Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: The Reformed Vampire Support Group

The Reformed Vampire Support Group

By: Catherine Jinks
Publication Date: April 20, 2009
Published by: Harcourt Childrens Books
Hardcover: 352 pages
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Think vampires are romantic, sexy, and powerful? Think again. Vampires are dead. And unless they want to end up staked, they have to give up fanging people, admit their addiction, join a support group, and reform themselves.

Nina Harrison, fanged at fifteen and still living with her mother, hates the Reformed Vampire Support Group meetings every Tuesday night. Even if she does appreciate Dave, who was in a punk band when he was alive, nothing exciting ever happens. That is, until one of group members is mysteriously destroyed by a silver bullet. With Nina (determined to prove that vamps aren't useless or weak) and Dave (secretly in love with Nina) at the helm, the misfit vampires soon band together to track down the hunter, save a werewolf, and keep the world safe from the likes of themselves.

The perfect anecdote to slick vampire novels, this murder-mystery comedy of errors will thrill fans of Evil Genius.

  This book follows one teen aged vampire and the other vampires in the reformed vampire support group, an odd collection of young and old vamps trying to mend their bloodthirsty ways by not feeding on humans.  Throw in a human Catholic priest, a kidnapped werewolf, and one of their vampire friends getting staked, and you've got a murder mystery surprisingly rife with wit, character and charm...and guinea pigs.

Why I read this book:  I'd never heard of the book or the author.  This is another case when I didn't have a ton of books from the library and grabbed an unknown one off the shelf.  Also, the title and odd bunch of characters on the cover is what did it for me.

Think vampires are powerfully dark and beautiful immortal creatures?  Or maybe you prefer the soulless monsters approach?  Guess again.  These are sickly, fragile, light-sensitive, guinea pig-eating-vampires.  That's right.  Guinea pigs. (Bleh!)

The books is told from the perspective of Nina Harrison who has been fifteen years old since 1973.   She lives with her aging mother and attends a reformed vampire support group every Tuesday night for a group therapy session.  That said, I don't envy this group in the least.  Yes, they are immortal and never age.  But they are also quite feeble and are vulnerable to light. Even artificial light.  Sunglasses are a must in their world.  Without them, headlights from an oncoming car can cause their eyes to hemorrhage.  No one drives with the exception of Dave and of course Father Ramon (human priest).  And they abstain from eating humans.  No blood bags, or bears or deer here though.  Nope, these vampires are thinking long term - guinea pigs.  One member of the group breeds them and each member of the reformed vampire support group is allotted one guinea pig per day. 

This quote from the book says it all...

"The plain fact is, I can't do anything much. That's part of the problem. Vampires are meant to be so glamorous and powerful, but I'm here to inform you that being a vampire is nothing like that. Not one bit. On the contrary, it's like being stuck indoors with the flu watching daytime television, forever and ever."

This isn't a book I would rave about to my friends or family.  It's been a while since I've read anything by an Australian author, so the rhetoric and locations where the book took place was a nice change.  And the dynamic between the odd bunch of vampires thrown together is a lot like a family.  They may gripe and bitch and moan but it's clear how much their care for one another.  The complaining did get a bit old, the plot moved along enough to keep me interested.

There's plenty of wit and charm to go around and I found myself laughing out loud at a few parts.  At first it was difficult to feel invested in Nina because she complained ALL THE TIME.  She does experience growth (thankfully!) and by the end of the book it was clear her character had become more of a leader in the group.  This was a light and funny supernatural read with more heart than expected. I think I would definitely consider reading other works by Catherine Jinks.

Rating: 3

Other Memorable Quotes
“Horace, however, had arrayed himself in a Gothic assortment of crushed velvet, black satin, and patent leather that shouldn't have been allowed in my view. He might as well have I AM A VAMPIRE embroidered across the front of his watered-silk waistcoat. An outfit like that is going to get him staked one of these days; it's exactly what Boris Karloff would have worn, if he had joined the cast of Rocky Horror Motion Picture Show.”

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