Thursday, August 18, 2011

Drink, Slay, Love - Sarah Beth Durst

Title: Drink, Slay, Love
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster), September 13, 2011 (Hardcover) (Review copy is an ARC from the publisher)
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: August 11, 2011
Finished: August 18, 2011

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

Sarah Beth Durst is one of my favourite YA authors. I've read her more recent books Ice and Enchanted Ivy (Ice which I liked with some reservations and Enchanted Ivy I just loved), and knew she was one of those authors that I would just read anything they wrote. When I found out what her new book was about, I was kind of hesitant, mainly because it was a vampire story, and vampire stories automatically seem cliched to me now (thank you Twilight). However; Drink, Slay, Love pleasantly surprised me in a few areas and reassured me that it was not your average YA vampire book.

Pearl comes from a prominent vampire family who's hosting a once-every-hundred-year feast for the Vampire King of New England, which to say the least is a big deal. At the same time, Pearl is being stalked and gets staked by a unicorn...yup, a unicorn. After surviving said attempted murder by the unicorn, Pearl discovers that she can walk around in daylight without being burned to a crisp. In response, her family assigns her the task of finding a food source for the feast...requiring her to attend human high school, which makes Pearl begin to see humans as more than just a food source. Drink, Slay, Love portrays vampires in a more traditional sense: gritty, cruel, bloodthirsty (forgive the bad pun); and Pearl only deviates from this when she develops a conscience. This portrayal was refreshing compared to the sparkly, almost too-human way that vampires are portrayed in YA novels today, I grew up with vampires being frightening, and I expect vampire characters to invoke fear, or at least be bad-ass, not sparkle like cheap glitter makeup. Aside from the obvious digs at Twilight in the book and the traditional portrayal of vampire characters, I also liked that although it did include a romance, the supernatural character was female and the romantic interest (Evan) was human. So often I find the female characters are put in a passive role in supernatural romances by being the human in the relationship, but Pearl is the opposite: spunky and hard-edged with a chip on her shoulder, but still vulnerable in her own way (just not physically so) due to her changing mental perspective on humans. I also love how it shows Pearl transitioning to the world of high school, it's like watching a documentary about an anthropologist studying indigenous peoples in some remote land, that's how Pearl analyzes and adjusts to the human world.

One downside of the book for me was its pacing. Things dragged on and didn't happen nearly fast enough for me, although they did pick up, but not until past the midpoint. I had real issues sustaining my reading for this reason, but granted I have pregnancy-induced brain-drain, so it could be just me.

Not my favourite book by this author, but definitely worth the read. It's a unique vampire novel, which is hard to pull off in YA these days, which I think alone makes it worth reading.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love it. The fact that the face is hidden so you can only see the lips with blood-red lipstick, and the blood in the red bottle with the straw is a nice touch.

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