Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even - Julie Kenner

The Good Ghoul’s Guide to Getting Even
Julie Kenner
Berkley Jam

Young Adult / Vampire

So you think working on your college applications sucks? Try doing it when you’re dead. Colleges, especially competitive film schools, like the one Beth Frasier dreams of attending, don’t make a habit of letting the dead matriculate. Not even when they call themselves life-challenged. Did I mention that Beth is now a vampire? Not her choice, trust me. Being a vampire makes attending high school classes during the day a bit of a problem, too, since one ray of sunlight will literally burn her to a crisp. And here’s something I bet you didn’t know: if you’re having a bad hair day when you get turned into a vampire? You’re stuck with it. Forever. Not to mention the fact that you’ll never be able to eat chocolate again. Or the disgusting and compulsive craving for human blood.

Just a few days ago, Beth was your average junior in high school. A girl with the highest GPA in her class, and early acceptance to a couple of in-state schools (fallbacks, but she hasn’t let the parents in on that little fact yet.) A few short days ago, Beth thought her biggest problem was adding another “team player” extra-curricular activity to her applications. If she wants to get into that film school, or any school at all, she needs to figure out how to get un-undead, fast. Since she has not fed from a human, she can regain her mortality. Of course, there are several hurdles to jump before that can happen, but Beth is nothing if not determined. And if, in the process, she can have her revenge on Stephen Wills, the guy she was crushing on, and trusted, and who turned her into a creature of the night? Well, so much the better.

This is the first in a promising new series. Yes, it does sound a bit like a Buffy riff, and the author acknowledges that by referencing the show a few times. Beth’s reactions to various situations, including her new vampy nature, seem quite realistic. She’s angry, she’s scared, and she spends time trying to figure out how to cope with the change while still trying to appear to lead her normal life. She’s helped by her best friend, Jenny, who is understandably freaked out at first, but rises to the occasion as only your best friend would. And she gets help from an unexpected source, too. Best of all, instead of falling apart and hiding, she decides to take action, and uses her smarts to try and fix the situation.

While the book deals with vampires, it’s not graphic or terribly scary. If you think Buffy, you’ll have the right tone. There are some interesting plot developments, a couple of good twists I didn’t see coming, and while this isn’t a cliffhanger ending, it’s clearly left open for the next book, coming out later this year. This novel was fun, entertaining, and a very fast read. I’ll be happy to follow Beth through future installments.

Rating: 8
April 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21391-9 (paperback)


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