Crusade, Book 1
Author: Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié
Genre: young adult, fantasy
ARC Obtained From: Simon & Schuster booth at ALA 2010
In some future time, vampires have taken over the world. Much like in the Sookie Stackhouse books, vampires decided to come out of hiding and make overtures of friendship with humanity. That kindness is a facade, allowing them to gain control over the governments of the world without much of a struggle. The only remaining resistance comes from people like Jenn, vampire hunters, although there are less of them all the time. Few academies are still going, shut down to appease the new vampire overlords. Spain, where Jenn's hunter group lives and patrols, is one of the last countries to resist the vampires. Jenn is American, having run away to study at the Academia to escape her controlling, vampire-believing father. Her boyfriend, Antonio, is a vampire (zomg, shock!), but don't worry, because he is the only good vampire in the whole world (of course). Of course, Jenn and Antonio do not have a perfect relationship: he is unwilling to give it up (he wanted to be a priest before he was turned and is determined to stick to his vow of chastity). There are four more in the vampire hunting group: Eriko, made super strong via potion, Skye, witch, Jamie, bad-ass, and Holgar, werewolf. Jenn has to leave Spain to go visit during a family crisis in California. When her sister gets taken by evil vampires (the only kind, except for dreamy Antonio), Jenn enlists her group for a sister-saving mission to New Orleans.
I chose Livin' La Vida Loca, a cheesy song from the 90s, because the book has a similar 90s-tastic feeling. It may not be as upbeat, but it is predictable and very much following along with the popular themes of the day, without trying to do anything particularly original. This was also the perfect song because of the authors' constant and annoying pretension to being extremely knowledgeable in every foreign language. Very few pages do not include at least one foreign word as an ejaculation from one of the characters. The main character is pretty much the only one who does not drop words of another language at every opportunity.
As with the languages, the diversity of the characters, who are a veritable grab bag of nationalities, should have been fun. But it wasn't. It was just the device whereby the authors could pretend to be exceedingly clever, while writing sentences of low complexity and constructing an even lesser plot.
The whole thing is overdramatic and obnoxious: the diction, the characters and the emotions felt. Poor Jenn whines through the whole book (except the last page) about her lack of awesome; everyone else in her group has amazing slaying skills, but she is a big ol' klutz (the whole Bella Swan ploy to catch yourself a sexy, schmexy vampire). This kind of heroine is so obnoxious; girls should read books by Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins and Tamora Pierce to see what real heroines are. The (forbidden!) love of Antonio and Jenn is the other main theme of the book and even that is not done well. It's not particularly sexy or gushy or sappy or intense. The characters have no chemistry. Neither seems particularly to like the other one, despite their constant inner monologue soliloquies to that effect.
I do not recommend Crusade. I am sure it will have dedicated readers, as these authors wrote a popular series on witches. That's fine, but I, for one, am done. For those who want (for some unknown reason) to read this book, Crusade goes on sale September 7.