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I Belong

Review: Vesper by Jeff Sampson

Title: Vesper

Author: Jeff Sampson

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Deviants (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 25, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061992763 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0061992766 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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?

Quick & Dirty: The pacing of Vesper is a nightmare that will leave readers bored for the first half and overwhelmed for the last, while the story itself never pulls it together.

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

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’m still confused on how this novel’s plot came together, despite having read the sequel right after. As you can tell from the synopsis this is a character driven novel, not a plot driven one, which is why the pacing for the first 150 pages could put you to sleep. I don’t care how shy your heroine is; sneaking out her bedroom window to hard-core party with the cool kids usually isn’t enough to hold anyone’s attention. It takes our heroine a while to figure out Emily’s murder and her own nocturnal habits are connected, but when she does she starts thinking the other Emily’s possessing her.

Emily Webb (our heroine, not the dead one) is so horribly insecure at 16 that I almost couldn’t believe her character. She never leaves her house (except for school), has one best friend, and avoids confrontation like it’s her job. The personality flip that happens after Emily Cooke is shot brings out Nighttime Emily. With a voice in her head convincing her to do things she’d never considered, Emily sneaks out her window to crash parties and uses her sense of smell to judge people. That second part makes sense when you’re reading, actually, because it’s a paranormal. She’s cooler, stronger, faster, and all around better than the clumsy Daytime Emily.

This sounds cool. I expected to like the more confident Nighttime Emily, who I think the author wanted to overshadow Daytime Emily’s insecure self. Except Nighttime Emily turned out to be super boring, because the author never took the “wild child” side of her far enough to be believable. Daytime Emily could almost be a friend, but both sides of her, as well as all the supporting characters, fell flat. The author uses this Daytime/Nighttime adjustment period to set the stage for the actual plot of the novel, but frankly I couldn’t get into the characters enough to care that other kids were getting shot.

Her best friend is quickly convinced that Emily’s nighttime activities mean she’s trying to ditch her. Frankly, if Emily had ditched Maggie I might have enjoyed the book more. As a best friend she was whiny and obnoxious, falling into the stereotypical role of idiot BFF.

I enjoyed the transcript aspects of the book, where we discover a bit about the Vesper Company and what’s happened to Emily. However, the writing where Emily was narrating made her sound like a twelve year old, her insecurities and immaturities distracted me to the point where I couldn’t believe she’d actually take on Vesper with her fellow deviants. There is a tiny romance element, and I loved that it stayed small. I also enjoyed the various paths Vesper opened up for the sequels it’ll have.

Notable Scene:

“Seriously,” he said. “I don’t know who you are, but maybe we can call someone or—”

Rage burned inside me, an inferno in my gut. Lip raised into a sneer, I stood on my tiptoes and got in Mikey’s face. “I go to your school,” I said, jabbing a finger into his chest. “My name is Emily Webb. And you need to get out of my frickin’ way!”

I was angry again, more angry than I’d ever been before. With a cry, I shoved Mikey in his chest.

And he flew.

Pinwheeling his arms like a cartoon character, Mikey tumbled backward from the force of my shove. He smacked against a guy behind him, and both of them fell against a bench near the front door.

Deviants Series:

1. Vesper

2. Havoc

3. Ravage (January 22, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Vesper. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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