Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vesper: Just Your Average, Ordinary, Everyday Paranormal

(Image from Amazon)

Sixteen-year-old Emily Webb is not the kind of girl that sneaks out of the house, talks her way into night clubs, steals other girls' boyfriends, or flirts shamelessly with older men. At least she wasn't. But lately, every night actually, the little homebody who geeks out over cheesy horror flicks is turning into something ... else. It's like she's possessed by some bad girl supervillain. And it's freaking her out. Big time.

Emily can't explain what's happening - not to her dad, not to her best friend, not even to herself. All she knows is that Nighttime Emily is ruining Daytime Emily's life. Thanks to her wild, nocturnal adventures, she's even more of an outcast than she used to be. It doesn't help that she's got the sudden urge to smell every guy she sees. Something is seriously wrong with her, but what?

The more Emily learns about her "condition," the more unbelievable the situation becomes. Is she being controlled by a classmate who was recently killed? Or is something even weirder going on? Who are the shadowy men following her? And, most importantly, who - or what - is Emily Webb?

Vesper, the first YA novel from middle grade fantasy writer Jeff Sampson, hits bookshelves in four days. I've seen some buzz and, frankly, am wondering what's the big deal. While the book is better written than some of the paranormals I've read lately, it brings absolutely nothing new to the genre. Basically, it's a mash-up of Twilight and the t.v. show Heroes (you know how Jessica has an evil twin? It's kind of like that), with a heavy dose of Shiver. Like I said, it's not bad, just not different enough to stand out. Plus, it suffers from character undevelopment (although I like Spencer anyway), melodrama (high school - 'nuf said), and some not-so-realistic plot curves (Emily sneaks out, steals a car, is out all night, etc. and her loving parents don't notice or care?). I have to admit, though, that I liked the ending. It made me want to read the sequel (Havoc, coming in 2012) despite not loving the first book. Funny how that happens sometimes. All in all, this one was pretty meh for me. I'm getting burned out on this genre and keep waiting for something new to pop up. Guess I'll just have to keep waiting ...

(Readalikes: It's like every other YA paranormal out there. Just take your pick.)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence, and depictions of underrage drinking/partying

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Vesper from the generous folks at HarperCollins/Balzar+Bray. Thank you!

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