Sunday, 9 November 2014

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods (2005) (Atom)
Melissa de la Cruz
Grade: B--
Genre: young adult
Source: own
Blue Bloods: (1) Blue Bloods
Young adult RBC 2014: A book with a colour in the title

Fifteen-year-old Schulyer Van Alen boasts one of the most prestigious and blue-blooded names and family trees in Manhattan society, but unfortunately doesn’t have the fortune to match. Practically an orphan after her father died and her mother lapsed into a coma shortly after she was born, Schulyer has been brought up by her maternal grandmother Cordelia, who has never been a particularly loving presence in her life. A social outcast at school, Schulyer is content with the company of her best friend Oliver Hazard-Perry and new student Dylan.

When a girl in their class is found dead, Schulyer is told of her heritage – she is one of Manhattan’s 400 Blue Bloods: vampires who migrated from England in the 1700s to escape persecution, and who have been instrumental in shaping Manhattan society as it exists today. Schulyer is both disgusted and intrigued to learn the truth, but is compelled to dig deeper on discovering that someone or something is killing Blue Bloods … a haunting prospect given that they can’t be killed … and she’s potentially its next target …

Blue Bloods, like a number of my more recent reads, has been sitting on my shelf for the best part of five years. It’s one of the few books that I’ve selected to read for the sole intention of ticking off another of my RBC 2014 categories. It turns out that I don’t own very many books with colours in the titles and of those, most are ‘blue.’ Though I grew out the vampire craze quickly and long ago (about the time I bought it), Blue Bloods has me intrigued enough to consider reaching for book two.

There are several features about Blue Bloods that sets it apart from your regular vampire novel. Firstly, there’s nothing particularly striking about these vampires that would immediately put humans on alert about a supernatural presence: they don’t sparkle in the sunlight (thanks, Twilight), they don’t have a ‘vampire-face’ (courtesy of Buffy) and cannot be killed with a stake through the heart (most other vampire stories). While they still feed on blood, this typically comes from their ‘human familiars’ – trusted human servants who they regularly feed from. I found the idea that vampires have three ‘cycles’ in their lives: Expression, Evolution, Expulsion, whereby their physical shell expired after 100 years, giving them time to rest before being called up again. It could have been explained better, but it was an interesting concept all the same. While they might not stay in the same body all their life, their memories live on, reminding them of their history.

The covers are breathtakingly beautiful and some of my favourites of all the books I own. The US and UK covers differ slightly, but the UK Publisher still managed to capture more-or-less the same look-and-feel for the series, as below (US above, UK below). Also, the bite marks on the Blue Bloods cover has an imprint-effect when you run your fingers over them, like scars that have been left after a bite - what a phenomenal touch. The skyline on the US covers adds a nice element but I'll live without it. I have something of a love affair with pearls and so while their size on the UK cover for Blue Bloods is just about bordering gauche, it’s still beautiful and classy and I adore the running theme of pearls throughout the covers in the series. For once, I think the UK covers just have the edge - and I'm gutted that this is one of the rare instances that I own the US covers (2 + 3).


I like Blue Bloods because I can honestly say that for a vampire novel, it’s different. The vampire element is original and there’s a mystery/danger that runs through beyond book 1, keeping the reader hooked. However, it’s still a YA novel at heart and with all these privileged kids of Manhattan society, Duchesne school is as bitchy and clique-y as you would expect, without being clichéd. Melissa de la Cruz remains a prolific author to date and it’s not difficult to see why.

Images courtesy of Fantastic Fiction and Little, Brown.

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