TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Nancy Collins' "Vamps" reads like a cross between "Twilight" and "Gossip Girl." That's a compliment! Lillith Todd is the undisputed queen of Bathory Academy, an all-girls prep school for full-blooded vampires from old, established blood lines. While there are flying and shapeshifting lessons at school, there's also ample opportunity for typical bratty high school girl behavior, like making fun of a dorky classmate or crushing on a guy vampire at the adjoining boys' school. I'm not so big on the conspicuous consumption teen novel, where characters' clothes and accessories are repeatedly described in fawning detail, but author Collins doesn't go too far over the top in telling us about the Manolo Blahniks and Prada and such. Once the story gets rolling — a "slumming" expedition to Washington Square Park goes horribly wrong when the old bloods encounter both Van Helsing vampire fighters and a new blood vampire/witch hybrid — the focus turns more to intrigue, backstabbing, and action than the latest pair of shoes. Which, fine by me.
That vampire/witch from the park is Cally Monture, and, if you're at all like me, you'll much prefer her spunky, capable gal to Lillith's me-first character. Also, if you're even remotely paying attention, you'll spot the big secret about Cally's background ages before Lillith does, but that's fine. I'm a huge fan of vampire mythology, and I think Collins has ably created a working universe with consistent rules about vampire history, behavior, and customs. (She even includes a glossary.) Don't laugh, that's important. There's nothing worse than inconsistent, lazy logic within a supernatural construct. Collins stays true to her framework, and there are plenty of twists, turns, and "wow, cool" moments to keep readers interested. When all else fails, just enjoy the seemingly doomed romance between Cally and the kind vampire hunter Peter (by the way, I always love the starcrossed aspect, going all the way back to the days of Buffy and Angel); their deep though buried feelings and simmering passion nicely counteract the all too shallow relationships of Lillith and her popular set.
While there's nothing groundbreaking here, this is a fast, highly readable novel that sets up a compelling premise for future sequels. And, believe me, there will be sequels, as this one ends the very moment Lillith figures out Cally's secret. Truth be told, I'm looking forward to the next installment myself. For high school girls who like either chick lit or vampire sagas — or both — "Vamps" is a solid choice. Just be warned that there are instances of rough language, drug / alcohol references, and sexual situations here, meaning it's most definitely a high school book. "Vamps" is slated for publication in late July. Until then, you can check out the Amazon page for more info.