Senior Year Bites ******
written by Julie Campbell
FIRST - before anything else, check out this fantastic cover. The girl LOOKs like a teen-vamp, complete with ipod and gum bubble. Yep. She's a teen! I love it. The cover artist is S.N. Holl The link takes you to Devian Art, a pretty fun website that has all kinds of art...(by deviants! just kidding! LOL)
A few years ago I "met" this young woman when she responded to one of my posts about Banned Book Week.
Later, I found out that she writes. Really Writes - not the type of writing that reads like a fourth grader trying to write a scary story either - NOPE. Julie Campbell writes some seriously good fiction. She writes a lot. She writes books about vampires, books in the fantasy realm and books about horses. Right at the moment she's working on a novel about a mythical NightMare. Until I read an excerpt of her WIP, I didn't know that there was any myths about nightmares, you know, an actual Nightmare character. Recently she's been coming out with some short stories featuring a dog and vampires...
Any, while she was working on Senior Year Bites, she was sweet enough to send me the first couple of chapters. I read them online (this was the summer before last, back when it was a little easier for me to sit and read fiction on the computer). I liked so much, that Julie ended up sending me the whole novel. Now her Author Website is up, and she has excerpts of some of her work up. This book deserves to be in print - really, go and read the excerpt because you'll want to buy the book.
In Senior Year Bites, Megan Taylor has survived an attack that she should have died from. Only she's different now. The sun bothers her, she's lost her appetite, she's looking at her classmates and friends differently, and her senses all seem to be extreme. Megan has figured out that she's a vampire, and at the beginning of the novel has been trying to hide this from her friends, and of course from her mom. She's trying to maintain, and figure things out by herself, going out to "hunt" late at night. Unfortunately, someone is killing the young men that she's been feeding from - though she's been very careful to leave them alive and with no (hopefully) memory of what she's done to them. Megan tries to find out who is killing, and why is it always one of her recent "meals".
I had fun reading Senior Year Bites. One of the things I loved was Megan's facetious and dry humor...
"I was revolted and enraptured by the thought of what I was about to do, drinking someone's blood,...." (I love this statement, because when you think about it...isn't the thought of drinking blood kind of icky? Really!?)
"...I didn't believe I'd ever get used to thinking of my classmates as food."
I also loved that there are absolutely NO info-dumps in this story. I found out, right along with Meg and her friends (Steph and Amy) bits and pieces of what it means to be a vampire through-out the novel. Megan has to battle her own new nature, find out who she can or can't trust, and have faith in her friends' loyalty. Because of course, when you've had close friends, becoming a vampire is kind of hard to hide for long - they're going to get suspicious sooner or later. There's a part in the novel where Megan is angry and she dimly hears her friends calling her name, and she's told that her eyes went comletely black. One of those things she's learning "on-the-job".
Meg deals with a lot - I loved all the details in Meg's story. The way her friends' emotions "taste", her new strengths and weaknesses, and Megan's surprise and sometimes dismay over the changes she's going through.
There were so many facets in Senior Year Bites. The relationship between Megan and friends: will it become stronger or fall apart from the stress of being careful around her friends (not eating them). Is Megan's mom ever going to find out about Megan's "accident". How many more ways is Megan's life going to change? She's stronger than her classmates, has the potential to kill, and has super-senses now, and yet she's still a young teenager, with all being a young woman teen entails. Boys, grades, classes, friends, the future... Best of all, here is a novel with a strong female character, who has good friends that remain true to her. They work together to find limits and answers to Megan's new vampirism. Here is a character with supportive friends and family. Megan does have to deal with trust issues, but it's all related to being a new vampire and learning who to trust with how much knowledge. All nicely done by Miz Campbell.
Julie Campbell wrote a very entertaining book with fun characters, humor, danger, suspense, mystery and (the thing I always look for in any book...) BELIEVABLE dialogue between characters. Her main character is smart, and there are times in the novel where her narrative reflects this. Megan sounds like a girl with a brain in her head - but never did I get the sense that I was reading dialogue from a middleaged person coming from a teenager's mouth. Another thing I always look for in dialogue - did the character's questions and general discussions match the implied intelligence of the characters? A resounding yes in this novel.
This was a very good book, and I'm hoping to see Julie Campbells work in print. I would love to go to the bookstore and lay down some CA$H for Senior Year Bites, or for Arabian Dreams (another completed novel by Julie). Read the excerpt for Nightmare. Nightmare is going to be intense! When I read the excerpt, I got chills. There are a few other short stories available here. You can see by the variet of her work, that Julie has a great imagination.
Until that happens, take a look at Julie's website and read her Doc Stories (remember the dog and the vampires I mentioned earlier?)