Saturday, October 17, 2009

Night Road
By A. M. Jenkins

After a century of living solitarily on the road, Cole, a hemovore (a human who feeds exclusively on blood; not to be confused with the fictional vampire) or “heme," still resembles his eighteen year old self but is known in the heme community for being observant, meticulous, and controlled. He is called back to the Building, an apartment/hotel for hemes in Manhattan owned by Johnny, Cole’s maker. He is informally introduced to newly turned heme Gordon, who really is eighteen years old and is also known as the Accident by the occupants of the Building due to the reason he was turned and his un-heme like behavior. The following evening Cole is told he has been called back to the Building to join Gordon and Sandor, Gordon’s maker and an old friend of Cole’s, on the road, teaching Gordon how to sever his old human life from his new heme one including the proper feeding technique on "omnis" (omnivores, or humans), how to avoid the Thirst with frequent restricted feedings, and avoiding the sun. During the trip, teaching Gordon the heme lifestyle helps Cole to confront the darkness of his own past that he has been keeping tucked away. Jenkins steps away from the typical romance and violence that takes center stage in other vampire stories and focuses instead on what life is and should be like for vampires... sorry, hemes, both old and experienced and new and inexperienced, in a thought provoking style that is far from boring. In the words of author Robert Lipsyte from the dust jacket “read this as a tense thriller about vampires on a road trip, or read it as a metaphorical tour de force about a boy becoming a man. But read it!”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Faust
By Daniel and Dina Nayeri
Series: First in the Another series

When five adopted orphans, Victoria, Christian, BicĂ©, Belle, and Valentin, along with their beautiful but strange governess, Madame Vileroy, make an impressive entrance at the exclusive Christmas party for Marlowe School in Manhattan tension between the orphans and the students begin and carry over to the new semester. Using “gifts” given to them from Vileroy – the ability to read the inner dialogue of others, manipulate time, beautiful looks, and stealing other’s skills and strengths – the orphans pursue their own greedy obsessions, from sports to debate and writing tournaments to class president elections, no matter what it costs them during the process; and in the case of Madame Vileroy, the cost could be permanent. Brother and sister writing team bring a modern day re-imagining of the classic Doctor Faustus bargaining story. Though the plot may seem a bit repetitive at times as the orphans use their “gifts” to pursue their various obsessions during the semester at Marlowe, the last few chapters contain several surprises that are unpredictable (except for the “main” reveal for readers familiar with the original story) but were always under the surface of previous events that may cause the reader to wonder how they did not see the connection before. While the Another series plans to re-imagine classic works of literature, given the conclusion to this first installment, it is not yet seen by this reader if the series will include the same characters (maybe a minor character’s story will be continued) or will be a series of “stand alone” volumes with different characters (think R. L. Stine's Goosebumps); though, if the same characters are used for the series, this reader predicts Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown may get the Another treatment.