Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review — Vesper by Jeff Sampson

 Okay, so here's the thing about this week's Villette-Read-a-Long:  I'm behind.  Like chapters behind (they're LONG this week).  I know, I know I'm terrible.  I promise I'll post my Week Three thoughts this weekend when I've caught up.  In the meantime, have a review!

Summary (via Goodreads):  Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. 

And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?

Review: I feel like it's a rare YA book that keeps me guessing throughout the entire book, even more rare to not undermine the entire mystery with some cliched or obvious ending, so I was pleasantly surprised when Vesper managed an interesting mystery without making me roll my eyes when I got to the last page.

Vesper is hard to talk about because I'm wary of giving away any thing about the overall mystery.  Suffice it to say that just when I thought I knew what was going on, I was thrown in a completely new direction.  There were hints as to what was going on with Emily and the other kids in her town, but everything is so vague and clouded in mystery that I really couldn't take any one "explanation" as fact until the final reveal.  I will say that I thought Emily jumped to her suspicions about her "powers" a little to readily.  If I was suddenly acting like my sluttier evil twin come nightfall I don't know if I would jump to the conclusions she did.  In the end it made sense, but as she was in the library trying to figure out what was going on with her I found her choice of material a leap.  (See?  This is way hard to comment on without giving everything away!)

I really loved Emily in all of her sci-fi geeky-ness.  She'd totally be a girl I'd be best friends with in high school.  Heck, I think I was her in high school.  I could have dealt with about 40% less "I'm such a geek/have I told you that I'm a geek/really, I'm a HUGE geek, just look at all my Buffy paraphernalia."  I felt at a certain point like, okay I get it!  Stop beating a dead horse!  You're a geek.  Congrats. 

Interspersed with Emily trying to figure out just what the hell is happening to her are mini-chapters of her being questioned by a scientist what we assume is a few months in the future.  More than just creating a creepy Fringe vibe, these chapters really allow you to see how Emily evolves in future books.  She's pretty flippant and sarcastic and it only made me love her more for embracing her inner badass.  Even more, there's a logical explanation for why Emily's personality takes such a massive shift, when the other kids aren't suddenly making out with the local deputy and stealing cars.

My only big complaint, other than Emily's sudden logic jump about her condition, was the reveal of her love interest.  I felt like he wasn't established enough as a character to the point I went "who??" and had to go back to previous chapters to figure out who he was. The mystery might have been dragged out slightly too long because the action felt a little hurried and I would have liked to see more of Emily dealing with the revelation of what she is.

I hesitate to say anything else for fear of spoiling you guys, but, let me just say that I cannot freaking wait until the next Deviants book.  Jeff Sampson has a gift for keeping the reader guessing and has created a spooky, compelling series.  I'm excited to see what the deal is with some of the other kids in Emily's town.  There are hints of other powers going on and I'm eager to see what else is in store for these kids.

Lit Snit Verdict: B+

*I received an ARC of this book through Around the World ARC tours

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