Biting teen tale
H, I really felt my age while reading this book. I am a fan of young adult (YA) fiction and have never felt that YA books were too “young” for me, despite having graduated out of my teens a while back. That is, until I read this book. Isle Of Night is definitely one of those Twilight- inspired publications, albeit with the twist that neither its heroine nor hero are – or want to be – vampires.
They are, however, in service to vampires, who follow the more traditional mode of really good-looking, sexy, bloodthirsty monsters, and who are apparently an all-males club only.
Seventeen-year-old Annelise Drew is desperate to get out of her house, and away from her abusive father and abused stepmother. Being brainy, she has finished high school early and been accepted into the University of Florida. However, when she gets to university, they refuse to enrol her as she technically hasn’t graduated from high school yet, not having received her diploma.
Left with nowhere to go, no money and a broken down car, Annelise decides to accept the offer of a ride from the hot young guy she felt an instant attraction for at the registrar’s office – Ronan. And when he offers her the chance to get away from Florida, to start a new life at a school for gifted girls, she decides to accept, despite her reservations.
She soon finds out that both the school and Ronan are more than what she imagined.
Ronan is a Tracker, a male who serves the vampires by finding and bringing in beautiful, gifted girls to be trained to become Watchers. The Watchers, who are exclusively female, act as agents of the vampires in the world abroad.
The school where these girls are trained – and slowly eliminated until only the best five remain – is located on an isolated island called Eyja Næturinnar, or the Isle of Night.
The story, as can be expected, revolves around Annelise and her attempts to survive in the school, including her feud with popular girl Lilac, and her relationship with Ronan.
The reason why I felt my age after reading this book is because I simply can’t stand Annelise, and yet, I can so easily imagine teenaged girls out there (of the Twilight fan ilk) identifying with her.
Author Veronica Wolff tries to portray Annelise as, on the one hand, sick of being stereotyped as a blond but, on the other, perpetually being held in contempt because of her brains, or as she herself says, for being a “nerdbot”.
And despite being surrounded by beautiful Acari (first-year Watcher recruits) in the school, she still persists in the delusion that she was chosen only because of her intelligence.
I’m sure Wolff is trying to go for the “she thinks she’s plain, but she’s actually gorgeous” low self-esteem angle, but honestly, Annelise’s self-denial just makes her look stupid and is totally at odds with the “brainy” characteristic Wolff is emphasising.
It is also kind of strange how almost every other girl, except Annelise and a couple of requisite supporting characters, are automatically bitchy.
And while we are supposed to empathise with her, especially in her feud with nemesis Lilac, the way Annelise comes off sometimes shows her own vindictiveness. Although I am sure Wolff means it as toughness, or as a cover for Annelise’s own vulnerability.
While conflict does a good story make, the characterisations here are unrealistic, and worse, not all sympathetic.
The ending begs for a sequel, which apparently is coming out next March, called Vampire’s Kiss.
I would recommend this to those who think Twilight’s Bella and Edward are the romance of the millennium.