Paranormal, 385 pages
September 13th 2011 from Margaret K. McElderry
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. I mean, the cover is one of my hands-down favorites of the year, and the teaser synopsis that was released earlier this year is just brilliant (What happens when a vampire is stabbed through the heart by a were-unicorn's horn? She develops a very inconvenient conscience. Oops.) But it was the kind of idea that could have been very, very right or very, very wrong. Thank god, it turned out to be very, very right. Drink, Slay, Love is one of the most purely fun books I've read in awhile.
And a big part of this is Pearl. Pearl is one of the most absolutely delicious MCs I've read in recent memory. She's smart - and a smart-ass - and she has this great dark humor to her as a result of being a vampire. I love her reluctant humanity and just-as-reluctant budding romance. But a big part of what makes her so fun is that she works on two levels: there's the Pearl that is very aware and serious about her vampire-ness, and is freaked out by the fact that she's changing and *gasp* growing fond of the food, and there's the part of Pearl that the reader sees that is almost like dramatic irony - there's what Pearl says she thinks and wants, and then there's what she actually does and what the reader can see happening. So her dark humor remains dark throughout, but becomes more humor and less just seriously dark. She's never super cuddly, and even when she realizes what has happened to her, she is just as much pissed off * about it as she is reluctantly pleased. It's so fun to read, and I'm so glad that Durst didn't make her mopey or all that nice. She's a biting character (hardy har har), and I enjoyed that.
And Pearl's fun voice extends to the whole novel. Drink, Slay, Love is enjoyable because it's aware of the books that come before it, and it pokes gentle fun at them. I mean, there's a vampire-themed prom with cardboard Cullen cutouts. Pearl laughs to herself when the sunlight through stained glass makes her "sparkle". It's just this great tongue-in-cheek, wink-and-a-nod story that doesn't take itself too seriously, and I love that. I also think it was a wise move on Durst's part to work from the accepted myths of vampires, rather than creating her own. It could have been risky, could have come off as lazy, but it didn't because it was well done and saved on ridiculous info-dumping while allowing her to be playful and have little inside jokes with the reader. It also gave her room to work with the unicorn mythos and play with that a bit more. I absolutely loved the idea of having supernatural creatures (vampires) who don't believe in other supernatural creatures (unicorns), and I loved that the unicorns were the ones to sort of perpetuate their own myths as myths.
I keep saying "I loved it, it was fun, I loved it, it was fun" and I guess that's what it all comes down to. This book doesn't make you work for it. It allows you to just have fun, to relax and enjoy the story, and laugh and laugh. But it does so without being throwaway fluff. You can tell Durst had fun with this story, and as a result, the reader has fun too. Highly recommended, especially as a funk-breaker for those reading funks we all go through.
*Here's an excerpt of what I mean by this. Pearl finally learns what exactly happened to her and her reaction is very honest and true to who she is, as well as being a good point, I think. But it's slightly spoilery, so...
"You still want to save me, even after...what I told you I did."I adored this. If I didn't already love Pearl by this point, I would have whole-heartedly after this.
"Of course," he said.
Gently, she touched the side of his face, cradling his cheek in her hand. She felt his warmth against her cool-as-a-serpent skin. "But you already have."
He quit swaying, and he stared at her with his brilliant eyes, so earnest and pure. "You mean that?"
She wished he hadn't asked. It had been such a perfect line. "No." Pressing closer to him, she said in a whisper that was barely above a breath, "You messed up my life in a high-handed, daddy-knows-best, alpha-male way and reshaped me to suit your own ideals without regard for my culture or family background, not to mention my personal wants and needs -- and that's if I'm being charitable..."
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