Nathaniel Keene is not a normal high school student. His fascination with entomology and similar geekiness would never make him one of the popular kids. But he was ready for a new start in a new school
And then he becomes a vampire – a vampire because he’s bitten by a cat.
After which, talking cockroaches and a murder investigation just adds to the chaos.
This is definitely an original story – which is rare anyway but in the “vampire teenager goes to school” genre, which is so saturated, it’s fascinating to see something that feels so different. I especially like the difference with how vampires are made and what that means for any possibility for vampire society.
But in many ways, on the face of it it isn’t. We have a teenager who becomes a vampire. And he’s awkward and a bit of an outcast. But, no, he really is. Seriously this is kind of the synopsis for all of these books but they always lie – we inevitably get an extremely conventionally attractive person who is widely loved by anyone but the designated Mean Person. But Nathanial is genuinely an outsider. He’s fascinated by entomology and wants a pet cockroach. Yes we have a genuine weird hobby that ISN’T designed to make our teenaged vampire a super-special and classy (like piano concertos or classical literature or renaissance art).
Nathaniel as the kid completely out of his depth in a new place dealing with a new world really works because this is actually what it is – unlike so many books in this genre that purport to be what it is.
And he does make friends and I equally like that they’re not perfect. They’re not flocking round to support him when they find out who he is and think he has done something terrible. They behave like people – as in actual people who exist to be people rather than people who exist to be supporting cast.
I do think in some ways this book is too short – I think this can be a common problem with new books that start a series – they’re so quick to get to the actual plot line that they miss a lot of the introduction and exploration that is needed to properly flesh out the world and characters. The whole concept of vampirism and how it works – and more, on a personal note, how Nathaniel is reacting to the world he is in and having to adapt as a vampire. The whole idea that he walks around with an umbrella just seems so simple an adaptation to vampirism.