Feb 1, 2010

The Reformed Vampire Support Group - Book Review

The Reformed Vampire Support Group
by Catherine Jinks
Harcourt, April, 2010  (YA)

Publisher: 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.

PVN: [Setting is Sydney, Australia]

The Reformed Vampire Support Group meets every Tuesday evening at St Agnes Roman Catholic Church. The group leader, Sanford, became a vampire early in the last century. He has gathered this small group with the idea of using his extensive knowledge to help them adjust to being vampires, and to accomplish this without ever having to harm a human.

The rector of the church, Father Ramon a kindly mortal priest, helps out during daylight hours when mortal business must be attended to.

Nina Harrison, a vampire turned at 15, narrates this humorous engaging tale. Being a vampires is not easy. It can be deadly dull. Sanford forbids them to ever go out. The risk that they might be overcome with blood lust is too great, he fears. All survive on supplements prepared by Sanford plus the blood of one guinea pig per day.

Nina lives with her mum, spending most of her time in her room reading or watching TV. Still she finds a creative way to amuse herself by writing the adventures of Zadia Bloodstone, "a heroic crime fighting vampire who preyed only on lowlife scum."

Zadia proves to be the perfect alter ego for Nina. When one of their group goes missing they eventually find what's left of him inside his coffin (he's a traditionalist). All that remains are ashes arranged in a vaguely humanoid shape. A vampire killer is at large! He (or she)must be tracked down, not to kill of course, but to convince that vampires mean humans no harm. After years of insular living the group's analytical skills are somewhat diminished, but in their own bumbling way they begin the necessary research to find the slayer.

Nina happens to be one of those who makes first contact. With her knees knocking and her normal cowardly nature to the fore, Nina silently envisions Zadia, imagining what such a heroine would do. And it works! While Nina doesn't exactly turn into Wonder Woman she comes pretty darn close, even saving the day.

The cast of characters, immortal or otherwise, are diverse and completely believable. Their many misadventures are often cause for hilarious moments. When I picked up this book at B&N I was attracted by the title, and when I opened the book I was captured from the first sentence. Although published as a YA books it's really one that would appeal to all ages.


Sarah said...

Great review! This sounds like a really fun read & has been added to my wish list! Thanks for the recommendation :o)

Patricia Altner said...

Thanks, Sarah

I really enjoyed this book. Hope you do as well!

Cecilia H. said...

I read this one a few months ago and pretty much had the same thoughts about the story as you related in your review...which was great, by the way. This is a different tweek on the vampire story...vampires are not these sexy, hotties that draw everyone to them...in "The Reformed Vampire Support Group" vampires have a disease...they look and feel like it, too. This is a great read and I look forward to reading more from this author. I did feel sorry for the guinea pigs, though...

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Cecilia

Excellent summation! And I agree, those poor guinea pigs :(