My Blood Approves, Fate & Flutter
from an exciting new talent
When a white night in a black Jetta saves two young women being attacked in a parking Garage, who could know that it would completely change their lives forever? Alice, the narrator of the stories, and her friend Jane have been turned away from every club they try to get into. Walking home they are chased by some nasty guys into that most desolate of locations, a parking garage. Jack, a good-looking young man, sees what is happening and rescues them.
When I began reading these books last weekend I didn’t know what to expect. I had downloaded My Blood Approves partly because it was inexpensive. And, then, in a post I put up on Thursday asking for help picking my next read, Amanda responded that she would read My Blood Approves, but that she was the author so probably biased. It looked like a good book to read while I waited for a tally on my poll.
Within a couple of pages I was completely engrossed in My Blood Approves, at the end I immediately downloaded the next book, Fate. In Fate the stories of Jack and Alice, as well as their families continue. And, at the end of Fate I immediately got Flutter. I was so engrossed in these books that when my husband gave me a bowl of organic raspberries he had gotten at the Farmers’ Market I almost ate a beetle hiding in one of them!
Jack, exudes a charm that most people find irresistible. Not Alice. She is attracted to him, but unlike most women she doesn’t turn into a flirt, seductress or throw herself at him. Because of this, Jack finally has a friend who he knows is attracted to him for himself and not his charm. However, early on Alice realizes that he is hiding part of himself from her. As she comes to terms with having this restriction on their relationship, their friendship grows.
Some books with Vampires are about being a vampire: biting, being bitten, blood, sunlight and all the accoutrements of the species. While these three books do have some of the stuff of vampirism, they are really books about relationships in difficult circumstances, about jealousy (petty and large) about attraction, loyalty, love, friendship, family and being true to oneself.
But why, I asked, even as I remarked about how talented Ms. Hocking is, why was I so engrossed in these books? What was making me walk through my weekend carrying my Kindle while I cooked dinner, brushed my teeth and rode in the car?
My ultimate reasons came down to two or three things:
1. Amanda Hocking has an amazing talent for writing true dialogue, both internal and external. The book is from Alice's POV, so all the narrative is a dialogue with the reader. That is hard to maintain in an interesting way; if the narrator isn't at an event all you know is what she hears from others.
would But, every bit of dialogue in this book rings true to life, true to age. TRUE. And the narrator, Alice is honest and engaging. There is no first time novelist awkward phrasing. When it is awkward it is because the character is awkward.
2. Tension: Sexual Tension between a triangle of characters. Tension between Alice and Jack, and some family tensions as well, but not too many story lines diffusing the tension.
3. A great balance between narrative in the form of of description and inner monologue, and activity. Sometimes the activity is driving in a car, other times it is a fight or something else physical.
I would recommend this series for older teens, and adults. And I would give it six stars out of five. Yes, I enjoyed it that much. While I read I kept thinking, "This woman is so talented! This is just the beginning of a brilliant career."
Wisdom, the fourth book in this series is scheduled for release on August 22, 2010. Switched, the first novel in her new series, the Trylle Trilogy, was released on Kindle yesterday.
I don't know Amanda, so this is not some family member or friend gushing on about her books because they are family or friends. I am gushing because these stories are, in my opinion, just that good; and I am not a gusher. Amanda responded to a few questions I asked via email:
Question: Some writers say they dream a story or are inspired to update a classic; did anything in particular inspire you for My Blood Approves?
Amanda: Purple Rain actually inspired me. It has nothing to do with vampires and it's loosely tied into the book, and to be honest, I haven't seen the film in years. But it always made Minneapolis seem kind of magical to me, in a weird way. And the poem that the title comes from - "Feeling is First" by e e cummings really inspired the whole story. The idea behind poem is that if you think about the way you feel and analyze it too much, you'll never be able to really feel it. From that, the idea of the pull between Jack - who felt first, thought second - and Peter - who thinks and broods before he lets himself feel - was born.
Question: I think this would make a great film, who would you like to see as the main characters? I think Anton Yelchin would be a good Milo although he will be too old soon.
IMDB Official PhotoAmanda: I actually hadn't thought of Anton Yelchin, but he'd be pretty perfect for Milo.
Alice - Natalie Dreyfuss
Jack - ahhh! Too hard!
Peter - Emile Hirsch (from "Into the Wild" not "Alpha Dog")
Milo - Ezra Miller (he was on like two episodes of "Law & Order" and "Royal Pains")
Jane - I pictured a young Edie Sedgewick, so I guess maybe Siena Miller because she did a good job playing her in "Factory Girl"
Mae - Kate Winslet
Ezra - Charlie Hunnam but all sexy like from "Abandon" and not all skeevy like in "Sons of Anarchy"
Question: Do you plan out a story in an outline or just start writing?
Amanda: I outline like crazy. I used to just start writing stories, but they were too hard to finish. I forgot where they went, rambled, lost my thought. If I outline, I can just sit down and write a book in a few weeks.
Question: Who are your major influences and inspirations for your work?
Amanda: That's hard. My Blood Approves took some inspiration from e e cummings, but I really enjoy the writing style of Richelle Mead. She's fun and direct and strong. I also tried to let the things I love influence the books - I'm a geek into bad 80's films and sci-fi and fantasy and video games and comic books. So I hope some of that came through.
Question: Are any of your characters based on you or a close friend (maybe not the vampire part)?
Amanda: Mae is definitely based on my gramma (her middle name is May too). My gramma came over from England in 1957, and she's one of the kindest, funniest, most loving people I've ever met. Right now, she's having issues with dementia, and I think, in a way, I wanted to immortalize the kind of woman she was - the she loved her family and put them in front of everything else.
Milo has a bit of my roommate Eric in him, for sure. And I'd say Jack is a cross between Phillip J. Fry from Futurama, Shawn Spencer from Psych, and Mark Hoppus from blink 182. I don't really know any of them, since most of them are fictional, but that's the inspiration for Jack.
Thank you for the questions, and I'm glad you liked the books!! :)
Thank you for taking the time to respond. And, I am glad you wrote them!