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Blood Thirsty

Caitlin Ferraro | Wednesday, October 13, 2010

 “Bloodthirsty” is the debut novel of Notre Dame alumna Elizabeth Meaney under the pseudonym Flynn Meaney, Flynn being the author’s middle name. Capitalizing off the current vampire craze, the novel follows sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame, a tall, skinny, pale, awkward teenager, who finds himself pretending to be a vampire to attract girls.

The novel’s tag line sums up the basic premise: “Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are totally faking it to get girls.” Finbar is the first person narrator, and Meaney voices his character perfectly. Kudos to Meaney for creating a voice that actually sounds like a guy, albeit a really sensitive one.

Finbar is horribly insecure about his looks and personality. He has always lived in the shadow of his athletic twin brother Luke.  When a series of humiliating events reveal that he is allergic to the sun, he has a chance encounter with a vampire enthusiast and realizes he can cash in on the vampire craze.

Luckily, the Frame family has just moved, so Finbar has the opportunity to become one of the undead at his new school. He spends hours studying vampire lore, from “Dracula” to “Twilight.”  His research leads him to adopt an aloof persona, limit his diet in front of others and throw out subtle comments to his susceptible female classmates.

While “Bloodthirsty” is a work of fiction, it is not a fantasy or supernatural novel. There are not actual vampires roaming New York. Thus, it is a bit of a stretch that some of the female characters in the novel actually believe Finbar is a vampire. But if a reader can look past the idiocy of these fantasy-obsessed girls, “Bloodthirsty” is a highly enjoyable light read.

Whether you are a fan of the vampire craze or not, Meaney’s jokes are spot on. She pokes fun at the ridiculous fervor of young girl fans. For instance, at a convention for all things supernatural Finbar is chased down by a pack of “Jacob Blacks.” She is also adept with her pop culture references outside of the vampire world, from “The O.C.” to “The Hills” to “Gossip Girl,” making it a novel perfectly tuned for our generation.

Finbar is not your typical hero and that is why the novel works. His voice comes through clearly in every sentence, and he is relatable to Meaney’s young adult audience. A prevalent theme throughout the work is that Finbar, just like several other smaller but significant characters, is simply trying to find where he belongs. Things gets interesting when he meets a girl, Kate, who might just like him for who he really is, a sensitive dork who loves poetry, instead of a cool pseudo-vampire.

The novel’s other characters are developed well too. Finbar’s relationship with his overprotective mother is absolutely hilarious. She is a quintessential conservative, Catholic mother who constantly worries about her awkward son. Due to Finbar’s lack of social life, there are several references to time spent watching chick flicks with her.

While “Bloodthirsty” succeeds in character development, it fails in its age appropriateness. Yes, Finbar is a 16-year-old boy, which suggests it is normal how much he thinks about sex, but his obsession becomes too much. Meaney seems to be attempting to make Finbar a realistic character; however, relentless references to his unfortunate virginal status and the breast sizes of his classmates and teachers are unnecessary and at times vulgar. STDs, drinking, and drugs are not off limits, but for a novel that suggests it is for ages 12 and up, the focus on sex is excessive.

While Meaney might be subtly reacting to the themes of chastity and purity in “Twilight,” this novel is supposed to be for young adults but appears to cross the line. “Bloodthirsty” would be better marketed to a high school to college age audience.

Aside from the sometimes-crude sexual references, the novel is quite funny. Finbar is a charismatic, intelligent protagonist who makes thought-provoking jokes. Readers want to root for him. He is sarcastic and witty, best shown through his narration and conversations with love interest Kate.

 In the end, the novel is an entertaining young adult work that turns the vampire craze on its head. Even though fall is upon us, it is hard not to classify “Bloodthirsty” as a perfect beach read. One can only expect more good things to come from new novelist Meaney.