|The fight for survival begins.|
An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.
How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?
I used to be quite obsessed with the young adult vampire genre, devouring several paranormal reads per week, but the popularity of the Twilight series spurned my attention. Suddenly, everyone was writing, (and reading), vampire-based novels; most of which were bloodless in comparison to their predecessors. About 60% of the teen vampire books that I attempted to read after 2008 paralleled Twilight - or tried to - Girl meets sexy vampire. Girl wants to be a vampire too. Brooding vampire tells girl to stay away because he's dangerous. Girl ignores vampire, etc... I could only take so much of this "originality" before I was entirely burnt out on the genre. Until recently, I wouldn't even accept vampire fiction review requests, but a couple of interesting blurbs managed to make it into my inbox, and What Kills Me by Wynne Channing was one of them. First-off, I'll admit I was lured in by the cover art - loved the color palate and the ethereal detail. Usually, I try not to be swayed by the cover's literary agenda, (thus, "Don't judge a book by its cover"), however, It spiked my interest enough for perusal.
After the first chapter, I was worried. I loved Wynne Channing's way with words - evocative and well-balanced - but I was not a fan of Axelia (Zee). She seemed like she was going to be another immature, limp-wristed heroine with a penchant for trouble. I was rather annoyed with her, unable to get into her personality, but when push-came-to-shove, she not only transformed from human to vampire, but also from sad-ass to bad-ass! As soon as the action kicked in, I was hooked; the pace just quick enough to propel me from cover to cover in a single night! Zee's will to survive against all odds resonated with me. Sure, she needed protection - cue Lucas - but she was not a weakling by any means; her lite sarcastic streak a notable indication. Speaking of Lucas, I enjoyed his character as well. He was not the typical "handsome hero", he had a realistic and well-crafted back-story, as well as a great set of family/relationship dynamics. I will admit, he too took getting used to, but in reality, how long does it take to really get to know someone? I was surprised how well-developed the characters were for a YA novel, especially since this is the first in a series, (and the first book by this author!). The interactions and dialogue were believable, although Zee tended to talk too much, but the build-up of the action, romance, and overall tension towards the novel's zenith was my favorite part! The entire story-line leading up to the pulse-pounding climax (No Spoilers!) was thought out and executed smoothly. I was glad to see such a refreshingly original take on vampire mythology, only noting the slightest trace of the Twilight-esque. I will definitely be on the lookout for Wynne's next novel, and recommend What Kills Me for teens and adults ready for a new take on the vampire genre!
Rating: On the Run (4/5)
*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
About the Author:
Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.
She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.
Wynne loves telling stories, and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).
She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”