Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

This book was a surprise in a totally different way than the last one. Now, unless you haven't paid any attention to what's going on in publishing these days, you've probably already heard of Amanda Hocking.  She's one of the sensations of the epub world, selling a humongous number of books in a short time.

I have to admit that I didn't expect much from this book. I still have a certain snobbery and bias towards traditionally published authors. The perception that those who find an agent and a publisher are superior to those who don't and publish their books themselves hangs on in my brain, despite evidence to the contrary. And I did read somewhere that Amanda Hocking had tried querying agents with her books and gotten her share of rejections before deciding to self-publish.

Then there's the fact that she offers the first book in each series for 99 cents and the sequels for $2.99. Again, I have a bias towards "You get what you pay for."

Lastly, I understood this to be a paranormal romance, which is not my genre of choice. I just don't get what the obsession is with vampires. I even described her work as probably being a "Twilight" knockoff before I read it. I didn't much enjoy "Twilight" and I wasn't eager to read anything similar for a long time.

You can see that with all of my prejudices against  "My Blood Approves", it's a wonder I ever got around to reading it at all. But Amanda Hocking did recently sign with a traditional publisher, I've read interviews with her, and all the people buying her books couldn't be totally wrong, so I finally started this book.

There's a reason she sells so well. The woman knows how to tell a story.

Her characters are real. Alice, the seventeen-year-old whose story this is, rings true. She's not particularly interested in school. Her life consists of hanging out with her friend Jane, listening to her iPod, and spending time with her younger brother Milo while their mother works the night shift. Milo is the nearest to an adult character in this novel. He cooks the meals, chides Alice about staying out late at night, and tries to keep peace with their mother. The family dynamics work.

Then Alice meets Jack and everything changes. From the beginning, there's something different about Jack. For one thing, although Alice never tells him exactly where she lives or where she's at when she texts him, he always seems to know just where to find her. His skin is cool. It doesn't feel like real, living skin. Everyone he meets falls a bit in love with him, except Alice. And there's obviously a secret that he's keeping from her.

School becomes even less important as Alice spends all her free time with Jack. There's an attraction that she can't quite explain, but what he finds intriguing that she isn't hypnotized by his presence like other people are.

I don't want to say too much more about this book because I think the reader should discover the story on their own. I wouldn't want to give away too much of what happens.

The fact that I remember all the characters' names several days after finishing the book is amazing enough. Usually, once I move on to the next book, I quickly forget details of the last one I read. But not in this case. The characters are so well drawn and the conflict so engaging, I'm having trouble not rushing back to the Barnes and Noble site to download the rest of the series.

This is highly recommended. Great job, Amanda!
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