Melanie said...

I've yet to read a book about vampires other than the Twilight Saga. I need to work on that. I just get confused between the different rules between each book. This one does sound interesting, though. Especially the becoming human again part.

As for me, I'd like to go to Australia. I'm not sure why, but I've always been a bit fascinated.

GMR said...

Melanie: Yep..Twilight was my first vampire book as well. I've seen Dracula (movie) and such, but never read them. The rules for each are a bit disorienting at first, but definitely offer a new perspective on the classic of old. Oh, and Australia would be great...the kangaroos, the outback...sounds like an adventure mate! (sorry, couldn't resist)

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