Title: The Society of S
Author: Susan Hubbard
I ran across this book at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago. Honestly, I wasn't looking to read another vampire novel for a while (with the exception of Revelations and Stargazer). In fact, when I found this book I was in the Film section. It had been misplaced, I suppose, or else someone was hiding it so they could come back and get it later. Who knows? I guess you could say I was destined to read more on my precious vamps.
Background on the book:Regardless, here a bit of Publisher's Weekly's review:
"Ariella Montero's mother vanished the day she was born, leaving her to the care of her overprotective scientist father, who homeschools her and limits her contact with the outside world. Only when she reaches adolescence does Ari discover that her special diet and insular home life set her apart from her peers. Her father's confession that he was vampirized shortly before marriage, and that Ari can choose whether to be undead like him or mortal like mom, set her off on a road trip that eventually brings her to her mother and into an understanding of tough truths about her family."
There are a lot of things I liked about this book and a few things that I didn't. So here we go:
Things I love:
- I love the fact that the book is written in first person and that we are learning about Ariella's life at the same time she is. I enjoy the immediacy. I think Hubbard does a good job of keeping her audience interested throughout the novel.
- I love her descriptions of characters, especially that of Mary Ellis Root. You have to love an evil character. It's like she has a Snape complex. You just love to hate her!
- I've always had a bit of a thing for Victorian homes. I just think they are so haunting. So imagine my delight when The Montero's live in one!
Also, really love the interior of the home. The contrast of the darkness of the library to the brightness of Ari's room and the apple green of the kitchen.
- This book has some interesting new deviations to the classic idea of the Vampire. In fact, in some ways, it reminds me of that show, True Blood, on HBO. For example, the vampires can use synthetic blood in replacement of human blood or a healthy supplement of highly charged mineral based foods in order to abstain from drinking human blood. They also have this pepper like thing called Sangfroid. It's pretty hilarious. Imagine your vampire mom carrying frozen up, pepper shaped blood around and sprinkling a healthy dose over each of your meals. Greatness.
- Something else I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that Ariella is half vampire, half mortal and has the choice of being either or. It's a nice twist to a coming-of-age tale. I like seeing how Ari used literature and science to try to find her place in the world. I also found her struggle with being of mixed heritage very engaging.
- I love that Ariella's father is a Poe fan and goes to a conference every January.
- I really like how Ariella instinctively knows things about her mother despite the fact that they've never met. Also really love that her mother sends her messages through her dreams.
- I find it interesting that Ari sees days of the week as certain colors. Also equally interesting is the fact that her father has an extreme sensitivity to patterns.
- Ari's journey from Saratoga Springs to Asheville. I love Ari's insight, "people are always leaving. They fall in and out of your life like shadows."
- LOVE Ari's magical suit from London. Also love that the tailors are like the CIA. haha
- When Ari meets Mr. Winters, I felt like there was something more to him, but that didn't really pan out. I wish we would have seen more of him. I really liked him as a character.
- I like Ariella's time in Savannah. In my mind, Savannah has always been an equally romantic and mysterious place. I find Sara's story of her time there very interesting as well.
- Hubbard successfully builds up tension in her story. I was desperate to find out who was following Ari by the end of the story (even thought I already had a hunch).
- While I didn't like Kathleen's death (mainly because I liked that Ari had a friend), I thought the way she died was clever. I also think the integration of the "Vampire cult" was pretty seamless and realistic.
- I love Sara, Ariella's mom. Love where she lives, love how she cooks, love the things she teaches Ariella, love her. Period.
- Love that Raphael is forced to live in Xanadu. I thought that was hilarious. Although I don't see his adversion to Coleridge. Also love that his name change is from Poe's, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
Things I dislike:
- My main problem with the book: I find it completely unrealistic that Ariella is thirteen. The fact that that she can pick up and travel the US by herself at that young age is equally unfeasible. I'm sorry, but thirteen year olds look young no matter how you cut it. I think this book would have been more realistic had Ari been sixteen rather than thirteen, not only to make her travels feasible, but also to make her diction appropriate.
- Here's my double edged sword. As I said before that I love the bits of information she gives us on everything from literature to science, but at the same time I dislike it because I feel that it breaks the focus of the narrative. It also sometimes feels a bit out of place and forced. I think the main reason I dislike it sometimes is because it's done so much! Seriously. I mean I know that Ariella is constantly learning new things, but come on... give the reader a break. Again, I love and hate this aspect of the book. I'm just not sure to which feeling I'm more inclined.
- Sometimes the dialog felt out of touch, especially at the McGarritt's.
- A sixteen year old boy going out with a thirteen year old girl? What? Ariella telling Michael that she's not going to lose her virginity in the front seat of a car? What? She's thirteen, for Christ sake! Why is she even talking about those things? ::cringe::
- In some ways, I felt that Ari's time in Asheville was just filler. I also found it a bit slow moving, although I did enjoy the characters she encountered there. I especially liked Jane, the rebel without a cause.
All in all: I like the book. I think it's smart, sophisticated and an interesting new perspective into the vampire world. I plan on reading part two of Ari's tale, The Year of Disappearances, soon. I'll let you guys know how that goes.
Rating for The Society of S: B+
Some useful links: Susan Hubbard's website, The Society of S Myspace