an entertainer for all ages
WHAT I LOVED:
AJ is your average kid and doesn’t have anything exciting going on in his life, but he’s got a serious crush on his classmate Nia. His efforts to win her affection by pretending to be a vampire since she says herself she’s obsessed with the creatures are utterly adorkable and also significantly better than my childhood attempts to get my crushes to like me. You really don’t wanna know what kind of stuff I did.
Naturally, things go wrong. Nia is a vampire slayer and is looking to slay him, his best friends get mad at him, and his new teacher is more of an oddball than AJ himself is. Though AJ is the main character of the book, Nia is the shining star of it all. Making the vampire slayer a butt-kicking, complex black girl is downright revolutionary among notoriously white vampire stories (and I’m not talking out my rear here, I read most of the YA vampire books and they were really white).
If this had been out when I was in middle school and brand-new to both reading and vampires, I would have looooooooooved Fake Blood. I still like it plenty and particularly enjoyed the simple, whimsical illustration style.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
The novel is hilarious too, but a great deal of references and humor are going to be lost on the kids the book is intended for. Everywhere you look, there’s a reference to and/or joke about either Twilight or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, like AJ reading the Twilight knockoff and commenting that “they’re not even in Transylvania!” when he gets to the prismatic vampires. Jokes about the most famous YA vampire book are out of style now and the Buffy ones are years older than that! Not to mention they’re beating a dead horse.
If adults read this book, like parents with their kids, the grown-ups are going to get all those jokes and love it. The thing is that this book isn’t for them and all the jokes catering to them feel out of place.
Fake Blood is an entertainer for all ages and if the kids feel up to reading YA books after this, Whitney Gardner’s own YA books carry the same kind of humor, Chaotic Good particularly so. There’s no shame in someone reading books meant for an older or younger audience than them as long as they enjoy and understand what they’re reading!