After finishing Kimberly Pauley‘s debut novel Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) (2009) I found myself of two minds as to whether or not I liked it. For that reason, this is sort of an anti-Chick Lit Wednesday review
Pauley–previously known for her own book review site–has created a very interesting premise here: Mina Hamilton is having a hard enough time with high school and being seventeen in general when things get even more complicated. Mina already knew her parents were vampires. She has, in fact, known that for all of her life. What she didn’t know until recently was that she would have to decide if she wanted to join her parents among the undead or not. Mina also has to attend a series of vampire classes to help in her decision-making process. The entire idea is fascinating. Even the chatty, notebook style blurb for the book helps to draw readers in to this funny story. Mina is also, in many ways, a very real character–aside from the whole vampiric parents side of things, of course.
Any yet . . .
She is also possibly one of the most shallow characters I have ever encountered. At the beginning of the novel Mina is so busy lusting after her cute classmate Nathan as to be entirely oblivious to the true object of his affection. Matters only worsen when Mina starts her vampire classes and meets the even better looking Aubrey. At this point in the plot Mina has so many stars in her eyes that she once again misses the completely, painfully obvious fact that Aubrey’s interest in her comes from motivations that are anything but romantic.
Sucks to Be Me features a popular vampire myth (and the vampire reality care of Mina) at the beginning of each chapter. Pauley had the potential here to create an entirely new set of vampire lore here. Instead the writing about the ins and outs of vampirism was remiss. Most of the new vampire facts (they can go out in the sun, they can eat food) are left unexplained either because Mina does not know the answer or because she tuned out while someone else was explaining it. While world building is more traditionally associated with sci-fi novels, it feels negligent to base a novel on so many facts while explaining none of them.
Pauley’s inclusion of instant messages written in chatspeak was equally frustrating. I don’t text message and I write instant messages in full sentences. I know that is not true for most people. But I feel certain that having lines like “& he jetted prtty fast outta there. didn’t evn drnk the coffee” does little to add to the novel’s authenticity or tone.
This book reminded me a lot of ghostgirl, another book with a promising plot whose writing fell short of expectations. It will also likely appeal to Twilight fans looking for a funny vampire story. For my part, I was excited about Sucks to Be Me when I first saw it, but by the end my enthusiasm was lukewarm at best.
Possible Pairings: Ghost Huntress by Marley Gibson, Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (television series)