Friday, October 31, 2014

Kaniesha Reviews: Blood Orange Soda ARC by James Michael Larranaga

Title: Blood Orange Soda
Series: Stand-Alone
Author: James Michael Larranaga
Release date: February 26, 2014
Publisher: JML
Genres: vampires, urban fantasy
Goodreadsbuy the book
Darius Hunter lives in a world where vampires live among normal humans. Young vampires like Darius are kept on a government-mandated medication that prevents them from becoming fully undead until they’re 18. He’s smart, sensitive and all-too human—a struggling outsider who’s just trying to fit in, find a girlfriend and escape the attention of football bully Bao Wang. 

It’s his humanity that often keeps him from his hopes and dreams, so Darius’ “cool uncle” Jack, a vampire, introduces him to a substance called Blood Orange Soda. This strange analog of steroids can speed Darius’ maturation into his full vampire state, but it can’t guarantee that he’ll avoid disrupting the lives of his mother and sister, win the love of Angel Martin or successfully face up to Bao. It also doesn’t make him immune to heartbreak and loss. 

The author takes familiar themes of YA fiction—vampires and teen romance—and treats them with a surprising empathy and respect that gives them real weight. 

I received this copy of Blood Orange Soda from Netgalley for review. Thank you!

Review: Blood Orange Soda is one of those weirdly interesting books that can’t keep me reading for longer than 20 minutes but I don’t hate it enough to drop it outright. Hence it taking me four months to begin and complete. This really leaves me in a weird position because I wasn’t reading it entirely to review, it’s something I requested off Netgalley because I was genuinely intrigued with the premise. A high school vampire? That gets bullied? How’s that going to work out? Are vampires not super powered in this world?

Spoiler: they sort of are, sort of aren’t.

So if you were to take our world and make it so vampires have been out and about, integrated into society for as long as anyone could remember, I think this story would do it justice. Darius is just an average teenager. He’s in a band with his friends. He’s a little passive and a bit of an adrenaline junkie. He’s not sure where his life is headed, he’s not sure if he wants to know either. You know, teenager issues. I almost relate.

Now here’s where I get negative: Blood Orange Soda is boring. A teenage vampire with normal teenager problems? Where’s the fun in that? Not to mention Darius’ voice grates on me every once in a while: he has absolutely excellent observing skills. He seems to know what everyone is thinking and feeling at any given time by noticing subtle movements, body language, tones of voice, etc. And that’s even before he’s a vampire and has enhanced abilities. I don’t know why this rubs me the wrong way, but it doesn’t seem accurate for a hormonal 14 year old boy with family and bully issues. He stays calm and collected far too much than he should. Unbelievable characteristics really bother me.

The main conflict of the book is Darius dealing with his bully, Bao. Bao doesn’t bully him for any particular reason and Darius doesn’t question it. He doesn’t do much about it either except instigate him further and then plan another fight for the both of them a few weeks later on Halloween that Bao accepts, reluctantly. Darius decides he’s going to transform into a vampire so he has a better chance in the fight. His uncle agrees, his mother does not.

One sub-conflict in the story: Darius’ mother is dying. She’s caught a disease that only vampires get and there’s nothing that can save her, except maybe this one thing that probably won’t work. Does that stop Daris? No. His uncle even encourages him.

This leads to another problem of mine: the adults in this story are pretty nonexistent, or it feels like they are. Darius is constantly having conversations with his mother, his uncle, and teachers. They all agree with him no matter what. They rarely challenge him - all they do is give him a few ideas and he agrees with them in turn without challenging. His uncle approves of him having a fight with his bully, approves of him transitioning into a vampire at the age of 14, accepts the proposal of "training" this 14 year old for a fight against another 14 year old who will not be able to match him as he’s a mere human, etc. It’s pretty ridiculous and annoying.

The third and last sub-conflict: Darius’ love life. There’s a bit of a love triangle/square. I’d get into it but with my issues above, I’ll leave it out. Teenagers having love conflicts is normal. I’d be surprised if there weren’t best friends falling for each other and whatnot.

In conclusion, would I recommend this book? No, not for adults. There’s plenty better vampire books out there. I think it’d be a fun story for teenagers though.

Rating: 2.5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment