Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Vampire Kisses
Author: Ellen Schreiber
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 5th, 2003
Pages: 208 pages

Raven lives in "Dullsville," where nothing ever happens. Until now...

The mansion on top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people- especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires?

Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own life and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.


I warn you now that this is in no way a fair review. This book and the three that follow it changed my life when I was thirteen and even though I have come to realize almost every one of its flaws, I still love it. Another series in this situation might become the bane of my existence, but not this book because of two reasons: 1) they're fluffy reads that are never meant to be taken seriously and 2) I owe too much to it.

Goth girl Raven Madison has lived in boring old "Dullsville" all her life as an outcast, being the only girl in town that's not into khaki and pastel colors. On her sixteenth birthday, a family moves into the mansion on Benson Hill that Raven has always regarded as her "Barbie Dream House" and as rumors go around that the elusive family is one of vampires, Raven's curiosity is piqued. She's wanted to become a vampire her entire life and after meeting the son of this "vampire" family, the handsome Alexander Sterling, she finds herself attracted to him. Could he and his family truly be creatures of the night or is it but a rumor? She's willing to risk her relationship with the one guy she can connect with to find out the truth.

This book is cheesy and silly and not good at all, but I still love it. Raven is highly stereotypical, both as a Goth and as a teenager, but in rare moments, she rings true as a teenage girl instead of a stereotype. Those little moments make her one of the most realistic teenage portrayals I've read and trust me, I've read a lot of them. The way Dullsville (which is what the town is called throughout the entire novel; you never find out the town's actual name) is shown, as a small town where rumors spread quickly and different is never a good thing to them, is also fairly true. I'm a big city girl, but both of my parents grew up in small towns and they've described small town life to me numerous times.

Close to the end of this book, Raven's motive for dating Alexander and first meeting him are exposed and they break up, but eventually get back together. I found this very sweet, in a strange way. Their relationship started under partway false pretenses, but as they got to know each other better over time, genuine feelings for each other developed. These feelings proved to be so strong that even when everyone found out that Raven originally started dating Alexander to find out whether or not he was a vampire (which would permanently end most relationships), they still care so much about each other that they disregard that and get back together. That appeals the little romantic in my soul, you know?

I wish I didn't have the point out the flaws because I really don't mind them, but not even my totally-unfair review is allowed to leave them out. No amount of love could make me forget the flaws, though I can certainly overlook them.

Raven is a Mary Sue- specifically, a Gothic Sue. For her, being Gothic means wearing lots and lots of black, being an outcast from society because she's not like them, hating preppy people, and wanting to become a vampire, but that's not what being Gothic is about at all. It's... I don't know how to explain it. Follow this link and this link to some websites that I feel gave good explanations about the Gothic culture. Back on subject, everything ends up in Raven's favor no matter what and when she screws up (which is hardly ever because everything goes right for her), people forgive her easily. She can do no wrong.

The things this girl gets away with amazes me. She breaks into the Benson Hill mansion that belongs to Alexander's family multiple times, but Raven never gets in trouble for it, even when Alexander freaking catches her in the act! He asks her about it multiple times, but he never gets an answer and eventually gives up. I mentioned further up about how Raven and Alexander's relationship began with her wish to figure out whether or not he was a vampire and even after that motive was exposed, they still ended up together. That's both a good thing and a bad one. Personally, if I find out a guy's got a hidden motive for dating me, he's gone and never coming back, even if I have genuine feelings for him and he has the same for me. There are couples out there, I'm sure, who were in a situation like Alexander and Raven's and are still together, but I imagine most people would make a decision like my hypothetical one.

In addition, most of the characters in this book are flat and two-dimensional, if not all of them, and there is little depth to the story. Raven can be shallow like a kiddy pool. This novel pains some negative things such as breaking into someone else's occupied home in a somewhat positive light. I'm kind of surprised that this book is categorized as "young adult," which is labeled as ages 12-18; I would peg it more in the 9-12 range at best. I probably wouldn't let a nine-year-old handle this book, though.

This series has a tiny problem with continuity. Back when I read this book for the first time, Trevor Mitchell had blonde hair and blue eyes. In the sequel Vampire Kisses 2: Kissing Coffins, he has green eyes and they stay green for the rest of the series. The omnibus version that I'm reading and that contains the first three books of the series corrects most mentions to Trevor having blue eyes in the first book, but not all of them. I still found a few and corrected them myself. I don't count off for this and you shouldn't either; that's just something that annoyed the inner editor somewhat.

A year ago, I would have given this book five stars because of my strange, defiant love of it. Then my house got broken into and I could no longer disregard my disapproval when Raven broke into Alexander's house multiple times. Despite that, this series is one of my all-time favorites and I recommend it with the warning of blatant stereotypes, Mary Sues, prep hate, and general stupidity.

4 stars!