Night Road
by Jenkins, A. M.

Cole, an extraordinarily conscientious vampire, battles his own memories and fears as he and Sandor, a more impulsive acquaintance, spend a few months on the road, trying to train a young man who recently joined their ranks.

The author of Printz Honor winner Repossessed (2007), about a demon's jaunt to high school, returns to the dark fantasy genre with this intriguing novel set among "hemovores" (blood-drinkers who eschew the term vampire). Though this offers plenty of visceral writing about the thrill of taking "feeds," Jenkins' primary focus is on the relationships among three male hemavores on a road trip rather than on the sensual romance typical of YA vampire fiction. Intended as an opportunity for old-timers Cole and Sandor to mentor Gordon, a deeply traumatized new "heme," the journey serves as a metaphor for quintessential themes of male coming-of-age, especially the struggle to tame primal urges. However, the characters' emotional breakthroughs occasionally feel forced, and although all three are outwardly young adults, the greatest emphasis falls on neurotic, world-weary Cole rather than on Gordon, the character to whom teen readers may feel the strongest connection. Still, Jenkins achieves a thematic depth unusual in YA vampire fiction, and her focus on guy cameraderie may draw boys to a genre more typically read by girls. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

The "v" word that saturates YA literature these days is anathema to the sun-challenged "hemovores" in Printz Honor-winning author Jenkins' undead road-trip novel. Bloodsuckers Cole and Sandor take to the highway in order to indoctrinate fresh convert Gordon in the ways of the "hemes." The journey becomes a metaphorical one for Cole, a centuries-old teenager who still struggles to overcome his own aversion to the hemovore life, even as he instructs his young charge. The already-leisurely narrative often stalls to allow space for Cole's long philosophical musings about the nature of immortality and memory, and even though Jenkins builds suspense with the addition of an unstable "stray" (a rogue hemovore without a colony), the tone remains more Anne Rice than Stephen King. Still, it's an intriguing take on the currently popular subject, and sidekick Sandor's comic commentary lends levity: One fellow "tasted funny" because "[h]e'd had Italian for dinner. . . . You can always tell, because of the garlic." A slow but ultimately satisfying tour through vampire country. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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