Bit­ing teen tale

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - Re­view by TAN SHIOW CHIN

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.

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