Alyxandra Harvey – Hearts at Stake
Length: 248 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Started: 19 February 2010
Finished: 21 February 2010
Where did it come from? From the publisher for review.
Why do I have it? See above.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 30 December 2009.
All she wants for her
sweet sixteen is not to get
a stake through the heart.
Summary: Turning sixteen is exciting enough for anyone, but for Solange Drake it’s a little more eventful than just birthday cake and a driver’s license. In a world where most vampires are made by the usual methods, the Drake family is different – they are born as humans, but undergo the bloodchange on their sixteenth birthday. All of Solange’s older brothers have undergone the painful and potentially deadly process, and now it’s her turn… but the bloodchange itself isn’t the only thing that could potentially kill her. Female genetic vampires are extremely rare, and an ancient prophecy speaks of one who will become the ruler of all the vampire clans… and the current Queen is none too pleased to think that someone might usurp her power. But Solange is not in the fight alone; her over-protective family, her all-too-human best friend Lucy, and even the rogue vampire hunter Kieran Black are all fighting to make sure Solange sees her sweet sixteen.
Review: This book was exactly what I needed at the right time. It was fast-moving, funny, attention-holding literary candy that didn’t demand too much thought and provided a few hours of entertainment and escapism. It’s jam-packed with romance and action and vampire history and snappy, realistic dialogue and some very Buffy-esque fight scenes, and it managed to suck me in quickly and keep me reading.
I had been avoiding it for a while, since I was kind of burnt-out on the teen paranormal romance front, and was fearing another Twilight knock-off. But, although there are vampires, and vampire-human relationships, Hearts at Stake has enough twists and turns and original angles to make it stand out from the pack. For one thing, it’s told in alternating chapters from Solange and Lucy’s points of view, which was for the most part a really effective way of keeping the story moving, although their voices were similar enough that I occasionally had a hard time keeping track of whose chapter was whose.
The two main female characters also meant that there was twice the romance of a normal book of this genre. Harvey’s good at writing the twitchy, palm-sweaty, slightly crazy nature of a fifteen-year-old’s crush, and the interactions between her characters felt natural and unforced. While the romance angle of this story was pretty predictable, and in places not as well developed as it could have been, I did enjoy the fact that there was a little bit of role-reversal going on; you’ve got your standard human girl/vampire boy pairing, but she’s largely immune to his supernatural charms… and there was also a human boy/vampire(-to-be) girl pairing to watch. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this book – it was fast and easy to read, which I was expecting, but was also a bunch of fun, and not at all the standard paranormal romance fare. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I’d recommend this to Buffy fans, or those who like reading about sassy girls dusting hordes of vamps… and more generally, to readers of YA paranormal romance who are starting to feel like they’ve seen it all already and want something fast, fun, and new.
Links: Alyxandra Harvey’s website
Other Reviews: Bloody Bookaholic, Book-lover Carol, Books by Their Cover, Bookworm Readers, Ink and Paper, Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf, My Favourite Books, My Fluttering Heart, My Friend Amy, The Not So Closet Geeks, Reading Rocks, SciFiGuy, The Story Siren
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Normally I wouldn’t have been caught dead at a field party. If you’ll pardon the pun.
Cover Thoughts: It’s okay, although nothing about it particularly grabs me and says “Read me!” either. At least it’s a different kind of half-headed girl than normal.