YA review: Boys That Bite by Mari Mancusi

This is my fourth Gothic Reading Challenge book.

I read a review of this book on one of the blogs I subscribe to through my blog feed or one of the blogs I follow on Blogger, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one, so I don’t know who to thank for the recommendation. It was definitely a blog that mostly focuses on young adult fiction, urban fantasy or romance (or any combination thereof), which narrows it down a bit, but not enough for me to go to the trouble of checking which one it was.

When I came across this book on one of my random trawls through the public library the title looked familiar and I recognised the story and remembered it had got a good review, so I checked it out and took it home with me to read.

Genre: YA urban fantasy
Year of publication: 2006
No. in series: 1
Setting & time: New Hampshire (I don’t recall seeing a town name), USA; contemporary.

Identical twins Rayne and Sunny McDonald are polar opposites in everything except looks. Goth Rayne has decided to make her dream of living forever come true and has been undergoing a strict training course to prepare her for becoming a vampire. The vamp chosen to turn her is the delectable Magnus, second-in-command to the leader of the local vampire coven, who is to become her blood mate and companion for eternity.

On the night he is to turn her she takes her identical twin Sunny with her to the rendezvous and Magnus makes a mistake and bites the wrong sister. The vivacious Sunny has absolutely no interest in being a vampire and did, in fact, not believe they existed until Magnus bit her. He is as distraught as she is, and discovers that Sunny’s transformation into a vampire can be reversed. Together they seek out the cure, but love intervenes and Sunny has to make a tough decision.

One of the reasons I don’t read a lot of YA fiction is that I have often found it to be too full of pain, ugliness, despair, horror and angst for my tastes. This book, however, is like reading a story from the Buffyverse narrated by Mia from The Princess Diaries. The narrator, Sunny, is a typical teenage girl with typical teenage concerns: her appearance, her crush on the cutest boy in school, her grades and the prom. She isn’t exactly shallow, but just believably self-centered like all teenagers. She makes an endearing and believable conflicted narrator, albeit one quite capable of delivering a sarcastic punchline or two when needed.

Like in Buffy, there is a slayer, one girl in every generation, etc., but in this case the focus is on the vampires, and unlike the Buffy vamps, they are good guys. They operate under strict rules, pay their “donors” for their services, and keep a low profile. Magnus is a typically hot romance hero, but is sawed by several flaws from being a total pain-in-the-neck Gary Stu. The story is not all sweetness and roses – there is just enough angst to make it interesting but not a lot of pain or ugliness. Most of all it is funny and takes the piss out of the Buffy stories in an affectionate way. All in all, quite an enjoyable gothic-lite read. 3 stars.

I am now reading the sequel, Stake That, in which Rayne becomes a slayer.


George said…
My wife is reading Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAME trilogy which is marketed here as YA, but also appeals to adult readers. Clearly, the series has some gothic elements. And a movie is in the works, too.

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