From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Jenkins has created a taut and compelling reimagining of the vampire legend, with well-developed characters that transcend horror-novel cliché. When Cole is summoned to the Building in upper Manhattan, he's not sure what to expect, having spent decades away from the place. While other hemovores relax in one of the few safe havens available to their kind, the austere and self-sufficient Cole prefers the freedom of the open road, despite the obvious risks: the difficulty of attaining one's next meal, the necessity of hiding one's true identity, and, of course, a little problem with sunlight. The reason for Cole's presence at the Building soon becomes clear when Gordon, an inadvertently created heme with a bad attitude and a dangerous lack of experience, nearly kills a young woman in an overzealous feed. Heme leader Johnny asks Cole to take Gordon out on the road, where he can be trained in the skills he'll need in his new lifestyle, away from the too-easy comfort of the Building. Success is paramount: it simply isn't prudent to have an uncontrolled blood-drinker on the loose, and should the effort fail, Gordon will have to be disposed of. The plot is suspenseful and well paced, with hints of romance as Cole's worries for Gordon call up dark memories of his own past. A surefire hit for vampire-loving teens.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City
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The author of Printz Honor winner Repossessed (2007), about a demon’s jaunt to high school, returns to the dark fantasy genre with this intriguing novel set among “hemovores” (blood-drinkers who eschew the term vampire). Though this offers plenty of visceral writing about the thrill of taking “feeds,” Jenkins’ primary focus is on the relationships among three male hemavores on a road trip rather than on the sensual romance typical of YA vampire fiction. Intended as an opportunity for old-timers Cole and Sandor to mentor Gordon, a deeply traumatized new “heme,” the journey serves as a metaphor for quintessential themes of male coming-of-age, especially the struggle to tame primal urges. However, the characters’ emotional breakthroughs occasionally feel forced, and although all three are outwardly young adults, the greatest emphasis falls on neurotic, world-weary Cole rather than on Gordon, the character to whom teen readers may feel the strongest connection. Still, Jenkins achieves a thematic depth unusual in YA vampire fiction, and her focus on guy cameraderie may draw boys to a genre more typically read by girls. Grades 8-12. --Jennifer Mattson