This was a great read til the last five minutes. Basically, what’s going on is that our narrator, Ariella, is realizing that her dad’s a vampire. Also, she’s realizing that SHE might be a vampire as well. Little things like her (human) mother’s disappearance, the fact that her dad won’t let her leave the house, and that he doesn’t appear to age all point to vampirism running in the family. Amidst her own burgeoning sexuality and the mysteries surrounding a friend’s death, Ari runs away to find out what happened to her mother and what exactly’s going on with her dad.
Ari is a fun narrator. She’s supposed to be a gift and talented 13 year old — the narration is bit mature for that, especially given how sheltered she’s supposed to be, but the voice itself is consistant, quirky, and wry. Her dad’s characterization strikes the perfect balance between gothier-than-thou prince of darkness (think a toned down Jean Claude from Anita Blake) and a slightly over-protective father. Rafael has some of the better moments of dialogue. Anyways, the plot itself follows Ari’s journeys to young womanhood, what with the boyfriend etc., and her discovery of her father’s true nature.
Here’s the problem. The big reveal hinges on homophobia. Daddy dearest was bit by his former BFF, Malcolm, who is coded as being gay from that point on. He made pops engage in perverted acts of cannibalism by forcing Rafael to suck blood from his wrist (gasp!), has a massive hate-on for women, and a mad cackle of a laugh. Moreover, he’s intimately involved in the mysteries surrounding Ari’s mother’s disappearance, because you know those gays all want to keep the straight family down. SIGH. He’s also contagious; part of what makes Malcolm a dangerous threat to heterosexuality is that his particular brand of insanity can be spread. He drives Ari to murder (though apparrently it’s okay because the man she killed is a serial rapist. Untangle THAT, critical readers!) and both her parents are afraid she’s going to turn out to be a killer, just like Malcolm. He’s the big bad, but for no other reason than that he’s been in love with Ari’s dad for like EVER… even though Rafael is totally not into that. There WAS a momentarily interesting moment where I thought Rafael had been brought over to invent things related to blood storage, but seriously, you don’t have to turn your researchers into the living undead, kidnap their wives, destroy their marriages, and harass their children in order to make them do experiments. Generally you just pay them. There was some vague talk about mysterious vampire factions being involved too, but really Malcolm was thwarted, gay, and a little crazy. Bleh.