Review: Vesper- Jeff Sampson

3.5/5 Stars

Vesper (Deviants, #1)- Jeff Sampson

vesp

I couldn’t die. I just couldn’t. It was only then, sitting in the shower, the little textured fish cutouts rough against my skin, that I realized I wasn’t anonymous anymore. Not just for getting crazy at a party, or for dancing wildly at a club. Someone out there, someone I didn’t know, wanted me dead. He didn’t care that I wanted to grow up, figure out who I was meant to be.

I am really unsure how to feel about this book, part of me loves it and part of me just doesn’t quite know what to make of it. Perhaps, because the voice of the protagonist is so strong, her conflicting emotions cause the reader to feel torn as well.

Plot: Emily Webb had one best friend, Megan Reed (Reedy), a girl who desperately tried to fit in with the in crowd and was laughed at. After Megan realized she’d never be part of the populars, she turned to black clothing and anger at the stupidity and unfairness of the world. Emily never really fit in anywhere and merely shadowed Megan, nodding at her bitter, cynical commentary. One night, Emily wakes as if from a daze to find herself dressed like a prostitute (trashy makeup and skimpy clothes) halfway out her bedroom window going who knows where. She is interrupted by the annoying, nonstop ringing of her cellphone. Emily finally answers and Megan tells her that their classmate, Emily Cooke was found shot that night only a couple blocks from Emily’s own house. Suddenly, Emily W. doesn’t feel like hopping out her window anymore. After this incident, every night after 8 p.m., Emily gets gut wrenching pain in her stomach and is taken over by another half of her personality (Nighttime Emily). Nighttime Emily is fearless, flirty, can jump out of cars, has excellent vision, speed, super smell, and is far more daring and courageous than Daytime Emily would ever be. Emily is both scared and excited about who she is as Nighttime Emily and wishes that some of her other persona would rub off on the timid daytime girl. Nighttime Emily has a knack for getting into trouble, she crashes a party, gets wasted, causes a bunch of drama and relishes in the chaos up until she gets a whiff of someone lusty and delicious. This is the first time that something other than Nighttime Emily enters Emily’s thoughts, this is a programmed series of instructions telling her to find the smell, to find others like her. Meanwhile, another student is shot and Emily feels like her life is in danger. Scouring the internet, Emily tries to find a connection between the shootings and herself and stumbles upon a Biotech lab. The lab is connected with agriculture but both victim’s parents worked there. As the changes progress, Emily transitions from Nighttime Emily to Werewolf Emily, she sees shadow people, and is attacked. Emily must fight for her life, find her pack, discover who she is, what she has the potential to become, and who mutated her genes to somehow enable the ability to become a werewolf.

PROS:

  • For once, this story is completely focused on the development of the protagonist and not convoluted with a love triangle or some other sort of high school drama. While the story is set in high school and Emily does have to deal with some snobby cheerleaders it is certainly not the main issue and doesn’t really seem important in light of other problems. This is really impressively done, it almost feels as though Emily isn’t in high school because her internal dilemmas are so overwhelming and her stream of consciousness is so authentic and raw. 
  • Emily is empowering. As a young, sixteen year old girl, her insecurities and the struggle to embrace the other half of herself and not be crippled by the confusion and apprehension that so many teen girls in YA fiction seem to wallow in at least for several chapters. Emily feels exhilarated by her darker, wilder, confident nature and recognizes that this is the woman she wants to be but never had the courage to try. At the same time, it took her turning into a werewolf and being forced into the change to embrace this newfound sense of self.
  • Accurately describes how we often come to conclusions about people based on preconceived notions and stereotypes. Emily slowly comes to terms with this and reevaluate how she sees the world. Emily learns to delve beneath the surface and sift through the layers of personality. Through this she finds that she is not an outsider, that she may have things in common with the least likely people.

CONS:

  • Megan’s complete lack of humanity and cold personality make her completely unlikable.
  • The way that body image is portrayed. It seems that if you show a little cleavage it’s slut city and in order to hide from puberty and the unsightly changes of ones body, baggy hoodies are the answer. Emily’s body image issues while they may indeed be the sort of things a high school girl goes through in accepting her new body and comparing it to other girls, this black and white view was unsettling.
  • A description of what exactly vespers are, how they are classified, and the distinctions between psychs, werewolves and other deviants would have been conducive to grasping exactly what Emily has become.

-BB