Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Meena Harper is lucky to be able to write for Insatiable, her favorite TV show. But when her bosses are sucked into the nationwide craze over vampires and make her write them into the plot of the show, Meena is disgusted. She doesn't get why people would pretend to believe something so obviously made up. Meena does have some experience with the supernatural - she can tell how someone is going to die just by looking at them. But vampires? That's just ridiculous. But then Meena meets Lucien Antonescu, her neighbor's cousin, a prince - and a vampire. Not only a vampire, but a vampire being hunted by a special task force established solely to find and destroy vampires. When Meena unwittingly and unwillingly becomes involved in the vampire war and the vampire hunting, she finds herself in the same position of "vampire-crazed girls" she has always scorned.
Insatiable is a bestseller - and with good reason! Some authors take advantage of fads in book topics, but Meg Cabot goes a step farther and pokes fun at the fad while writing a book that feeds into the public's craving for the topic. The tongue-in-cheek references to the craze are hysterical - especially the reference to "those books by that author"! I'm assuming the actual title and author couldn't be used for legal reasons, but I think leaving it out suits perfectly for the tone of the whole book. Meena dismisses the vampire fad as juvenile and insipid, and I think Meg Cabot herself is commenting on the craze and saying it's a bit ridiculous, but Meena has to deal with vampires and in fact catches herself acting like the girls she ridiculed.
Separate from the whole sarcastic bit, the story itself is also great. One of the best things about it was that fifteen pages from the end, I looked up from the books and commented "I'm almost finished the book, and I have no idea how it ends." It's great when the ending is not obvious, when the character is left with a decision big enough to leave the conclusion in doubt until the last few pages. There are so many characters in the book that each one introduces complications that have to be resolved and keep going till the end.
That's another thing - the characters. There are so many, and they are all so unique! Not all of them are totally developed - some are sort of stock characters - but the main few have distinct personalities and it's the characters themselves who propel the story forward at every turn. I loved how Meena's brother affects the "battle scene" so much, and it's all because of traits that are explored earlier in the book and portrayed in various situations. Meena's friend, her neighbors, her bosses, the vampire hunters, the warring vampires... they're all individual and their personalities are essential to what happens in the plot.
Most of all, I love Meena. In most ways, she's just like any woman, struggling with a job she loves, bosses she hates, demands from work and family, and finding love. But because of her "gift," she's not just a simple woman. She has strength, which she had to develop because she sees people's death, and she is caring and compassionate, which leads her to warn people even when they think she's utterly nuts. It's her compassion and willingness to help others out of harmful situations that brings the battle to a boil. But mostly I love her sarcastic, cynical tone, her pessimistic view while being funny. It's a great combination and made me feel like I'd love to know Meena in real life!
A book that plays into the current trend but in a new way, intriguing plot questions, captivating characters - if I rated books, I'd give this one six stars out of five!