Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com
In the second installment of the VAMPIRE BEACH series, Jason Freeman is still coming to grips with the fact that the popular kids at his new Malibu high school are all vampires. And why shouldn't the vamps be popular? They're beautiful and rich, and they throw the best parties. But Jason knows those parties are simply an excuse to drink blood from unwitting human guests. It's true that the humans aren't hurt, the vampires need blood to survive, and many of those vampires are Jason's friends, but still... Let's just say that Jason is feeling conflicted. Then when his best friend from the old neighborhood turns up unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances, Jason's problems multiply.
As with the first VAMPIRE BEACH book, I love the premise. When I was in high school, I often wondered what it was that made the popular crowd so special. I could wear the same clothes they wore and sport the same hairstyle, but still something was missing. Maybe they were all secretly blood-sucking monsters. That would explain a lot.
But, again, just like the first book in this series, the execution of the great premise left me cold. For one thing, this book is too short. I wanted it to delve more deeply into the characters and their lives. So much could have been going on in this vampire-run town, and I was constantly disappointed that the author wasn't exploring those things. I was also bothered by the fact that there were some pretty improbable actions being taken by people in this story. For example, if you're hiding in a roomful of vampires and your cell phone goes off, wouldn't it be odd if the vamps still didn't notice you were there? The reactions and explanations sometimes felt contrived and highly unlikely, which detracted from the story.
In the plus column, this book seemed to have toned down the first book's uncomfortable attempts to use current teenage language. Or if it didn't tone them down, then I must have gotten used to them. Either way, it didn't grate on me the way it had in VAMPIRE BEACH: BLOODLUST. Also, this story was interesting and it had a few twists and turns that kept me turning the pages eagerly.
Overall, this is an intriguing book. I like the premise, the characters, and the story itself. Be warned, though, that this one is for older readers. Like BLOODLUST, it contains references to alcohol and drug use, as well as some sexual activity and a little swearing. As for this book's problems, my chief complaint is that it left me wanting much more.