19 February 2013

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

I don't like vampire books.  Just a little quirk of mine.  So the one and only reason I picked Drink, Slay, Love up was because it was written by Sarah Beth Durst, who blew me away with her unbelievably wonderful fantasy novel, Vessel.  People told me, "Oh, you liked that?  You'd totally love Drink, Slay, Love."  And I just thought, "It's...a...vampire book."  But I did pick it up.  Thank God.

I love books that make me laugh.  What surprised me here was the way humor was used.  Drink, Slay, Love was not some light, fluffy spoof.  So while it was a lot of fun, the humor was more along the dry and sarcastic side rather than ridiculous and unbelievable.  (But okay, I'll admit the unicorn thing did push a limit or two.)  I didn't expect something deep and rich with complicated feelings, nuanced characters and a plot that actually challenged the characters instead of being conveniently inconvenient. But that's exactly what I got.

Another expectation busted?  Pearl's awesomeness.  Huzzah for awesome vampire main characters.  I thought she would be irritating and shallow, but she never even gave my nerves a mean glance.  Not even for a second.  That rocked.  I loved how her transition from soulless predator to vulnerable teenager was portrayed as a slow evolution that was believable and sincere.  I backed Pearl up 100%.  I wanted her to live (so to speak), to find her happiness, and succeed at her mission.  Having so much sympathy with the main character let me sit back and enjoy the story.

I was thinking the plot might be a little on the sketchy side.  I mean, there's a unicorn.  But only a few things warranted an eyebrow raise.  The stakes were well defined (no pun intended) so I understood from the get go what Pearl stood to lose if she pushed the boundaries of her world.  There was constant motion and conflict, always something to move the story forward, and the plot twists challenged the characters, didn't let them slide by with only a few scrapes.

All of this was accented with a great sense of humor and underlined with a sweet romance.  I liked how the humor was more sarcastic and snarky than goofy and unbelievable.  And the romance.  Ah, amour. I think that I saw the signs of a Durst trademark.  In Vessel, the romance built up naturally and here, too, in Drink, Slay, Love, the romance did not take center stage but instead was something else the main character had to work through.  I really liked how this wasn't a romance, but more of a coming-of-age story.

Sarah Beth Durst has finally given me the opportunity to say that there is only one vampire book I like, instead of declaring I dislike them in general.  Drink, Slay, Love was a fun tale of vampirism, action and a dash of romance, all laced with a snarky humor that had me giggling from start to finish.  A great read.

"Do you know how to drive?" he asked.

"Sure," she said. "This one is the gas."
"I can take care of myself," she said as she opened the car door.

"Of course you can," he said.  "That's why you were walking down the center of the street at dawn in hooker wear."

Pearl felt her eyes bug.  "I am not wearing hooker clothes."  She surveyed herself: black leather corset top, lace skirt, knee-high boots.  "It's Goth."

"Sure it is."

"And it's ironic."

"The Titanic labeled 'unsinkable' is ironic.  Your skirt is just short."

"I happen to know I have nice legs."

"All the world happens to know you have nice legs."
So many questions, and the stupid, shimmery, speedy glorified donkey had escaped without coughing up one single answer!
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 385
  • published - September 2011
  • publisher - Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • genre - urban fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 5/5