Thursday, March 13, 2008

Trashy Teen Fic Review - Vampre Beach: Bloodlust and Gossip Girl

Teen fiction has a bad rep. When some people think of teen fiction they think of the Sweet Valley High style romances. They think of the trashy "I have to find a boyfriend and look perfect and manage my mazillion friends" kind of books. Usually, I just try point people towards the masses of really awesome teen fiction out there, but this week i was feeling a little ambitious. I challenged myself to read the trashiest teen fiction I could find, and try and find some merit in it.

The first book that I read was Vampire Beach: Bloodlust. The premise of the book is that there are a group of rich spoilt kids in Malibu, and most of them are actually vampires. The premise alone was enough to make me think "TRASH!" but I really wanted to give it a chance. After all - who doesn't love vampires? Unfortunately, my instincts were right. The book is terrible. Jason is new to town, and quickly adapts to his peers world of underage drinking and casual sex. At least Jason and his sister seem to have a slightly higher moral standard then the rest of the characters, Jason is really too busy obsessing over the girlfriend of one of his friends to sleep around much. Sometime around chapter 10 it's revealed that everyone are actually vampires, and this revelation didn't really change much. It just became drinking and sex with a murder mystery. The vampires were actually the most believable element of the whole novel, the rest of the novel felt like the fake hollywood lifestyle it was portraying - none of the characters had any real emotions beyond the scope of their stereotypes.

From a writing point of view, Gossip Girl, was slightly better. I choose this as my second attempt to find a 'not crap' traditional teen fic book because I've seen an episode of the tv show, and it seemed much better than the others of it's genre. The book is again about a group of super rich kids, this time in New York. It starts with a bit of a mislead, with the character Blair musing about her homelife and her parents, but the book, like Blair's life, is soon taken over by the rising starlet Serena who returns to the upperclass society from several years away at boarding school. Blair resents Serena for neglecting their friendship, and sets about snubbing her in the way only rich society girls can - leaving Serena feeling extemely lost, confused and out of place in the upperclass world she grew up in. This set-up was enough to keep me interested in the book for quite a while, but ultimate this book got to me too. Like Bloodlust, this book also seems to advocate the idea that teenagers don't really think about anything other than drinking and sex. I feel really really sorry for them if it's true. The book probably has good things to say on the importance of friendship etc, but I just couldn't get to them through all the melodrama. The series must be doing something right though, because there are eleven books and a tv-show to date.

The only good thing that I can see for these books is that at least they would get teens reading. They both had the same kind of sensationalist plots, and easy to read, if quite repetitive, style. They both had plenty of sex and alcohol and intrigue. It's not what i am interested in reading about, but obviously it appeals to someone

Stay tuned next week for an example of teen fic doing it right, with Simone Howell's Notes on a Teenage Underground.



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