“It was so shocking and so different than what I expected it to be…” -Justine Alley Dowsett, Mirror World Publishing (Hardcover Episode 67: I’ll Be Your Mirror)
A Young Adult Rom Com featuring vampires. Not my usual cup of tea (it’s usually Lady Grey, but that’s unimportant) – but when Elizabeth J.M. Walker’s publisher called her new book “shocking,” I was beyond intrigued. We interviewed Elizabeth about a year ago about her Young Adult fantasy novel She Dreamed of Dragons. Knowing her first book and meeting her in person (she’s super kind, by the way) did little to prepare me for the force and indeed shocking honesty of This Night Sucks. I read it in one day and enjoyed every page of it.
Vampires are dying out. We’re well past the surge of YA fiction and media feeding off the popularity of the Twilight series and other such supernatural novels. So what makes This Night Sucks a relevant read in 2016? For me, it’s Elizabeth’s writing style. Sharp and funny, with just enough exposition to keep you up to speed with what’s happening without distancing you from the world of the novel. Her first person narration is on point. Whether it’s crushing on a boy or trying to escape from vampires, the stakes feel very real (no pun intended). The story operates on a surprisingly visceral level at some points and doesn’t shy away from sex or swearing.
The book is full of pop culture references, my favourite being a passing nod to Weezer’s Blue Album. One of the characters has a closet full of vintage clothes. “Geek culture” is also represented in the novel. Some of these references lend to the clear satire of high school life, but they also place the novel in a very familiar and specific culture, one that we in North America live in every day. I also want to say that Elizabeth’s use of technology is tasteful: enough cell phones and computers around that they feel natural but never become the focus. Like vampires, they’re a normal part of the world and don’t have to be over-explained. This Night Sucks also tastefully takes from those vampiric mythologies that have gone before: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Interview with a Vampire, and Dracula. No sparkly vampires here.
Now, this is very much a Young Adult novel. There’s a healthy dose of teenage angst surrounding sex, friendships, and high school clique culture. It’s a quick read. The plot is formulaic, which isn’t a bad thing, but you do have an idea of where the story is going from the first chapter – it is a romantic comedy, after all. But again, the reason I enjoyed this book so much was Elizabeth’s writing style and her use of circumstantial humor. That, and the “shocking” honesty of her main character, sets this book apart from your run of the mill vampire story.
Join Mirror World and Elizabeth J.M. Walker June 17th, 2016 for their online release party!