Well, this book disappointed me. Even if I hadn't entertained high hopes based on the author's great work in the field of YA librarianship and the wonderful articles he writes, this book would STILL have disappointed me.
Positive: The different slant on vampires gave me my high hopes. Instead of drinking blood, these vampires live by soaking up human emotion via tears. The heroine is a tear vampire who attends a human high school, the perfect breeding ground for tear-producing drama. She falls in love with a human boy and begins to question her family's way of life, eventually leading to rebellion. It takes place in an ordinary high school full of ordinary cliques (Goths, cheerleaders, jocks) and ordinary high school goings-on (make outs, breakups, sex, cat fights, family drama, etc.)
Sounds great, right?
Negative (with spoilers, sorry, I HAVE to): This book may take place in a realistic high school environment, but I felt like it was TOO well-drawn. It read like a field guide for grown ups: this is what Goths think, this is how jocks act. The setting remains superficial throughout the book.
The heroine didn't get much of my sympathy. She doesn't just thrive on the high school drama, she gets at-risk people to trust her and then creates drama so they will cry on her shoulder, literally. Until she meets a boy and falls in love, she never questions the morality of her actions. Speaking of morality, she's also very blase about sexual favors and uses them to get what she wants.
Character development is at a low here. The heroine is fairly well-done, and her boyfriend sort of has a personality. Everyone else is a cookie cutter, from the has-to-be-perfect cheerleader to the witch-with-a-B cheerleader, from the dumb jock to the traumatized Goth. Even the villain of the piece, the heroine's cousin (with whom she is supposed to "mate" and reproduce at the age of 16), is just evil, the end.
My big gripe with this book was the ending. The heroine wants to stop being a vampire, but finds out the only way she can is by taking a human life. She briefly contemplates killing her best friend's 8-year-old sister, who is dying of cancer. She decides she simply can't, because the child is too innocent and the heroine loves her too much.
At this point, I thought, "Wow, she is stuck. She just has to stay a vampire."
Oh, no. The book ends with her calling the cheerleader-with-a-B and asking if they can meet! Then I realized that character was set up to be the nastiest in the book: she starts rumors to break up the heroine's best friend and her boyfriend. When the best friend kills herself over it, she cries fake tears even as she hooks up with the boyfriend. She's so mean. She's so fake. Blah blah.
So it's okay to KILL her? I lost what little compassion for the heroine I still had at that point. Yes, the cheerleader was a fake mean girl. But only in cardboard cut-out land do fake mean girls with no feelings really exist. In real life, even mean girls have lives and feelings, loves and hopes and dreams and redeeming qualities. The author tries to make it seem like poetic justice. The heroine even accuses the girl of killing her best friend at one point, because she caused the breakup that sent the girl over the edge.
I know there are probably some high schoolers out there who are teased and tormented by pretty, popular girls every day. Been there, done that. Maybe for some of those kids, the ending will be cathartic and meaningful. But to me, it just meant the heroine was sinking lower than the villain. At least he didn't murder anyone!
I gave this book two stars because the premise was original, it obviously took considerable effort, and because some teens might like it. Other than that, I'd say "Complete BOMB. Walk on by."