Argh this book. I really feel like this was a book I should have liked - we are, for once in a YA title, given a reprieve from teenage angst and high school drama, and the traditional formula of "girl meets boy, must discover what boy is/how this relates to her". Blood Rights creates a very detailed, unique world and just drops us in to the middle of the story - both things I typically enjoy - and features a hero and heroine who are genuinely relatively equal in terms of strength and competence, also something I'm usually left wishing for.
Unfortunately, it's also incredibly boring.
There are other issues I had with the book that inflamed my rage a bit more, and we'll get to them, but by and large I really feel that my biggest problem with the book was that I just did not care. Not even a little. Not for the plot, not for Mal, and not for Chrys. It took nearly a week and a half to finish Blood Rights - on my lunch breaks - because I just could not summon up the will to read it at home. It didn't suck me in.
This is pretty unfortunate, because Blood Rights had the potential to be a good book. The world is fairly rich and detailed, and the take on vampires is distinctively '90's retro - in that, you know, they are actually evil. Another review mentioned that Rights' world was very reminiscent of "Vampire the Masquerade", and I'd have to agree. It struck me as something of a '90's mash-up - bits of Blade, Masquerade, and Buffy. The vampires are more often than not adults (no immortal high school students here!), sophisticated, rich, and generally unfriendly. They don't want to cuddle and snug and chastely romance you - they want to rip open your throat and drink your blood.
I enjoyed the ideas here, and while they're not exactly groundbreaking, they're ideas that are not very widely-explored in YA. Blood Right's world and focus felt more mature than the last few vampire books I've read; the stakes were higher, the characters more experienced, and the world a bit grittier.
Unfortunately, "more experienced" doesn't always mean "more interesting". The spark of life, of individuality, was totally missing from these characters for me. For example, Mal was Angel. I don't mean this in the usual archetypal, brooding, loop-him-in-with-Stefan-and-Edward-Cullen kind of way, I mean that I would not be surprised if the character was able to trace his lineage back to an Angel or Buffy-based fanfic. He is a vampire who rampaged across Europe and was then cursed to feel remorse for all the people he'd killed, in this case by having all their voices trapped in his head, and their names magically tattooed all over his skin. When he learns that any human he kills following the curse being put into effect will end up being bound to him as a ghost, he stops drinking human blood all together.
So yeah, pretty much season-one Angel, except he only metaphorically lost and then regained his soul. Also, vengeful ex on hand to make the heroine's life a living Hell? Check. IDK, even with his curse, Mal in general was just...flavorless. Another angsty and tortured but inherently noble vampire love interest to add to the ever-growing list. Boring. I honestly cannot think of a single trait or personality quirk that would differentiate Mal from any of the dozens of vampires like this that populate this genre.
Chrysabelle, on the other hand, was more actively problematic for me. I just could not get down with her, and I have to put it down as a combination of a) not being able to relate to her, b) the stock personality, c) her frustrating decisions, and d) the way the book utterly worships her...
Read more at You're Killing.Us