Saturday, 14 August 2010

Almost To Die For by Tate Hallaway

Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genre: Horror/Fantasy/Romance

Almost to Die For (Vampire Princess of St. Paul, #1)***Contains Spoilers***

I loved this book a lot, it was funny, had a writing style that i love, twisted the usual approach to vampire fiction and included some pretty awesome wicca stuff as well. My only complaint, and it is one that impacted my overall rating, was that the ending seemed a bit rushed but i'll get back to that later in the review.

To summarise, Ana is turning 16 and is part of a coven of witches. On her birthday she is supposed to take part in innitiation in order to become a true witch. Ana is dreading it because she's never once been able to use magic and so knows she will fail. But nothing prepares her for the shock that she is infact only half witch...and half vampire. And not just any half vampire, but a princess.

One of the main reasons i liked this so much was it's original take on vampires and the fact everything got turned on its head. Instead of some misunderstood creature who claims to be innocent, they admit they are technically from a demon world (and are demons) the difference being is that the blood drinking isn't supposed to end in death.

There were other things turned on there heads to. Instead of the cliche vampires/werewolves fighting, it turned out to be vampires and witches and there were perfectly good explanations for it too, rather than simply 'just because they hate one another'.
A complex story between the two races is told and yet as a reader i could still see how someone from both sides would be of great benefit., rather than being on either side.

The characters were wonderfully complex as well. Ana made a refreshing change from your usual heroine, with her down to earth attitude and reasoning. For example, when confronted with a situation in which she knows she might cause harm, she walks away. And i loved her ability to think for herself and do what she wanted, despite others opnions.
Bea was another fave of mine, which is odd because she had her bitchy moments. This i found to be more realistic also. She was clearly a good friend to Ana, but no friend is flawless, and watching her behave like a bitch sometimes just added to the realism of her character.
No one, after all, likes a perfect person!
Nik and Elias were interesting as Ana's love rivals, but i have to admit i prefer Elias, as i find Nik to be a bit of a mysterious dark horse, not knowing where he stands. Elias on the other hand tends to be more straighforward, although only the sequels will tell i guess!

Ana's relationship with her mother was another point of interest for me. At times Ana's mother could seem really attentive and doing everything for her daughter, but other times she just seemed like she was up to something else, and i really didnt like some of the things she did to try and get Ana onside.
It is obvious that she cares for Ana and that she has her best interests at heart, but still, watching her and Ramses (Ana's father) argue over her destiny was a bit like watching a soap to some extent.
At one point i wanted Ana to tell them both to shut up and butt out and to let her make her own decisions, and i wasn't disapointed with how Ana handles everything, proving herself to be a very strong and capable person.

Finally i come to the ending. I have to be honest and say i loved this book but the ending was rather rushed. After such a brillaint beginning and middle and everything happening at a decent pace, i was surprised and found it odd that everything would be resolved in a few pages towards the end. I also find it difficult to believe that the leaders of the witch and vampire sides (who are both very strong willed by the way) would just go, ok lets have a truce.
This might all be leading to something in the second novel, but i dont know that so im basing my judgement on how i see things now. Having said that, part of the ending took me completely by surprise in such a way i laughed and was left quite stunned.

Overall though a really funny, romantic, original and pacey thrill ride of a novel.

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