Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blue Bloods, by Melissa De La Cruz

Few young adult novels bring together as many of the themes percolating through the current age as Blue Bloods, by Melissa De La Cruz. Fragmentation, isolation, affluence, sexuality, exceptionality, fear--this book has it all.

This is appropriate given that the main characters in Blue Bloods also seem to have it all. A 2007 Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Blue Bloods explores the emergence into adulthood of a unique clique of well-heeled descendants of the original Mayflower pilgrims. If you ever wondered what it is like (or what you hope it would be like) to be wealthy, young, and living on the upper east side of New York City, this is the book for you.

Although the book celebrates money and the advantages--even excesses--that wealth and social status bring, it also explores the downside of such things, as the above cover suggests.  The social criticism comes in the form of a very creative integration of the vampire legend into the fabric of the story.  Through this integration, affluence and exceptionality are highlighted, but also critiqued.  There is something clearly repulsive about sucking blood and acting without regard for others, and it is this repulsion that adds complexity and depth to the novel and the depiction of a highly stratified social world.
Blue Bloods is the first book in a new series, and it does a very nice job of setting up the context for the story (one of the more amusing parts is the description of the changes that adolescents undergo as their vampire-ness begins to express itself).  The writing is sharp and witty, although I personally found some of the background information about the history of vampires in America just a tad plodding.  But the suspense that De La Cruz creates through the introduction of a rogue vampire is very well-done, and made we want to read the sequel.

In short, Blue Bloods is fun reading that touches on many themes and anxieties current in our world today: isolation, unfettered affluence, increased sexuality, fears about the future, and concerns that changes in the world that need to happen are not going to occur.  It also captures the sense of terror that many people feel, the nagging fear that our worse nightmares lie just around the corner.

For more on vampires, check out the video below from National Geographic, or visit Elizabeth Miller's very helpful website.  

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