Today, much later than I had intended, I thought I would share with you: Thirsty by M.T. Anderson (winner of the National Book Award for Young People for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, vol. 1: The Pox Party). This is perhaps one of the silliest and, somehow, most authentic vampire books I've read in a while.
Chris is a normal teenage boy doing normal teenage things until he finds himself the center of attention to a vampire about to be executed. Suddenly, things take a turn for the bizarre when Chris is visited by a man claiming to be Chet, Celestial Being, avatar of the Forces of Light. Chet tells Chris that, sadly, puberty has triggered his vampirism, and that he is doomed to either eat his friends and be executed, or starve to death. But, if Chris acts now, he can do Chet a favor and help him with a little task that requires going into a den -- the den -- of vampires and overthrowing their schemes to free their vampire god.
Now Chris is on a deadly and seemingly impossible mission, when all he really wants to do is stare at Rebecca Schwartz.
There's something I love about M.T. Anderson that is one of those loveitorhateit things (anyone who has read Feed will know what I'm talking about, though that is an extreme case). His writing is super simplistic, and you could almost suspect it of being amateurish if you didn't think it was intentional (at least, I think it's intentional...). It can be frustrating to get into sometimes, but it's very effective in achieving a "teen" voice. And it's not the cheesy, "I'm going to make my characters curse a lot and use slang" kind of teen voice. There is an immediacy to everything, and a complete self-interestedness that feels so teen, so self-absorbed and in the now.
This style also allows Anderson to be completely hilarious at times. As overly simple as Anderson is, he has a way of surprising you with his language and the way he presents things. Even when the story occasionally fell flat (and it did, especially towards the end), Chris' narration still had me laughing out loud. Some of it is just silly, and some of it is understated, and it's not the type of humor everyone gets. I know this book fell flat to a lot of people, and some found Chris unlikeable (I really don't know why; I found him genuine and funny).
The ending did fall flat for me, and there were times when it seemed like Chris should be more concerned or involved in his fate, but was more content to whine and be glum and act like any other teen who wasn't turning into a vampire. This isn't the type of story where an ordinary person becomes something or gets sucked into something and it's all rollicking adventure from there. Chris is still a self-absorbed teen through out. And though this probably would normally have annoyed me, I felt like for this, it worked.
Fair warning, the 1st 1/2 is better than the second. .In the beginning I was tabbing things I found amusing, and the tabs definitely tapered off after awhile. And most likely, this book is not going to blow you away. But it is a light, quick read, and perfect for the season.
Because I want you to be fully informed, I am including some reviews from other people with different takes.
I was especially amused by this 1-star review comparing the book to a young homosexual's struggle because the reader found the book in the glbt section and apparently didn't once think that maybe it was misplaced...
Here's a a 3-star review that makes some good points with out giving things away. I do agree that the 1st 1/2 is better than the 2nd by a long shot.
Last, here are two very brief 5-star reviews, which I am just going to paste in since they're so short:
if i had to pick 5 vampire books to survive the apocalypse, this would be one of them. i laughed out loud at least 10 times, got scared in the dark at least 5, and got multiple attacks of the i-can't-believe-someone-finally-wrote-this-book variety. the main character is becoming a vampire at the same time he's going into puberty. who knew that a first-shaving experience could be so hilarious and touching at the same time? so good!
It sent chills down my spine. I couldn't get Thirsty out of my head for days. Thirsty was realistic and sarcastic and brutally honest. If he's a vampire, shouldn't there be blood? And there was. M.T. Anderson is a talented author. He wrote one of the best vampire novels yet.
My all-time favorite scene is Chris's first shave. Most guys have bad first-time shaving incidents, but Chris's was unique. Shave, cut, bleed . . . and dab with tissues? No. Lick.
Here are some of my favorite deadpan funnies from the book:
I think I have a crush on Rebecca Schwartz.
I haven't spoken to her much. It would be like Moses speaking to the burning bush. Whenever I go to speak with her, I feel like I should take off my shoes.~~~"What is your name?"
He looks surprised. "My name is nonverbal," he says. "It's a pattern of thought."
"You don't have a name?" I ask, somewhat incredulously.
"Okay, a name," he says, shrugging. "I don't know. Name...? Chet."
"That will do."
"Your name is Chet? Chet the Celestial Being?"
"Look," he says. "I don't need this.~~~The strange thing is that the man (for at first I assume it is a man) is not subtle at all. I have read about a billion spy novels, and when you are following somone, you hide behind newspapers, or pretend to paint the house next door, or hide a camera inside a spacious poodle.~~~server, about the casseroles at the vampire pot-luck, which Chris assumes is chicken: "Would you like some of Jennifer or Dave?"~~~"Rebecca?" Feeling weak, I look deep into her feet...
Please enjoy this thoroughly cheesy fan-made trailer of Thirsty, set to the song, Creep, by Radiohead, which the maker incorrectly credits as "Soundgarden." That's all, just "Soundgarden." Whether she things Soundgarden wrote the song, or that is the name of the song...
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