My rating: 4 of 5 stars
How I got it: Own, won from a giveaway.
Meet the Radleys
Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret
From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.
White picket fence and the works. Mom attends book club. SUV in the driveway. Kids go to the public school. Invite the neighbors over for dinner. Dad’s a respectable doctor. Blending into the typical and expected middle-class village where if you don’t act normal you stick out in a way you never, never wanted. Meet the Radley’s, who are precisely this level of normal middle-class family that you really don’t expect anything from.
It turns out, however, that Peter and Helen Radley are vampires, along with their two children, who they’ve kept in the dark for their entire lives. They’re considered abstainers, vampires who forgo drinking blood and live monotonous lives in order to become “better people” and avoid trouble. This is all well and good until their daughter, Clara, rips a boy to pieces and it’s finally time to break the news to the kids.
Before going any further, this book won where Twilight failed. This book is a wonderful narrative of modern vampires surviving in large human populations, how they cope, how they act, their own underground world that the rest of society never sees. It was just plain interesting, craft, and witty. The vampires seemed so much more “real” than in most novels I’ve read. They weren’t overly romanticized or developed to be these characters that 13 year old girls were meant to fall in love with.
The world building was fun. There was a new vocab introduced in this book that was unique to it’s own, and whenever something more was introduced it was so smooth that I didn’t feel the rude plot speed-bump that let me know I had to grow accustomed to something that I really didn’t want to.
The plot was believable and his writing and dialogue were very real. I don’t read many books where it doesn’t seem overly fanaticized to me.
I loved the characters. Rowan, the teenage son, and Clara, his little sister would be the average teenagers, if they didn’t have to bathe in SPF 90 sun block. You can see how their parents just suffer trying to live normal lives when they remember ecstasy filled evenings, flying to Paris to rock out at underground vampire clubs.
I’m kinda disappointed that this book is a stand alone. Not that I particularly want the characters to be stretched out over another painful book, but I think Haig can successfully work another book out of this if he’s smart about it. Maybe it was just the world-building and how he handled the subject.
The one thing that bothered me enough to take away a star was his trying to write this book too much like a Desperate Housewives episode. I really couldn’t care less who wanted the affair and who was finally getting sex from their husband. I understand his intentions and by the last few chapters I can see how this was beneficial, but I can’t help but wonder, “Hey, could you have done this… ya know, differently?”
Anyway, if I could read more books like this where I didn’t want to slaughter the main character or I wasn’t being dealt pretty boy vampires, I’d be a much happier reader.
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