|TITLE: Drain You AUTHOR: M. Beth Bloom|
PUB:HarperTeen PUB DATE: 7/24/12
FORMAT: ARC, 400 pages
SOURCE: from pub for review
Every night I'd lie there in bed and look out at the hills behind our house, listening. I knew there'd be consequences. Actions meant reactions. Sunrises meant sunsets. My fear was too permanent, lasting longer than eyeliner, something I wore every day and didn't wash off. Quinlan Lacey's life is a red carpet of weird fashions, hip bands, random parties, and chilling by the pool with her on-and-off BFF Libby. There's also her boring job (minimum wage), a crushed-out coworker (way too interested), her summer plans (nada), and her parents (totally clueless). Then one night she meets gorgeous James, and Quinn's whole world turns crazy, Technicolor, 3-D, fireworks, whatever. But with good comes bad and unfortunately, Quinn's new romance brings with it some majorly evil baggage. Now, to make things right, she has to do a lot of things wrong (breaking and entering, kidnapping, lying, you name it). There's normal, and then there's paranormal, and neither are Quinlan's cup of Diet Coke. Staying sane, cool, in love, and alive isn't so easy breezy.
MY REVIEW: Drain You by M. Beth Bloom has such a cool cover and intriguing premise that I went into expecting a chilling, refreshing vampire story. What I got was a predictable, trite, hot mess of a story!
Quinn Lacey’s life isn’t exactly exciting, even if her BFF is the daughter of a famous rockstar. She thinks her summer will be spent at her boring job at the video store, hanging by the pool, partying with her BFF, obsessing over music, avoiding her clueless parents and keeping her way-too-interested co-worker at bay. But then she meets handsome, mysterious James and her summer suddenly becomes anything but boring. Quinn and James fall for each other fast, but James comes with a lot of baggage…the kind of baggage that could get a girl killed. James is a vampire and he isn’t the only one in town. When her BFF Libby becomes entangled with a group of dangerous vampires, Quinn must try and save her, but her plans are thwarted when James leaves for her own good. Thank goodness James’s cute, helpful brother Whit comes to town. But James isn’t gone for long and the whole gang finds themselves in danger.
Drain You certainly has its entertaining elements (good music, a fun time period setting and a cute boy in tortoise-shell glasses), but it also suffers from a tired storyline, flat characters, eye-roll inducing romance and a lackluster plot.
The exact year that this story takes place is never given, but there are enough clues and details given to deduce that it takes place in the mid-late nineties. As a child of the 90’s myself, I really liked the fun flashback to my own early teen years. Quinn is quite the music lover and there’s some really awesome music discussed and lyrics used throughout the story. I also think that this time setting has the potential to create a refreshing vampire story because it takes place before the big “vampire trend” in pop culture, allowing for a more gritty and less romanticized story than we’re used to in YA…unfortunately, this doesn’t happen.
**I’m going to talk about the basic overall storyline so there may be spoilers**
The story in this book follows a very predictable and overused storyline: loner/not-really-popular teen girl meets mysterious hot guy, they fall in love, she finds out he’s a dangerous vampire/werewolf/angel/shifter/fairy/alien/mer/unicorn/cupcake-in-disguise/etc., she loves him too much too care, they get hot and heavy, he leaves for “her own good”, she is comforted by the sweet-always-there BFF-guy but is too in love with the “bad boy” who left to love the good guy until one day she actually realizes that Hey! Maybe my sweet, caring, respectful BFF would be an awesome boyfriend, but of course by then the first guy comes back and ruins that smart line of thinking and then a bunch of other stuff happens, usually a bad guy or two show ups and the hunky boyfriend must save the heroine, and finally the book ends…
Whew (did you read that in one big breathe because I did while writing it?!) Yeah, we all know the plotline well and Drain You follows it closely and doesn’t really add anything new or original to shake things up or set it apart. While reading this book I just kept thinking I’ve read this a hundred times before. The names and settings may have been different, but the song is the same.
The predictability of the storyline could have been ignored if the main characters were engaging, likable and well-developed. Most of them aren’t. Quinn’s characterization and development were kind of all over the place in this book. I actually really liked her in the beginning; she was snarky, witty and flawed and damaged in an intriguing way. But, instead of growing throughout the book she actually regresses until, by the end of the book, she’s a selfish, thoughtless, needy, whiny, dependent, pathetic puddle of our once-likable heroine. And why does this happen? One word: James.
James- the mysterious, hot, too cool for school vampire. James is not a sparkly, vegetarian vampire (which is a good thing); he’s a bloodthirsty, human draining vampire. He kills people just to keep himself fed and as a reader I needed a reason to like him despite this, a reason to believe that Quinn’s love for him is ok despite his murderous ways. This reason never appears and to makes things worse James is a flat, dull, barely developed character. He’s there (being slightly creepy and stalkerish), then he isn’t, then he is, and I could have cared less about him the whole time.
And the romance between these two is unbearably insta-love. There is absolutely no development or evolution to their relationship; they go from strangers to so in love lovers quickly. Too quickly. And after the two share a night of intimacy, James decides that he must leave for a little while, for her own good *insert me rolling my eyes*. But his absence does bring my favorite character into this picture…
Whit, James’s brother, is the one shining gem among this group of dull characters. I loved Whit’ humor, his glasses, his taste in music and movies, his compassion and thoughtfulness. Whit quickly becomes Quinn’s new BFF and for a brief time he brings out the Quinn I liked in the beginning of the book.
The antagonists were equally disappointing. From the premise, I was expecting a horde of bloodthirsty vampires, when really all we got is four, preppy, asshat vampires. Did they do “bad guy” things? Sure. Were they intriguing or exude a captivating villainy? Not really.
There’s a definite tension between these baddies and our heroine and her boys, tension that does lead to a climatic event, but there’s very little action. And the conclusion is quite abrupt and left me very confused and let down.
I must mention a few other things that either confused or distracted me:
· *The overuse of the word like. This words was, like, used in, like, every other sentence of, like, dialogue…I’m not exaggerating. It got to the point where I had to skip over this word because I couldn’t stand to read it anymore.
· *James, Whit and their sister Naomi all wear a gold chain with a small gold cross and Quinn mentions these often but no explanation as to their significance is given.
· * The author often spends an entire page or two just describing what Quinn is wearing.
· * The lack of parental…anything? Quinn stays out all night and walks home alone at night after work and her parents are totally okay with this?!
· * Quinn is a music buff and lover but she doesn’t know who Robert Plant is or recognize Led Zeppelin lyrics…not cool >_<
· * Diet Coke! Quinn drinks SO much Diet Coke; seriously, she’s drinking a can almost every three pages or so. By the end of the book, even my bladder was full and I had nothing to drink.
And then there are several excerpts I want share:
· “Empty windows of nothingness punctuated by meaningless details involving totally mundane nonevents.”…I know break-ups are hard, especially when you’re a teen, but this is just way too overwrought and dramatic for me to take Quinn seriously.
· “My pocket was empty. My heart was emptier.”…sounds more like a country song than something a teen would say.
· “I couldn’t sleep until I eventually fell asleep…”…umm, thanks for that clarification?
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Drain You was too predictable, too trite, too full of insta-love and lackluster characters for me to truly enjoy it. If you’re looking for an exciting vampire story then this one isn’t for you.
M. Beth Bloom is a musician, video artist, and writer. Her fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly and Dave Eggers's Best American Non-Required Reading series. She lives in Los Angeles.