Sunday, 11 November 2012
Review: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
In the heady days after I finished the Twilight series, I binged on anything and everything I could get that was vampire-related. I wanted to recapture that heart-racing, page-turning, delicious (and slightly delirous) craze that Edward Cullen had drawn me in to. I discovered the Vampire Academy series, which was awesome, and the Blue Bloods series, which was not. I raced through the Southern Vampire series. I dabbled with The Vampire Diaries. I reread Twilight. And I overdosed.
Once the Cullen-induced haze had lifted, I found myself so incredibly sick of vampires. I wasn't just sick of reading them - I was sick of seeing them. It seemed like every second book was vampire-related. I cringed away from them all in protest of the (over)saturation. I was put off by the money-grabbing appearance of it all, and I was incredibly tired of the many Twilight imitations that watered down the vampire mythology till it had as much blood in it as a tofurkey. Of course I still had a place in my heart for VA, TVD (the TV version) and Sookie Stackhouse (well, Eric Northman, at least), but I wasn't interested in taking on any new vamp stories. So when Drink, Slay, Love came out I rolled my eyes. Judging from the cover alone, it seemed to me to be cashing in on not one but two overdone phenomena (vampires and Eat, Pray, Love) and I didn't want a bar of it.
Then I learnt about the plot, and I started to think, OK, maybe there was more to this book than meets the eye. Like UNICORNS. You add a unicorn to something and it automatically makes it more awesome. Forget vampires - why aren't unicorns in every second book?! Anyway, learning that Eat, Pray, Love was about a vamp girl getting staked by a unicorn's horn and suddenly waking up able to walk in the sun and feeling pangs of conscience definitely piqued my interest, though I was still a bit turned off by the daywalking, deep-thinking tropes I'd seen all-too-much of. Then I read reviews. Many reviews. Many glowing reviews. I was still a bit cynical, but I trusted the reviewers in question, so I got the book and put it on my bookshelf. There it sat for oh, about a year. I considered reading it from time, but was still not that keen on new vampire books, so I passed it over. Finally the day came when, in search for something light and fun to read, Drink, Slay, Love caught my eye. I somehow skipped over the fact that it was about vampires and only remembered that it was about UNICORNS. And what could be more light and fun than that?!
I'll tell you what - VAMPIRES. Specifically, vampires who drink blood and view humans as food. And then get staked by unicorns and get all these FEELS that they don't want to deal with. But they actually do deal with them rather than being all, like, angsty and broody. OK, I should stop saying "they" because really I'm just talking about Pearl. She's so awesome. I'll admit it was a little confronting at first to be inside her head when she was hunting and viewing humans as prey and all, but I still immediately loved her strength, confidence, power, self-respect and snarky sense of humour. She's a refreshing heroine, and a refreshing kind of vampire. Even when the day-walking wangst started, it worked for me - because it wasn't stale. Pearl really struggled with it, and openly talked about how lame it was. It was the kind of wink wink, nudge nudge humour that appeared throughout, and that I love.
The secondary characters were also great. Pearl's family were hella creepy in the way vampires should be, and her new friends at school were likable and funny. Evan, the love interest, was ridiculously perfect, just like every other YA paranormal love interest, but the cliché is cleverly subverted by a certain spoilery part of the plot. And yes, the whole unicorn thing was a bit campy and absurd, but I think that was kind of the point. The whole thing parodies the many were-animals we see in vamp stories, while at the same time making the device more awesome. Because it's UNICORNS.
While Drink, Slay, Love is a parody, it's not so ridiculous that it undermines its own story; you still connect with the characters and feel for Pearl as she navigates her new situation and tries to balance her duty to her family (and, y'know, trying not to be killed by them) and her feelings for her new human friends. It provides a hilarious critique of paranormal romances while at the same time becoming a fun and fresh addition to the genre. It may just have got me hooked on bloodsuckers again. As long as they're as awesome as Pearl.
I pictured Crystal Reed as the kick-ass beauty Pearl, and Zac Efron as Evan, because he's supposed to be perfect-looking and the Zefron is the most perfect-looking human being on Earth.
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal Romance
Published: 2011, Allen & Unwin
Get It: Angus & Robertson