Scale of 1-10: 2.5
Pros: Spunky heroine who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and be who she is, and more importantly, does not fit the norm.
Cons: Kitschy vernacular wore on my nerves and was caricatured, while some of the dialogue was downright painful.
Synopsis: 16-year-old Raven has wanted to be a vampire since she was 5. On the day she turns 16, a mysterious new family moves into the old mansion down the street - the very same "haunted" mansion that Raven snuck into back when she was 12. A rumor starts that the family are vampires, which thrills Raven, and antagonizes her archnemesis Trevor, the town superstar. It's outcast vs. hunk, with Raven's future love at stake. (stake - get it?! bygones.*)
*(i would have peppered this entry with vampire puns, but the book really burned me out on them for at least the next 100 years; all the holy water in the land couldn't make me pony up another one.)
My take: Ouch. There's good stuff for teens, and then there's everything else. Ellen Schreiber's Vampire Kisses falls into the everything else category. About the nicest thing I can say about it is that it wasn't awful and is a quick read. Sadly, that's not saying much.
Schreiber needs to spend more time with teens (or at least with the entertainment they enjoy), and she seems to have trouble finding her voice and staying with it. After a brief and promising introduction of sorts, Vampire Kisses lapses into a too-cute-to-be-hip tale of Raven's early school years and the birth of her baby brother before switching to the present day and adopting a too-cool-for-school attitude that would work if it were actually as hip as it tries to be, but is instead very much geek trying for goth and way missing the mark. I can not imagine Schreiber was at all anything but a geek or wannabe during her teen years, as she manages to nail the nerdy aspects of her main character completely while completely missing anything even remotely cool about the self-described "Goth Girl." Her prose is so juvenile as to occasionally dip into silly, and at times the narrative is rushed, jumping from one scene or moment to the next without any connective tissue. In addition, Schreiber relies heavily on the use of "catchy" (if only) nicknames and seems to think that assigning them to things (Goth Girl, Goth Guy, Nerd Boy, Creepy Man, Monster Chick, Dullsville) makes one hip and her lingo tight. And it might, if she were a more talented writer or gifted mimic of the Joss Whedon School of Vernacular; unfortunately, their relentless cheese factor and high rate of repetition is fairly annoying, as is Schreiber's lazy use of them to establish character. Throughout her novel, Schreiber's hip shots miss their mark, calling more attention to that fact than to actually imbue the book with any semblance of teen cred, though there are stretches which did not bother me, where Schreiber seemed to forget she was supposed to be hip and cool and just wrote.
Many authors writing teen fiction seem to think they need to dumb down for their audience, and unfortunately, Schreiber seems to have fallen into that trap. Her book alternates between being right on track - when Raven schools her nemesis Trevor, for instance - and wildly missing it's mark - Raven's dinner at the mansion. Don't get me started on the romantic dialogue. I wouldn't have bought it when I was 13, let alone 16 or 17, it was so painfully wooden and obvious, and I doubt there's a vampire pun or reference Schreiber left untouched.
Vampire Kisses is book 1 in a series, and it definitely leaves the reader hanging in an attempt to lead sales for book 2. I'll pass. Schreiber would have benefitted by watching a few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before she started writing her series. Sadly, the best thing about Vampire Kisses is the synopsis on the back cover. A synopsis Schreiber clearly didn't write.