This is my first official guest review on the NextRead and I’m excited as I’ve roped in a lover of YA books to help me tackle my growing pile of YA books. I know a lot of people enjoy them and I’m hoping to bring you the occasional guest review so you can see what’s bringing in younger readers into the genre as well as books that you want to read too.
I have been known to pick up the odd YA book but not that often so I’m looking forward to seeing what they choose from the pile of ten or so I’ve given them.
I’ll let them introduce themselves:
I’m Liz Kedge and I’m a 20-something reader. I read pretty much anything with words on it but given my choice, I tend to gravitate toward young adult science fiction and fantasy. I’m a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones and Naomi Novik.
And here is her first review:
Title: Blue Bloods
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Release: Out Now
They’re young, fabulous and fanged and they rule Manhattan from the trendy uptown clubs to the downtown boutiques. Fifteen-year-old Schuyler Van Alen has never quite fit in at her exclusive prep school – she’s more of a vintage than a Versace girl – but that’s all about to change… Because Schuyler has just found out she’s a Blue Blood. The Blue Bloods are the city’s glamorous and secret vampire elite. They’re young, beautiful and powerful. But now they’re being murdered. And Schuyler must find out who – or what – is behind it before she’s next.
From the synopsis I was expecting this to be told entirely from Schuyler’s point of view, focusing on her move from outsider to insider, or possibly the move of the insiders to something more akin to her outsider perspective (perhaps I have been watching too much Glee) but this was not the case. Instead, we got various pieces of story from various perspectives, which worked both for and against this book. It worked well in that there were enough interesting people and different story arcs to keep the story moving, and it also worked well in building up suspense, which is always important in a whodunit. It also helped to make the story more complex, because enough time was given to enough other people that Schuyler didn’t necessarily feel like the main character.
Where it didn’t work well is in the language. There is an awful lot of ‘tell’ as opposed to ‘show’ in this book, and what we are told is mostly about physical appearance. Schuyler "was startlingly pretty, with a sweet, heart-shaped face; a perfectly upturned nose; and soft, milky skin – but there was something almost insubstantial about her beauty. […] It didn’t help that she was painfully shy and kept to herself, because then they just thought she was stuck up, which she wasn’t. She was just shy." This follows on from two paragraphs talking about her outfit: long black cardigan with holes in each elbow, smells like rosewater and decay because she bought it in a thrift store, sheer black t-shirt worn over…well, you get the picture. The only thing we are not told in this particular scene is what brand of underwear she’s wearing. Although in this book we are not told which brand Schuyler generally favours, I am sure we will be told later in the series as we are told for Bliss (more on her later). A certain amount of detail is good, when it comes naturally and furthers the plot, but…after the first description of a character the audience generally has an idea of the type of clothing they favour and therefore, by Hollywood-style extension, the sort of person they are. What the viewpoint switching facilitated was the need to constantly give us complete run-downs on everything that everyone ever wore, and for a reader like me who is completely indifferent to clothing that gets wearing after a while.
Bliss Llewelyn functions as a sort of parallel to Schuyler. She’s an outsider because she’s from Texas, rather than because she’s allegedly eccentric. She falls in with the popular crowd but doesn’t like the way queen bee Mimi likes to control everyone and rebels by getting involved with a boy Mimi doesn’t approve of. There is quite a good first kiss here, and a good scene which is a very effective introduction to the flashbacks to previous lives experienced by the Blue Bloods when they are just coming into their powers. I liked Bliss, and I was always pleased when the book was from her point of view. Bliss was at least as concerned with finding the murderer as Schuyler was, possibly more so at the beginning as the first victim was one of Mimi’s crowd.
The eventual revelation of the murderer was somewhat of an anticlimax. Although both Bliss and Schuyler had individually found out a possible reason, relating to this history of vampires. I can’t really say any more, but the eventual killer turned out to be being mind-controlled rather than acting in their own right, and the ending felt a bit rushed.
I actually really enjoyed this book. It had a nice sense of fun, the characters was interesting and the story worked well. Partly because of the changing viewpoint, the book was varied. There wasn’t too much shopping, the fabulousness was generally amusing rather than aggravating and it was very readable. Occasionally, the murder mystery seemed to take a back seat, but it was fairly obvious from the beginning that this would be the case. I’m glad that I read this book, though I probably wouldn’t reread it, and while I’d read the next book in the series if it came my way, I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to seek it out.