Author: Amanda Marrone
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2010.
Pages: 240 p
Source: the author
When I was at the Albany Children's Book Festival, I was lucky enough to meet some amazing YA authors. One of those authors, Amanda Marrone, gave me a free signed book. Just because.
Daphne Van Helsing just wants to be a normal teen girl worrying about school, boys and going to the Prom. But Daphne is far from normal. She's a teen Slayer, charged with dusting vampires and keeping the world safe. She comes from a long line of slayers (Van Helsing!) including her overbearing parents who have kept her on the road since she was born and inducted her into the business at the tender age of 12. Daphne is so childhood-deprived that she keeps a binder full of things she never got to experience. A crude drawing of a house, pictures of "best friends" she invented, magazine cutouts of prom dresses and potential dates. Of the best friends she drew only one was a real person, Maybelle Crusher, former child star of the kids TV show The Disco Unicorns until her parents replaced her with a more attractive, less chubby 5 year old. The last thing Daphne expects when she and her parents arrive at their latest job is to find Maybelle, now known as Kiki, in a local bar. When Kiki's bodyguard is bitten by a vampire and Daphne saves him she is completely unprepared for Kiki's response: she wants to join the business and slay vamps too.
There have been lots of vampire books but this book is refreshingly different in that it focuses on the slayers, not on the vampires. The vampires and demons are peripheral and BAD. Daphne very clearly explains to Kiki that what she's seen on TV and read in books is false. Vampires are not romantic creatures that are just misunderstood and would make great boyfriends. Vampires are bad and need to be slayed. While Marrone doesn't specifically name other books or TV shows, it's clear what Daphne is talking about... there is a subtle reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Kiki asks Daphne if she has any special powers and has been Chosen to slay vamps. She hasn't been chosen, she's been forced by her parents, and she has no special powers besides being aware of their existence.
Vampires and slaying are just the backdrop to the real story about a young girl whose childhood was stolen from her by her oblivious parents and her desperate longing for a normal life. In many ways her story mirrors Kiki's, which is not supernatural at all. Kiki's parents replaced her on a national TV show because she was too chubby without once thinking about how that would make her feel. They don't see HER, much like Daphne's parents are blind to their own daughter.
Slayed is well-written and fun to read. Daphne and Kiki have a good chemistry together. The vampire-slaying story will satisfy paranormal fans. There's a bit of romance between Daphne and the son of her parents' slayer competition that will appeal to girls expecting a brooding misunderstood boy--who is human and not vampire. The ending is wrapped up neatly and nicely, but that's okay because we want Daphne and Kiki to find their happy endings.
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