27 October 2009

Night Road by A. M. Jenkins

About this book, YA author Robert Lipsyte says, "Read this as a tense thriller about vampires on a road trip, or read it as a metaphorical tour de force about a boy becoming a man. But read it!"

Cole has been summoned back to Manhattan to the Building for a meeting with Johnny, where he is given the responsibility of caring for and teaching newbie Gordo how to survive as a hemovore. ("'Hemo, meaning blood. Vorare, meaning to devour.'" Never VAMPIRES.) Since becoming a heme, Gordo has been allowed to live within the safety of the Building, feeding whenever he wants, without the worry of taking too much blood and making a willing participant a victim instead. He doesn't understand self-control, self-sufficiency, or self-discipline. In order to teach Gordo the ways of the world, Cole and Sandor take him out on the road; no destination in mind because, really, it's the being out in the real world that's the thing. Of course, now that he's stripped of security, he's forced to fully grasp the facts of his new life and finds that he's lonely and homesick. His self-hatred and desperation drives him to make a decision: to fast . . . no feeding, at all, ever again. The problem is, hemes HAVE to feed. Eventually he will break and then self-control will be impossible.

The ending of Night Road is a bit rushed and too neatly concluded, some elements don't really add up to much of anything, and the suspense falls short of expectations, but the relationships among the characters are beautiful, and experiencing the lives of the hemes could make us think about our own. I'll admit, as a coming-of-age metaphorical tour de force, I am a big fan of this book. Where the suspense was lackluster, the writing was thrilling.

Recommended to high school readers, especially boys who either won't admit to liking the Twilight series, or those who really didn't like it because of all the romance and drama.
Call number: YA JENKINS (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

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