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Two Janes, Two Very Different Stories

This weekend was a hot pink weekend.  I have always felt that some days are best described by colors, and this weekend was totally hot pink.  It was exciting and dangerous and slightly edgy, which are all qualities that Hot Pink embodies.  It just so happened that during this Hot Pink weekend, I read two books, which coincidentally had Hot Pink covers, and main characters named Jane.  And while one was a vampire and one lived on Coney Island, they did have one thing in common, they are both freaks.

Jane Jones has not always been called Jane Jones.  She originally was Josephine.  But when you family are a bunch of vampires, moving around from town to town is part of the package.  Now Jane can walk out in the sun, see her reflection, eat garlic and she most certainly does not sparkle.  She would be a pretty typical vampire too, if it were not for the itty-bitty problem of her blood intolerance.  So Jane is a vampire who cannot suck blood.  A freak among undead freaks.  Thanks to the Internet, Jane stumbles upon a man who claims he has a cure for vampirism.  Jane wants that cure more than anything, and so does Timothy, a handsome vampire who has spent most of his undead life wandering alone.  He wants to get the cure for Jane and himself so they can live their lives together.  Except Jane is now faced with a teacher who knows more about her past than she’s comfortable with, some startling familial revelations, and a human boy named Eli who has taken a liking to her.  With all of this excitement, what is a vampire girl to do?

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge is one remarkable vampire book.  And this is coming from a lady who feels that vampire books are played out at the moment.  Caissie has developed a great character in Jane, managing to convey life if you had to live as if you were 16 for the rest of your life.  Her popular vampires are a little 2-D and not has fleshed out, and the reason for hating Jane seems ill-explained, but it works to make a convincing problem for Jane to have to deal with.  Reading about two vampire girls fighting it out over a human boy was also quite hilarious and refreshing.  The romance in this book is low-key and natural, no one true loves, no eternities with your soul mate, just a straightforward high school crush, which was realistically portrayed and a joy to read.  Jane was a heroine I could see myself reading more about, not just for her, but for her family as well.  More books about them navigating the complexities of modern day vampires would be a welcome addition to the world of badly written vampire drivel.

Our next Jane has the same problem our first Jane has, the constant moving from place to place.  She has been all over the world with her family, following the career of her father, a roller coaster designer.  He has not been much of a roller coaster designer since her mother died, but he has kept the family travelling as a structural engineer.  Now that her Grandfather has died, they are headed back to the states for a year to settle things at his house on Coney Island.  Jane had never met her grandfather, nor does she really know anything about her mother’s side of the family.  Imagine her surprise when she finds out that her grandparents were sideshow freaks in the early days of Coney Island, her mother was really trying to be a mermaid, and most of her childhood games were based upon old rides on Coney Island.  Jane is trying to figure out the mystery of her maternal family, the mystery of the Dreamland Social Club at school, the mystery of Leo’s strikingly familiar tattoo, and the mystery of who she really is.  That is a lot of mystery for one girl, but Jane is ready to figure out if Coney Island is a place where she belongs, and why her mother kept running away from it.

I will confess, I lived in New York City for a while.  My sister lived near Coney Island, and I would go out to see her.  Dreamland social club by Tara Altebrando paints the picture of Coney Island so vividly I got homesick.  Every character she introduces you too has the right amount of backstory for their importance to the plot.  Everyone is fleshed out and has a place, you feel like you are there in that high school, no matter how odd it may seem.  The mysteries and law-breaking that happens are written beautifully and believably, so I never at any point went, “there is no way two kids could do that.”  The relationships between Jane and other characters are stunningly done.  Jane and Marcus have some of the best brother sister interaction that I have ever read, and the buildup between Jane and Leo is nicely done.  I hope Tara Altebrando keeps writing more, because this book impressed me more than anything I have read in a long time.