November 07, 2011

Vampires vs. Unicorns: DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst

This book is a 2011 Cybils nominee for teen sci-fi/fantasy.

Reader Gut Reaction: Full disclosure: I'm just about at full capacity when it comes to books about vampires. (Admittedly, it didn't take very long.) But I've read just about everything that Sarah Beth Durst has written so far, and she has such an engaging and funny writing style that I was willing to give this one a shot. Or a nibble.

You've heard, no doubt, of Zombies vs. Unicorns. Well, it wouldn't be inaccurate to describe Drink, Slay, Love as vampires vs. unicorns. Pearl is a vampire—a young vampire—and her primary concerns are hanging out with her hot vampire boyfriend Jadrien, drinking the scrumptiously ice-cream-flavored blood of the Dairy Hut kid, and preparing for the Fealty Ceremony at which she'll become a full-fledged adult vampire. At least, that was all she cared about until the fateful night she got stabbed in the heart by a unicorn. Too bad nobody believes her. After all, unicorns aren't real...

Concerning Character: Pearl is one of those characters who starts off a little more tongue-in-cheek, a little more humor and flash than substance. Then she grows on you. Not just in terms of general appeal, but also with respect to depth of character. And that fits the story—Pearl is just a vampire to start with, but getting stabbed by a unicorn has unexpected side effects, the most notable of which are that she can now walk around in the daylight and she begins to develop...a conscience. What kind of vampire actually starts to feel bad about her potential victims? This ends up being a major complication when she's sent out into the world by her Family (yes, the vampires are a little like the Mafia) to acquire a feast to remember for the upcoming Fealty Ceremony.

When Pearl enrolls in high school (surely an excellent source of deliciously drinkable humans), it isn't quite as easy as it seems to blend in and fulfill her family's directive. What happens when she (gasp) makes actual friends? I love the funny but also sincere what-if questions that drive this story: What if a vampire really did enroll in a high school and it wasn't glamorized and glittery? What if a vampire showed signs of conscience and didn't have an amazing, understanding family to back her up?

Recommended for Fans Of...: This is a fun look at vampire fiction that should appeal to fans of Kimberly Pauley's Sucks to Be Me (reviewed here), Cynthia Leitch Smith's Tantalize (reviewed here), Life Sucks by Jessica Abel (reviewed here), or anyone who's tired of vampire fiction that takes itself too seriously.

Themes & Things: Friendship. Love. What it means to have those, compared to not having them. Learning that friendship and love come in different flavors, and learning that you can find family that are just as valuable and meaningful as the family you were born into. (That seems to be a common theme in the books I'm reading lately, but honestly, it is an important life lesson.)

Review Copy Source: Author/publisher

You can find Drink, Slay, Love at an independent bookstore near you!


tanita✿davis said...

Okay, I'll bite.
I'm over vampires, too (SOOOOOO, so, so, so over), but I like that this title is a.) a clever play on an already existing book and

b.) vampires vs. UNICORNS?? Really???

and c.) I'm just a ..."sucker."

Oh, the bad puns just keep coming.

Sarah Stevenson said...