CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 37 . . . . May 27, 2011
Amy adores Alexander Banks, but there is a problem with their relationship – he is a character in her favourite series of novels. Imagine her shock when fiction becomes fact and Alexander enters Amy's world in order to hunt down and kill Vigo, the leader of the vampires in Otherworld. The fates of the vampire and his stalker are intertwined, and only one of them can continue to exist.
Allison Van Diepen has written a novel which will please both avid readers and reluctant readers. Although the cover seems aimed at a primarily female audience, boys would also enjoy the intrigue and adventure of the plot. The short chapters and the use of plenty of white space on each page make the book attractive for reluctant readers. The action keeps readers on the edge of their seats as Alexander hunts down the vampire who is on a killing spree in present-day Chicago. Amy does her best to help him, by, for instance, teaching him to use modern technology. However this makes her Vigo's next target and pulls her further into the dark and dangerous vampire world which she thought existed only in books.
Van Diepen's characters are realistic in their actions and their speech. Clearly, the author understands teenagers, thanks to her career as a high school teacher. The main characters carry the plot, but the cast is expanded with Amy's girlfriends, the jock squad at school, Amy's mom and younger sister Chrissy and, of course, the vampires who have found the portal leading from their world to ours. Even the school librarian has an important role!
This young adult novel will appeal on many levels to many readers. Some will like the vampire fantasy theme while other will enjoy the mystery and thrill of the chase as Alexander attempts to find and stop Vigo before he kills yet again. There is a strong romantic theme as well when Amy finds herself attracted to the real Alexander even more than to his fictional counterpart.
Van Diepen has written several novels for teens and is a popular choice for a variety of audiences. Undoubtedly many of her readers will have the same reaction as Amy when they know a new Van Diepen novel is on the shelves in book stores and libraries: "Hands tingling with anticipation, I opened the book" (page 7). Please, Allison, don't keep your fans waiting too long for the next novel!
Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a retired teacher-librarian (who never starred in a vampire novel!) and teacher of high school English and French.
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