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Justin Somper – Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean

March 20, 2009

30. Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper (2005)
Vampirates, Book 1

Length: 330 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 15 March 2009
Finished: 17 March 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 30 December 2008 (part of this year’s SantaThing package)
Verdict? Probably a keeper, although I’ll most likely get the sequels from the library rather than the bookstore.

Vampire pirates.
That’s all you need to know, right?

Summary: Grace and Connor Tempest’s father, the lighthouse keeper, has always sung them to sleep with a sea shanty about the Vampirates, bloodsucking fiends that wander the ocean. When their father dies and the twins are forced to leave their home, they take to sea, only to be have a giant storm wreck their ship. Connor gets picked up by a motley pirate crew, while Grace gets rescued by a ship with tattered black sails, whose inhabitants never venture out during the day, and whose captain can read her mind. Both are convinced that their twin is alive, and both must adapt to their new environments, and survive the dangers long enough to find each other again.

Review: There are very few books that I am so embarassed to be reading that I try to hide them… but this was one. Not that it was all that bad, but when someone goes “Hey, whatcha reading?” and I hold up the book, and I can see their progression of thoughts go “Vam…pirates. Vampirates. That can’t possibly be what I think it is, can it? But… vampire pirates. Reeeeally.”, there was a little piece of my dignity that died. It’s not a terrible book, but the whole concept is just so over-the-top that I did occasionally wish I had a book jacket to hide the cover, so I could read anonymously.

Because it hits so many current cultural trends at once (next up: Vampirate ninja LOLcats!), there’s plenty of appeal to this book, and on the whole it manages to pull off a fun little supernatural action-adventure. It also didn’t hurt that I’ve got a crazy affinity for anything nautical, so that probably bumped my rating up at least half a star relative to someone who doesn’t listen to sea shanties for fun. I also appreciated that one of the main characters was a girl, and that there’s a few slight hints of romance stirred into the action, and plenty of mysteries to unravel – although that’s clearly coming in the sequels; this book ultimately didn’t provide a lot of answers.

I did have some fairly large problems with the story, however. The first was the author’s decision to set it 500 years in the future. Apparently in 2505, instead of spaceships we have pirate ships… and pirate academies… and pirate vampires. Of course. This book would have worked just as well if not better as supernatural historical fiction, or in some generic fantasy universe, so unless there’s a logical reason for setting it in the future that will be explained in the sequels, it seems random and out of place, and I’m just not buying it. Also, the writing itself didn’t do much for me. There are a lot of good guys, a few mysterious-but-clearly-good-at-heart guys, and only one bad guy, and I never really felt a sense of menace or danger… which is problematic when you’re reading a book about VAMPIRE PIRATES. I mean, really. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: A fun fantasy adventure that leans pretty heavily on its cultural “cool!” factor. Not really any better or worse then much of the mid-grade fantasy-adventure books I’ve been reading recently, but the fact that it’s about boats gives it a little bit of an edge. :)

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Justin Somper’s home page

Other Reviews: Bookshelves of Doom, Tiny Little Reading Room, Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog, Books and Other Thoughts
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: As the first crack of thunder broke over Crescent Moon Bay, Grace Tempest opened her eyes.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 183: “She stepped back out of Bart’s way. “A mollinet, if you please, Bartholomew.” – Means “little windmill” and describes the action of pivoting the blade (and arm) in circles, passing low ans to the back and then around high and forward, on either the inside or outside lines; or high and low to the crotch or vertical to the head.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2009 3:15 pm

    Now this sounds seriously cool! Love, love, love vampires and I’ve recently jumped on the pirate boat too.

  2. March 20, 2009 10:26 pm

    I’ve looked at this one a dozen (or more) times and haven’t been able to bring myself to read it. I’m not sure if I will really like it, but I think I’ll see if the library has it…

  3. March 21, 2009 2:43 pm

    That is funny that you were embarrassed about reading this one. Apparently I no longer have any pride whatsoever. :-) My library shelves this with the chapter books for younger kids, not the teen books – so the younger audience may be why there was a lack of real menace. I reviewed this one here: I guess the fact that I haven’t yet felt the need to continue the series says something – but let me know when the vampirate ninja lolcats book comes out, and I’m in! :-D

  4. March 21, 2009 4:48 pm

    You had me at VAMPIRATES! I am so going to start reading these.

  5. March 21, 2009 5:07 pm

    Ladytink – Pirate boat, har har. :) Sounds like this one would be up your alley!

    KT – They’re fun and don’t take very long, but I think the library’s a good bet.

    Darla – Thanks for the link; I’ve added it. I wasn’t expecting it to be extraordinarily dark, given the audience, but I was a little put off by how basically *everyone* was a white hat.

    sagustocox – Hee, well, that was easy! :)

  6. Conan permalink
    March 29, 2009 1:27 pm

    Had a hard time warming up to this one. Seemed to me a book written to cash in on what’s popular at the time, I also felt it did not seem able to decide which way to go … scary, funny …. the kids in school seem to love it though

  7. March 30, 2009 10:59 am

    Conan – I can absolutely see 10 year olds being wild about this book, but it was disappointing that it didn’t transfer to an older bracket so well.


  1. Justin Somper - Vampirates: Tide of Terror « Fyrefly’s Book Blog
  2. Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper « Koorihime-sama's Book Reviews

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