The writing was just my style. It gave me what I needed to understand and follow the story, without being overbearing or overly descriptive. It had characterisation that didn't require stopping for info-dumps, and it had real, honest to God awkward teenage conversations. It was like being taken straight back to high school all over again, and remembering the stuttering, uncertain way it felt to be a teenager, never knowing what to say or do, never sure how to act, or what was appropriate. Yet, Darren and Vlad both talk openly – argue plenty, too – about Darren's transition, Vlad's background, race, orientation. Just in that really awkward way that teenagers do. Through misunderstandings, misjudging, misinterpreting a conversation, and then having to actually spell it out when things boil to a head.
The plot is really original. I've never seen vampires explored in this way before. With a teen vampire, recently turned, trying and floundering through learning how to be a vampire. Making mistakes. Nearly killing himself with those mistakes. It was really cleverly conceived and well written. I loved that it didn't linger throughout school classes, since Darren and Vlad's interactions all happened outside of school. And though there were time jumps of a few days at a time, quite often, it felt natural for the story. We got to see enough of Darren's friendship with the girls, Trisha and Beth, to get a real sense of their personalities as well as their connection and friendship.
Darren's friendship with Vlad, in a similar way, was really nicely explored throughout the book. It wasn't until nearly 70% that things became “more than friends” and especially awkward for it. Until then, we got to watch these two kids drift from total strangers to grudging companionship, to best friends, and then into boyfriends. And it was really lovely to see. To watch the chemistry build over time, while they battled other issues, learned about their magic, and began to trust each other. I loved that Darren and Vlad were each strong in different ways, they each had their own talents and strengths, and they supported each other. Darren didn't allow Vlad to get away with false bravado, while Vlad didn't allow Darren to remain too reckless, yet they each supported and cared about the other, looking after each other, when things didn't go to plan.
And all wrapped up with a beautiful, totally fitting, cover. One that I'll be making space on my bookshelf for, so I can buy the paperback the minute it's available.
““I didn't almost die,” Vlad muttered, following Darren. “You are exaggerating.”