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Friday, June 15, 2012

BLOODTHIRSTY By Flynn Meaney. Sydney: HarperCollins, 2010

Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls.
Finbar Frame, a sixteen year old boy whose (fraternal) twin brother got all the looks, charm and athletic ability, desperately wants a girlfriend. A move from smalltown Indiana to the huge New York metropolis seems to give him an opportunity to start again after his horrible boys’ school.
In the big city, he discovers something: teenage girls think vampires are seriously hot. With everyone reading a piece of woeful R-rated vampire romance called Bloodthirsty, he might finally have a chance to score. 
He does the research, reading every piece of YA vampire fiction he can get hold of, plus the dreadful Bloodthirsty. He rearranges his life to make himself as mysterious and cool as possible, concluding that he needs vampire attitude, that don’t-give-a-damn style.
And it works. Soon girls are spreading the kind of rumours he wants spread. He even finds that his new attitude is enabling him to become more confident around bullies of his own sex, including one who is bullying a younger student. But the girl he finds most attractive, who isn’t into vampires and might like him for himself, has her own secrets....
The book is very funny and you really feel for Finbar, even when he’s playing the vampire to the hilt. As a Catholic who thinks he may go to hell for lying, he never actually says he’s a vampire, only implies, but feels guilty anyway.  His family are over-the-top - his brother Luke, who got the nice simple name as well as everything else, is an ADHD sufferer who can’t take medication, so is always on the move and unable to focus for more than a few minutes. His mother has a cleanliness fetish and both parents embarrass him when he finally brings a girl home.
But, despite those reviews that describe the book as light and fluffy without too much depth, it does have something to say about being yourself and not worrying what others think. This is suggested both about Finbar and others; in one scene, he accompanies his friend Jenny to a fantasy convention where everyone is clearly having fun in costume, playing with their hobby and not bothered about anyone else's opinion of what they're doing. The author has fun with the whole vampire romance phenomenon, but manages to point out that vampires do have some positive features, specifically that, like the fantasy fans, they don’t care what others think. 
The one thing I found a little disappointing was that the only female character who wasn’t sent up was Kate, the girl who’s not into vampires. Jenny is a sympathetic character, but needs help. 
The style reminds me quite a lot of the novels of Lili Wilkinson, so if you’ve read and enjoyed those, you might like to have a look at this one.

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