Cirque du Freak and The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan
So, the premise is that a boy decides to become a vampire in exchange for his friend's life. Nobel guy huh? Especially since the feeling wasn't exactly reciprocated. Pretty good premise I think; sometimes you can tell how good/readable a book will be by its premise. And it is, I mean, it certainly captivates you and makes you keep reading, although in the "wow, but I so have better things to do" way. Ah well. Interesting to see where this goes. Will we get character development? Meh, somehow I doubt it. I kind of see this as a very "series" type of book - leaving it open to as many as the author can write, rather than a set beginning and ending.
The vampire lore. Very intersting, twisted, and kind of wtf-y to tell you the truth. Maybe I'm too used to normal vampire lore, or Buffy-type vampire lore (pretty standard, but also makes sense.) Some of this vampire lore was really kind of contrived in some cases. There are some of the usuals: can't be out in the sunlight, can be killed by a stake (but also a gun, eh what?) and of course drinking blood. But then there's this weird stuff about half-vampires. Um, what? Well, a point for creativity I suppose. See, Darren (btw, why is the characters name the same as the authors? what? It isn't even done well, re: Lemony Snicket. It's just stupid.) is a half vampire, so he can go out in the light. Like, I swear the author put that in just so that Darren could go out in the light. And the whole thing where you need human blood - not just animal blood - or you'll die. Eh. I mean, in Buffy it's mearly that human blood tastes better, but you can survive on animal blood. It doesn't make sense to have human blood required - it's too specific you know? And you can't have the audience thinking too much about the anatomy and biology of vampires, which well, dude guys, these are fantastical creatures. And then the vampaneze: "evil" vampires, who like to call themselves something different. And the thing where drinking human blood till the human dies lets the vampire take the soul. Well, okay, I guess that was kind of cool actually. But I dunno. People have very specific ideas of what a vampire is, and this is weeeeird vampire lore. And for what it's worth I haven't exactly read too many vampire books. Maybe I should.
Oh and you know how vampires are supposed to crawl out of their graves? Darren gets dug out by Mr. Crepsley. Lame! Vampires in Buffy crawl out of their graves like good, normal vampires. Getting dug out by somebody else shows a lack of independence. And vampires are surely known for their independence.
Two things are potentially set up for future plots though: one, the completely mind-numbingly obvious, is that Steve confronts Darren, saying that he became a vampire to spite Steve (cause Steve was the one that wanted to be a vampire but couldn't - he had "bad blood" (uh, wtf?)) and Steve now hates him and wants to kill him, etc. So you know that'll come up. Also, though, I thought his family life, and especially his sister, Annie, is well fleshed out, so I really hope we see them again. Can't just introduce a loving family and leave it at that. I hope we at least see Annie again, in a later book. Very intesting situations with that, I think.
Ships: Hmm, Ezra/Darren is a sort of way. They're "best friends" but there is subtext there if you want to find it. (They sleep in the same tent, and then Ezra is the "snake boy." Let me say no more.) Nothing else in the first two I can think of. Darren's still young, after all.
Kids' Books are Dirtier Than You Think: Ezra the "snake boy" and his pet snake. Clearly this is a sign that I have read too much Slytherin Harry/Draco fanfic, but oh man, you can't escape the dirty here, if you are looking for it. So many bad phrases. I swear I'm not usually like this, but yeah, fanfic. It corrupts (but no one minds.)
This post on a full page. Spoilers if I mention it.