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Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Vesper (Deviants, Book 1) by Jeff Sampson

Vesper (Deviants, #1)

Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 25, 2011)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?

Book Opening:
"I was halfway out my bedroom window when my cell rang.

The ringtone was some ancient pop song fro when I was twelve, the sound distorted and screechy. I was precariously balanced with one bare leg out the window and the other wedged against my desk chair. Now was definitely not the best time for a call. "- Page 1
Notable Scene:
"I laughed wildly, totally exhilarated. Someone messed with me, I got even—a concept that before today had been totally foreign to me. Totally foreign to simpering daytime me, that is, who reacted to any sort of aggression by ducking her head, apologizing, then hiding in her room until it all blew over.
This was so much more fun. "-Page 44
Part Jekyl and Hyde with a dollop of Heroes mixed in for good measure, VESPER was butt-kicking fun! The chapters in VESPER are preceded with snippets from a tense interview with Emily and some unknown government type after the fact. I loved these transcripts and thought they really set a foreboding, suspenseful undertone to the book.  I pictured Emily in a locked room with a spotlight glaring in her face. I couldn't help but wonder—who was recording her? What was going to happen to draw this much attention to her?  Was she safe where she was now? I just had to know!

Who is Emily Webb? Emily is the narrator of Vesper. She's also a girl full of crazy contradictions. During the day she's the quiet girl who hides her curves under baggy sweatshirts and tries her best not to get noticed. Daytime Emily never stays out late partying or wears much makeup. Her idea of a rockin' Saturday evening is a sci-fi movie fest. But then one night, everything changes. Another side of Emily wants to come out to play. And let me tell you, this Emily is no wallflower. Nighttime Emily talks different, acts different and certainly dresses different. This new girl is bold and brash, with one heck of a wicked streak.  And you know what? I loved her for it.

The only downside to a book like this is that when you don't know what you are dealing with, there is inevitably a let-down when that mystery is finally revealed. After all, part of the fun about a book like VESPER is the build-up of "What is Emily Webb?" When I inevitably did find out what was going on with Emily, it took a little wind out of my sails. I think because I was having so much fun trying to figure out what she could possibly be, that I almost didn't want to know. But there wouldn't be a story if we didn't know eventually right?! I also appreciated the underlying theme of VESPER. To me, there was a really great message about being true to yourself and not letting anyone make you feel like you're not strong enough or good enough to go after what you truly want.  That's something that adults and teens alike can relate to. I look forward to seeing what Jeff Sampson has in store for us next.

1/2 Stars

SIDE NOTE:  My  favorite scene in VESPER was when Nighttime Emily almost got run over by a car and the driver threw a Taco Bell soda in her face. How often in life do people get away with the rotten things they do, and  we think back on it later wishing we had done something about it, but know we'll always be too chicken to ever do so? Well Emily never let anyone walk all over her –EVER. I loved that whole exchange with the driver- it still makes me laugh thinking about it.

COVER COMMENT: I love this cover and it adds to the suspense without giving anything away. What do you think?

Jeff Sampson is a pop-culture fanatic with an abiding love of TV and movies, much like his main character, Emily. Vesper is his first novel for young adults. Jeff lives in Tukwila, Washington. You can visit him online at www.jeffsampsonbooks.com.


Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

Sounds like it's full of lots of suspense! Love the Jekyl/Hyde aspect!

Jennifer said...

Great review. Definitely adding this one to my must read list. Sounds really good.

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I've been seeing some mixed reviews on Vesper, but I still want to read it. I do love a badass chick with a wicked streak and nighttime Emily seems to fit the bill. I'll have to pick up Vesper very soon - if only for this scene with a Taco Bell soda in the face. That sounds priceless.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

O go Emily! I kinda like her already!

Alyssa (Redhead Heroines) said...

Vesper had some super fun and entertaining moments... especially with Nighttime Emily! However, I had basically the opposite reaction that you did to the ending. I was super interested in that part of the book and wish that the entire first installment was about it... rather than 15 pages towards the end.
- Alyssa
Book Review of "Vesper" by Jeff Sampson