Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
PROS:sparkly unicorns, vampire families, black comedy, killer prom
CONS:thin on plot
Unicorns are pesky little creatures. Whether you’re Team Unicorn or not, you must admit unicorns are dangerous, rainbow-farting menaces. In Drink, Slay, Love, these walking horns are certainly dangerous, but to vampires, for a change. Pearl lives with her vampire Family, and that word sheds it warm and fuzzy connotations and grows vicious teeth in [...]
Pearl lives with her vampire Family, and that word sheds it warm and fuzzy connotations and grows vicious teeth in this book. As does the word “Mother” (and “Daddy,” to a slightly lesser extent). Most nights, Pearl is content to goof off with her boyfriend Jadrien and treat herself to a late night ice cream (boy) afterward.
But that all changes when Pearl is skewered by a unicorn, then left on her Family’s front porch. That’s bad enough–her parents are mad at her for letting herself get nabbed by a vampire slayer (they don’t buy the sparkly unicorn story)–but there are….other problems with getting impaled by a unicorn…..some that begin to really cramp Pearl’s lifestyle, and some that enhance it. It’s not until she is attacked and kidnapped by two amateur bumbling vampire hunter wannabes and left out to burn in the sun that Pearl realizes one of the enhancements–she’s newly UV proof.
When she tells her family the good news, they decide to use her Daywalker abilities to scout potential meals for the Family’s late night snack attacks and for the upcoming Fealty Ceremony. The King of New England is coming to town, and he wants the blood flowing. So Pearl enrolls in high school with the intent of choosing entrees for the King’s royal buffet.
This would all be well and good, if it weren’t for the fact that Pearl has developed something of a conscience along with her ability to walk in the sun. Suddenly these students she walks among are no longer mobile blood banks–they’re people with personalities. And drinking from them diminishes those personalities, so she finds it harder and harder to sink her teeth in.
Top 5 Reasons This Book Was Sparklier and Shinier than a Unicorn’s Horn
1. The vamps are either terrifying or hilarious (my two favorite kinds of vamps)
Pearl has a sharp, sarcastic tongue, and she’s tough, but also ultimately a little vulnerable. She is a total evil beyotch in the beginning, which works out really well for her when she runs up against classic high school mean girls and fear-inspiring jerk teachers. Gradually she evolves into a semi-beyotch, still plotting evil vampire shenanigans, but feeling kinda guilty about it. By the time the Fealty Ceremony rolls around, Pearl has a fully-developed conscience, and she even begins to regret, and make the reader regret, some of her worst deeds, including her vicious payback on the worst of the mean girls all those weeks ago (notably, this isn’t a straight-forward obvious regret, like other bigger mistakes, so Pearl is experiencing a complex gray-area examination of her actions).
The vampires in Pearl’s Family are a mixed assortment of crazy, casually violent, and vicious vampires. In particular, I love Cousin Antoinette, who takes all her cues about human high school life from John Hughes movies. She kindly agrees to help Pearl adjust to high school norms, using her vast repository of John Hughes fashion cues to dress her, while blithely announcing that she’s pretty much using Pearl’s absence to try and steal her boyfriend. Mother and Father are coldly calculating, and give off the, “yeah, we’d eat our young like lions if it suited us” vibe.
I went back and forth between wanting Pearl to punch her vain vampire pretty boy boyfriend, Jadrien, and wanting her to back him up against a wall and make out with him. I settled in the end on firmly wanting to punch/stake him, but who knows? I could change my mind again….
Finally, the King makes quite an impression in his limited page-time. He is built up by the vampires to be a terrifying, unforgiving despot, and when he finally arrives at the Fealty Ceremony, let’s just say he doesn’t disappoint.
2. The Other Family
Unicorns kick serious vampire butt, and they have kind of a Cullen-esque family of “sisters” and “brothers” going, which is cool for many reasons. They’ve banded together to live amongst humans and patrol to save unsuspecting victims from vampiric clutches. Unlike Pearl’s Family, they don’t live in an uneasy mafia-style state of fear; they choose to be together and to be cooperative and caring. When the time comes, the family is all too happy to risk their lives and join in a big Fealty Ceremony coup–not to kill vamps, but to give them the sparkly unicorn vaccination against evil.
3. The Prom From Hell
The story is full of Buffy-esque camp, with a smart-ass high school self-awareness that calls to mind Easy A and Mean Girls, so it is only fitting that it culminate in The Big Prom From Hell. Pearl has promised her Family the lives of all the prom-goers for the King’s ceremony, but behind their backs, she conspires with her human friends and the unicorn family to trick the King into drinking her unicorn-tainted blood, and spreading it around when everyone drinks his blood as is the Fealty custom.
Yeah, they’re just going to pack this mansion full of teenagers, let them dance and have a grand time mere feet away from the most dangerous vampire in New England, and his many loyal and fearful minions, all of whom are just waiting for the right moment to suck the entire prom dry. But, it’s cool cause they’ve got holy water, trenches, and a unicorn squad. What can go wrong? The prom is a rollicking and macabre Carrie-style ride, and the Fealty Ceremony that goes on in the same building is bone-chilling. It’s definitely “A Night to Remember.”
4. Pearl’s newfound friends make a wonderful case for a vegetarian vamp lifestyle
Evan and Bethany become her best friends, and they are so patient with Pearl, even putting themselves in danger, to show her another way of life. She wants to drink from them, badly at times, but she can’t bring herself to do it because she cares about them too much. The other students, who initially inspire cold ambivalence in Pearl, begin to infiltrate her affections as well. In particular, Zeke and Matt, the Jay and Silent Bob-esque bumbling wannabe vampire hunters (who originally tried to cook her in an early morning barbecue), and Tara, a mean girl who warms up to Pearl (and eventually even socially awkward Bethany), and Sana, Pearl’s cross country teammate (yeah, apparently Pearl has developed extra-curricular sports activities in addition to a conscience).
All of them agree to risk their lives to help Pearl with her plot against her Family and the King, showing her the meaning of friendship, and giving her an alternative life outside her Family.
5. La la love–forbidden love at that.