Before you draw out your fangs and try to bite me for suggesting a vampire book, hear me out. I love Edward Cullen as much as the next Twi-hard, but it’s time to move on. The Twilight saga books are over, and Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block is just the right book to move onto.
Normally in vampire books the girl wants to become a vampire to join her undead lover, but in this book it’s the opposite, which drew me in. I couldn’t believe a vampire could possibly “un-vampire” herself.
Charlotte Emerson is pretty perfect and is envied by the undead and mortals alike … despite being dead for more than a hundred years. But after the suicide of Charlotte’s only friend, Emily, Charlotte starts to question if living forever was the right choice. She feels that Emily at least had a way out, while she can’t die.
This is where the book gets a bit confusing. Charlotte talks to the reader as if it was her diary. In doing so she takes the reader back through her life starting in the early 1900s, going through World War I, Woodstock and to the present day. One minute she’s in the present, then she’s remembering her life as a human some hundred years back and then she has visions of the future. It gave me whiplash.
Some time after Emily’s death, Charlotte finds out that the man who turned her into a vampire, William, has come back to find her (because she had broken up with him two decades earlier). Charlotte wants to leave so she won’t be found, but she falls in love with a human boy. That boy just happens to be Emily’s former boyfriend, Jared. Can somebody say scandal!?
Since Charlotte is now attached to Jared, she decides not to leave and to confront William. During this weird love between Charlotte and Jared, she begins experiencing sudden changes in her body. Vampire bodies never change. Her fingernail tears and her cheeks get rosy, all human features. Is her old, powerful vampire lover William causing all of this? Or is it from loving a human? During her changes Charlotte wonders if becoming human would be good for her and Jared, since she wants to grow old with him.
I like Block because her writing style is vivid and descriptive. Like when Charlotte describes her eyes: “The Pacific is not unlike my eyes—sometimes sprawling blue and sometimes gray and sometimes dark.” I also like that the undead get a second shot at life. I enjoyed that the book was through the eyes of a perpetual teenager. But I didn’t like that it was only 208 pages. I finished it too quickly. But I’d definitely recommend it as a summer read to escape from those boring assigned books. It’s not as good as Twilight but it’s enough to hold you over as you wait for the next wave from the vampire craze.