Just a warning: this review begins somewhat harsh, but becomes nicer. I promise. The Vampire Kisses series happens to be a series that I have kept reading mostly because I keep receiving review copies. Otherwise, I would have stopped after the first novel. The impressions of the first novel stayed with me for quite awhile, and I believe for valid reasons.
My two main issues were Raven as a goth and Raven’s relationship with Alexander. As both of those are central to the books, it did cause quite a problem.
Let’s start with the goth problem. For those who are wondering, I am not gothic. I am a punk, but do not think that makes me unqualified. I am fascinated by subcultures, which helped me greatly on an AP essay in my junior year (Basically, ‘The 1950s were a time of great conformity. Is this true or was counterculture already forming?’). Raven really rubbed me the wrong way because of how she viewed herself as a complete outsider in Dullsville because they could not accept her black-clad self. I always felt the town she lived in would be a lot more inviting if she stopped viewing it in her head as “Dullsville.” I also felt like she constantly put her clothes forth as an excuse for being an outsider in Dullsville (and an insider in Hipsterville). Besides being highly unlikely (hello, goth is *gag* trendy), this completely misses the point of being a goth. It’s about love. Love of the music, love of the clothes, love, love, love (well, hate of the culture against which it is reacting). Finally, in this book, I felt like Raven actually did find meaning in her clothes other than identification of her status as an outsider, due to this conversation with her hippie aunt:
“I can’t imagine you any other way. The way you dress is who you are. It’s more than beads and bangles. You aren’t doing it to be like someone else, or fit in.”
. . .
“. . . I don’t wear tattoos to freak her out; I wear them because I have to. It’s me.”
Aunt Libby paused.
“My mother never understood my inner style, either,” she confessed. “That’s what it is, really,” she said wisely. “It’s not about designers or labels but self-expression. And attitude.”
Next, let’s move to the problem of her relationship with Alexander. I find her approach to the relationship creepy. Replace “goth” and “vampire” with “golddigger” and “trust-fund baby” and you might see what I mean. Often I feel Raven only became attracted to Alexander because he’s a vampire and he dresses in black too. Not a foundation for a lasting relationship. Of course, a lasting relationship is what she’s running into headlong. THE COFFIN CLUB forces Raven to consider aspects of becoming a vampire she never bothered to slow down and think about before. Including, sadly, the fact she would have to drink blood. As she says about herself, “I thought I was being investigative and mature when perhaps I was only being reckless.” She needs to take that lesson and apply it to her entire life. Raven doesn’t yet possess the maturity to tie herself to one person for eternity. She needs to realize that.
As for the rest of the novel, THE COFFIN CLUB is an extremely quick (192 pages) but entertaining read. There’s family bonding, some cute romantic moments, and tension between the two factions seeking control of the club. Girly-girl vamps Scarlet and Onyx are now my favorite part of the series. They’re idealistic, loyal, and I hope they show up again to steal the show in future installments.
THE COFFIN CLUB will be on-sale June 24, 2008. Find out more about the series here.