Sink Your Fangs Into This!
Aha! I didn't disappear for eight months again, and so I am back! As promised, I am here to present a book I read not to long ago, that to my surprise blew me away. A tale of magic, mystery, and marauders- not to mention those with a blood-curdling secret. So it's time to raise our sails and begin our voyage to the world of Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper.
Connor and Grace Tempest have spent their whole lives listening to their father's bedtime shanty of the fearsome Vampirates; blood sucking monsters who sail the seven seas for their next bounty. They never expected any of it to be true, but as they will soon learn, some things should be left in fiction.
After learning of their father's death, Grace and Connor would much rather drown than be adopted by the stuffy Bubsy family. Escaping to sea, the twins are separated in a shipwreck. While Connor is rescued by Captian Wrathe and his pirate crew aboard The Diablo, Grace finds herself on a much stranger ship, hidden away in the cabin by an even stranger boy who begs her to not go outside.
As the twins learn to adapt to a pirate's life, Connor is determined to track down his sister, while Grace is consumed with curiosity surrounding the ship and the strange secrets of the crew. What she will discover is more bloody than she could imagine- the Vampirates are real, and she is among them.
MY THOUGHTS Now, to anyone who knows me IRL, it's no surprise I love vampires. If you were to walk into my room, one of my most apparent possessions is my extensive collection of vampire novels. I actually just recently ran out of space on my vampire shelf. Yes, I suppose you could say I am obsessed.
Now, I enjoy Twilight as much as the next person, but sometimes one craves a vampire book a little more... juicy. Maybe something a bit more creative. So as I perused the YA/middle grade section of the Value Village book aisle (a total hotspot for vamp books; I don't know WHO donates them all, but there's always a huge selection) Vampirates caught my eye. I mean, I love pirates, and I LOVE vampires, so how could you lose?
To be frank, I didn't go into Vampirates with high expectations. I only really bought this book because my mom deemed Vampire Beach "too sexy," and I didn't want to miss out on Value Village's epic "buy four get one free"-deal. I don't really read Middle Grade novels unless they're a book I enjoyed when I was younger, or if they were recommended to me, so I was going out on a limb with this one. A vampire and pirate-powered limb.
But I am more than happy to say I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I found
myself invested in the characters of Lorcan and the Vampirate Captain, and was patiently peeing myself waiting for Connor to find Grace. I was also quite intrigued by the relationship of the human feeders and the vampires, how they had that buddy system. That's something I hadn't seen explored before, so it was refreshing to see.
One thing I think Vampirates suffers from is lack of character exploration. When Grace and Connor's dad died, I felt a little confused about their reaction. They did have their moments, but for the most part they seemed a little complacent about the whole thing. I think it would have been nicer to explore more of their emotions, maybe build a bit more off them and their dad's relationship.
The same could be said for Captain Wrathe's crew. I really liked Cheng Li, and she seemed like she would be a more prominent character, but as the book went on she just faded into the background. Near the beginning we're introduced to a few pirates, like Cutlass Cate. At first I thought they were just background characters, but to my surprise they came up again and again in the book, sometimes even having decent roles. But I don't think they were used enough. They could've had more fleshing out, but sometimes they felt a bit discarded. Why even give them a role if you're not going to reuse them?
But those are mostly nitpicks. This book is a series after all, and maybe the characters will be fixed in the next entries. There's still an overwhelming amount of good in this book, from the nonchalant discussion of death (something often tip-toed around in kid's books), to the fascinating characters, like the 1920's flapper girl Darcy Flotsam, a possessed statue who stands unmoving at the ship's hull fourteen hours a day to act as the figurehead.
Vampirates was a surprisingly good novel that I'm still thinking about, months after reading it. The ideas presented here were interesting and new, and I am more than exited to read the next book just to see what the author will come up with.
This has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities the middle grade genre has to offer, and I sure won't be hesitant to check that section out next time I'm at Value Village.
Keep Reading! -Valkyrie