Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, vol. 1

By Ellen Schreiber and Art by REM
Released by TokyoPop and HarperTeen

Slugline: I never trust stories in which the girl gets what she wants for her boyfriend.

In another manga extension of a published line of teen books, Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives continues the story of Raven and her vampire boyfriend Alexander. It is always awkward your S.O.'s cousin is around, you have to spend time with them, keep them amused yet still manage to sneak in the smoochies with your S.O. without getting busted. While Raven and Alexander may not have to worry about his parents, his cousin is a killer. Well, a killer wannabe at least, in that he is not a vampire like Alexander and desperately wants to be one. The only way to became one is for Claude to find vials of ancient vampire blood hidden on his and Alexander's grandmother's estate where Alexander currently lives, and so he decides to hold blackmail Raven by threatening her friend Becky to betray Alexander and learn the location of the vials.

I am not sure why but the pacing feels off. Maybe it is just my expectation that the author is not quite used to the comic/manga format or maybe it is because these books are just 128 pages (and this including lots of bonus material and a chapter from an upcoming prose novel so there is that much fewer story pages) so that it just feels short. It feels too much like just one chapter, not even a complete story segment that the TokyoPop original manga tend to provide. Raven fits the stereotype of a goth girl who has gotten what she has always wanted to a T, so I am not sure where the character tension is. Sure, there is the external tension from Claude, but is there any tension in her relationship with Alexander? He is almost an Mary Sue, a blank slate of perfection for Raven to project her desire and wants onto. But I do not have a large enough chunk of story, or a familiarity with the series overall to say whether that is the fault of this book or the series as a whole. What I see in front of me is competently done, and Raven projection of perfection onto Alexander does to a certain extent remind me of teenage romances in the giddy first rush stage when everything is perfect before the break-up and everything goes tragically wrong stage. This book ekes out a 2.5 rating from me, but I can easily see it going down if the following volumes do not deliver more than what I saw here.

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


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