Friday, 22 March 2013

Review: Dinner with a Vampire (The Dark Heroine) by Abigail Gibbs

Published by: Harper Voyager
Release date: 11th October 2012
Series: The Dark Heroine #1
I got it from: Charity shop

" 'Even if that were so, how could I be happy as a vampire? There is no chance of me actually liking the idea of living forever. It's hopeless!'
Kasper faced straight ahead, glancing in his side mirror. He spoke softly, something like caring in his voice.'You don't know that, Girly! One day you might just find something worth living an eternity for.'

Goodreads summary:
For Violet Lee, a chance encounter on a darkened street draws her into a world beyond her wildest imaginings, a timeless place of vast elegance and immeasurable wealth – of beautiful mansions and lavish parties – where a decadent group of friends live for pleasure alone. A place from which there is no matter how hard Violet tries.

Yet all the riches in the world can’t mask the darkness that lies beneath the gilded surface, embodied in the charismatic but dangerous Kaspar Varn.

Violet and Kaspar surrender to a passion that transcends their separate worlds – but it’s a passion that comes at a price...

My review:
I've had this book on my 'to read' list for a while, so I couldn't believe my luck when I came across it in a charity shop. I was interested in it because a) I like vampires, b) it's British, and there is not enough Brit YA fiction out there, a c) as a writing myself I was intrigued by this 'online sensation'. So apparently Gibbs started posting the story on Wattpad when she was just 15, built up a huge following and got picked up by a publisher. What I find strange is the fact that they appear to have forgotten to edit it before publishing.

I don't like writing bad reviews, but there are a number of aspects of this book that I just can't get over. I didn't realise the author was so young when I first started reading the book, but by the time I got about a third of the way in, I had to look it up and find out what the deal was. When I read that she was just 15 when she started writing, I thought 'Ahh, that explains a lot.' It reads like it was written by a 15 year-old a lot of the time, with glaringly obvious grammatical errors and annoying lightning-quick changes of heart. Then I read a bit further, and thought 'woah, that is one messed-up kid'. There are a lot of reviews slating the abusive nature of the relationship between the two main characters of the book. For me, some of the scenes were quite surprising, and made me think that this is not really a YA book after all, but an adult book. Having said that, I actually admire Gibbs for making the bad-boy hero bad for real. Girls love a dangerous boy, but too often they turn out to be far nicer than you really want them to be. Not so our Kaspar Varn - here is a real bad-boy. He's arrogant, he's a monster, and he's sexy. Yes, he treats the heroine Violet badly sometimes, but this is fiction. He also drinks blood, but I don't see reviews taking him to task for that.

I found the book a strange combination of weirdly addictive and annoyingly bad. I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to Violet, but I kept getting distracted by editing it in my head and having to re-read pages now and again to get around the random twists and plot holes. It's like a weird cross between Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, but written by a school-girl. Gibbs definitely has talent, but the book really would have benefited from some decent editing. 

I don't think I've ever felt this conflicted about a book before. One one hand, it's hard to get past the technical mistakes, and the addition of parallel dimensions totally threw me. On the other hand, there's something about it that makes me want to keep reading. I even want to read the next book in the series to see what happens to Violet and Kaspar. I'm also very intrigued to see if Gibbs' writing has improved at all. Dinner with a Vampire is a perverse combination of disgraceful and enthralling. Read it if you dare!

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