Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz


They're young, fabulous and fanged.

And they rule Manhattan from the trendy uptown clubs to the downtown boutiques. Fifteen-year-old Schuyler Van Alen has never quite fit in at her exclusive prep school - she's more of a vintage than a Versace girl - but all that's about to change ...

Because Schuyler has just found out she's a Blue Blood. The Blue Bloods are the city's glamorous and secret vampire elite. They're young, beautiful and powerful. But now they're being murdered. And Schuyler must find out who - or what - is behind it, before she's next.

I have to admit that I wasn't sure about Blue Bloods at first. I'd seen it in my local bookshop and admired its (fabulous) cover and liked the blurb. But I wasn't sure if there was anything new to be had from vampires so sat on the fence a little. However, I read an extract in a magazine at work (tBk I think) which made me think again. I was glad I did, Blue Bloods has much to offer the vampire genre.

The action takes place in New York. Schuyler's family was once one of the most powerful in the city but have fallen on hard times. Whilst most of the students at The Duchesne School (established 1869) wear designer jeans, Schuyler wears vintage clothes - layers and layers of them. She has one friend, the cool but slightly possessive Oliver, and is ignored by most of her peers. She's quirky and once you've met Mimi and her gang you appreciate Schuyler's selective taste in friends. Mimi is the most powerful and popular girl at Duchesne, she's a gloriously hateful character. She only cares about herself and her brother Jack and throughout the novel she manipulates and twists everyone around her. We meet Bliss and Dylan too, the latter is a rebellious character who hates all the pretension at Duchesne, has a shady past and has attracted the attention of wealthy Bliss.

Early on a Duchesne girl is murdered. Shortly afterwards Schuyler is inducted into a select club and is told she's a Blue Blood - a vampire. She's already noticed changes in her body but now has to face up to the fact that she's immortal. Jack and Schuyler form a connection, much to the disgust of Mimi, which takes Schuyler away from the safe pattern of her former life. Soon she's ostracised Oliver and living a new and confusing life even attracting attention from modelling agencies. Her powers are strong too, stronger than the other new Blue Bloods.

There's much to enjoy in Blue Bloods. Melissa de la Cruz's style of writing flows along and pulls you in - it's so effortless. The references to designer labels, clubs and the behaviour of the elite give it a current flavour. There are some great references to how old money makes itself felt; Bliss is new at Duchesne and has come from Texas so we can look over her shoulder as she negotiates her way through her new school. I laughed when she arrives at school on her first day in, "A pastel Ralph Lauren sweater with a plaid Ana Sui kilt ... with a honking white leather Chanel purse on a gold chain," to find that everyone else dressed down.

Running through the plot is a layer of historical information, book and diary entries that refer to events of 1620 and as the story progresses these tie in to current events. More Blue Bloods are murdered and things become gradually more fraught. The only negative thing I can say is that I thought the ending was a little rushed - I wanted to know more about what was going on. However, having started the follow-up book, Masquerade, I can see that this is probably because it's part of a larger plot that runs through the series. These vampires have a different kind of history which I thought was a clever idea which I can't tell you as it would spoil the plot. The relationship between Oliver and Schuyler is intriguing too - I'm looking forward to that developing in future books.

I expected Blue Bloods to be a guilty pleasure; like eating a bar of chocolate while watching ANTM and it is that but also has much more to offer. I enjoyed Blue Bloods so much I've gone straight on to Masquerade.

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