Jane’s life as a vampire sucks. She isn’t beautiful. She doesn’t sparkle. She isn’t rich. Worst of all? She suffers from an incredibly inconvenient condition: blood intolerance. Read on for my thoughts on Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever., a fun (and funny!) young adult novel from Caissie St. Onge.
First, a confession.
I have what can only be described as a giant mindcrush on Caissie St. Onge, author of Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. With stints as a writer and/or producer for The Late Show with David Letterman, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, VH1’s Best Week Ever, and (currently) Bravo’s Watch What Happens: Live!, St. Onge has essentially made a career out of gifting the world with funny commentary on pop culture. What’s more, she’s one of the funniest Twitterers out there—and bullshit-free and kind and responsive and honest and…oh, she’s just lovely.
Anyway, when I first decided to review St. Onge’s first novel, I was afraid one of two things would happen:
- My love and admiration for her would cloud my judgment, leaving me with nothing to say but “HAHA OMG THIS IS THE BEST. BOOK. EVER. CAISSIE, CALL MEEEEEEEE!”
- I’d end up hating the book and would spew said hatred all over this part of the Internets. And then, of course, Caissie would find out, care, hate me, and decide to never be my friend in real life.1
Luckily I managed to hold it together and the book did well at not sucking,2 so I think I’ll be able to get through this without jeopardizing my journalist integrity3…or my chances to be Caissie’s BFF one day.4
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Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. tells the story of, well, Jane Jones who is—as you’ve probably surmised—not so great at the whole undead thing. She isn’t sparkly or especially strong. Actually, having joined the vampire ranks at the age of 15, Jane exists in a state of perpetual teenage awkwardness. To make matters worse, Jane suffers from a rather unfortunate allergy: blood intolerance.5
Jane “lives” with her family (all vampires turned just before succumbing to starvation during The Dirty Thirties) in Port Lincoln, a typical small town on the coast of Connecticut.
Well, if you could call a town inhabited by a healthy population of vampires “typical.” But you get my meaning.
As you can imagine, being a vampire makes hanging with the regular high school kids a bit of a challenge for Jane. And, despite her best efforts, Jane just can’t find a way to fit in with the other perpetually teenage vampires in Port Lincoln. Unlike her classmates Astrid (your typical mean girl…but with fangs) and Timothy (the novel’s thinly-veiled nod to Edward Cullen6), Jane isn’t rich or beautiful–and her blood allergy just sets her up as a freak among freaks, if you will. All the while, Jane deals with issues that tend to come standard with being a 15-year-old girl. Her parents embarrass her. Boys (human and vampire) are equal parts terrifying and thrilling. She wears glasses and her hair is brown UGH “LIFE” SUCKS.7
Surrendered to an eternity spent slugging through the challenges of adolescence, Jane spends her days trying to go unnoticed–which, turns out, is depressingly easy most of the time. However, in quite the turn of events, Jane finds herself not only in the position to protect her family from a fate worse than undeath,8 but also in a love triangle with Eli, her geekishly cute non-vamp classmate, and the aforementioned Timothy who just might be her “in” on what she’s always wanted most: a cure for vampirism.
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As you can probably tell from the title, Jane Jones is not your typical vampire schtick. There’s little violence, little gore, very little smooching, and enough good, hearty laughs9 that you know this book doesn’t take itself seriously. In fact, the cute, lower-key nature of the book makes it a great pick for middle schoolers looking to sink their teeth into the teen vamp genre10 but aren’t quite ready for the heavy breathing and sexual innuendo of it all. And while there are some pacing issues towards the end (e.g. more pages devoted to preparing for the climax than the actual climax), the majority of the book moves along nicely and even includes some truly clever twists—particularly when we learn about the cause of Jane’s inconvenient allergy.
Jane is funny and relatable as a narrator; her Eeyore-ish tendencies are actually quite endearing most of the time, and St. Onge holds off the angst by giving Jane a legit sense of humor. But the fact that Jane is so relatable—that she is so average—makes it hard to pinpoint Timothy’s sudden (and maybe even Eli’s more long-term) interest in her. Though I wonder if maybe that’s the genius of the whole thing. I mean, the book is told from Jane’s perspective; if she doesn’t get why these guys are suddenly interested in her, why would we? What’s more, Jane thinks about Timothy and Eli, but her every thought isn’t consumed by them because, well, she also has other things going on. I, for one, appreciate such a refreshing alternative to the other leading ladies lurking in the pages of vampire fiction for young adults11 these days.
YES, BELLA, I AM LOOKING AT YOU. JUDGINGLY.
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- Hey, it could happen. ↩
- Zing! (Did you really expect me to not say that at some point in this review?) ↩
- Sure. We’ll call it that. ↩
- HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN. ↩
- Save for a super rare (and super expensive) blood type only available on the black market. Consequently, Jane doesn’t get to feed as often as the rest of the family, leaving her in a perpetually weak state. ↩
- No liquid topaz eyes here, but Timothy is very wealthy, brooding, and gets girls all swoony with his “carelessly floppy honey-colored hair and his dark-yet-luminous-eyes and his perfectly pouty pout.” Totes Edward. ↩
- Zing! 2.0 ↩
- I could do this all day. ↩
- Jane’s inner monologue during her first interaction with Eli actually made me laugh out loud several times; it’s a spot-on portrayal of the delicate dance that is teen-to-teen communication. ↩
- Zing! 3.0: The Best of the Zing!s. ↩
- The fact that this really is a thing now…sigh. I dunno. ↩