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Monday, October 12, 2009

'Blue Bloods' by Melissa De La Cruz

From the BLURB:

Schuyler Van Alen is a freshman at the prestigious Duchesne School. A loner by nature, she finds her life thrown into turmoil when she turns 15. Suddenly she is allergic to the sun, craves raw food, and if she cuts herself, her blood is blue. Schuyler has no idea what is happening to her. As more and more curious things happen, Schuyler must confront her family and friends to discover the truth behind her blue blood. But there are bigger problems soon to be faced. When a girl in school is found dead, with mysterious bite marks on her neck, Schuyler is more confused than ever about her heritage…and her destiny.

This is the first book in Melissa De La Cruz’s YA vampire series ‘Blue Bloods’. The story is Gossip Girl meets Vampire Academy, with a fantastic premise. De La Cruz has story-mapped a very different vampire mythology based around the Roanoke Colony. Settled in the Virginia Colony in the late 16th century, there are many urban legends surrounding the Roanoke colony whose inhabitants disappeared shortly after settlement. ‘Blue Bloods’ is De La Cruz’s own take on what happened to that disappearing colony, namely that they were a group of vampires.

De La Cruz’s vampire mythology is unique, detailed, and actually kind of plausible. Based around the idea of ‘Regenerative Memory Syndrome’ – whereby vampires live in one-hundred year cycles, after which their body dies but their memories and ‘soul’ live on to be regenerated in another lifespan. It gives whole new meaning to déjà vu.

Despite having a great premise and wonderful vampire back-story, De La Cruz’s novel suffers from hasty explanations and unnecessary narration.

‘Blue Bloods’ has three main narrators. Schuyler Van Alen is the Duchesne School outcast – she wears baggy op-shop clothes, is stick-thin with blue/black hair and she refuses to conform to the expectations of Queen Bee Mimi Force. Mimi is the other narrator; she’s a cutthroat mean girl with an unhealthy obsession over her brother, Jack; her new best friend describes Mimi as a ‘beautiful monster’. Bliss Llewyn is the third narrator; she is new money from Texas, and Mimi’s reluctant minion.

Schuyler is very much a Mary-Sue character. Despite being the school outcast, De La Cruz can’t help pointing out her stunning good looks. So beautiful is Schuyler (described by a model scout as being the next Kate Moss!) that at the age of 15 she lands a Time Square billboard for a new range of denim jeans du jour. Gag.

Mimi is the real stand out character. Villains are so much scarier when they closely resemble real life, and everyone has crossed paths with a mean girl at least once. Reading about Mimi’s blessed life is so fascinatingly egocentric that it makes for a great read. The same reason Blair Waldorf’s ‘Gossip Girl’ character is begrudgingly beloved, is the same reason Mimi’s POV is so interesting to read.

The narration that doesn’t flow is Bliss’s. The novel would have worked a lot better if we were given just Schuyler and Mimi’s opposing narrations – light and dark, good and evil. Throwing Bliss’s words into the mix makes the narration a bit clunky, because Bliss is neither a total goody two-shoes like Schuyler, nor a bully like Mimi – she’s middle of the road and boring.

‘Blue Bloods’ fell flat for me mostly because De La Cruz rushed the explanations and did a slap-dash conclusion.

Around about page 144 (roughly half-way through) the entire vampire explanation is given to the chosen Duchesne students by having them attend a lecture. Despite the fact that until this point Bliss and Schuyler have been experiencing strange flash-backs to past lives, have noticed their veins becoming darker and are developing an appetite for raw meat, the big reveal is given in a student/lecture setting. Boring!

I can’t give too much away, but the murder mystery running throughout the book is also hastily dealt with, making for an entirely unsatisfying ending.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. The vampire mythology is fantastic and highly original, it’s just a shame that De La Cruz couldn’t deliver the goods with plot and narration.

I probably won’t bother reading the rest of this series.

2/5

3 comments:

  1. I think I liked this one a bit more than you did but I totally agree - I loved her explanation for the vampire race and her tie in to Plymouth etc..and the ending was rushed and felt a bit off. But I was intrigued by Mimi and Jack and want to know how their relationship turns out.

    That being said, I read this awhile ago and never got the second book. One day though! :)

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  2. I haven't read this one yet. While I really liked VA, I thought the House of Night series was just okay and haven't really wanted to read all the "vampire high school" books out there. I'll probably skip this one.

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  3. The thing is, once you've read Ricelle Mead's 'Vampire Academy' and Rachel Caine's 'Morganville Vampires' - the bar is set pretty darn high. Other teen vampire books just don't cut it.

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