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Review: Drink, Slay, Love

September 5, 2011

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon& Schuster)
Pages: 320
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Format: eGalley via S&S Galley Grab
Pearl is a sixteen-year-oldvampire… fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil… until thenight a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn.Oops. 

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because,obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’reeven more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But theyquickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of NewEngland has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in highschool, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—asthe entrees. 

The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of aconscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy whomakes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if shelets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?—Goodreads

When I first started reading theunfortunately titled Drink, Slay, Love, I was very dubious—I really like the vampire genre and wasn’t too crazy about throwing unicorns in with them.But, Sarah Beth Durst’s unconventional take on the genre wooed me and I endedup having a really good time with this book. And by good time, I mean that I laughed out loud (on a plane) A LOT. 
To create her vampire-infused version of Connecticut, Durst takes a little vampire lore from the vast canon of vampireliterature (she even names one of the characters Charlaine, surely in”honor” of Charlaine Harris. I say “honor” becauseCharlaine in the book isn’t treated with very much care.), as well as from Buffy,adds in a unicorn, and churns out a witty romp of a novel. 
The main character, Pearl, is a lot offun. She’s vampy (in both senses of the word), intelligent, great with sardonicone-liners, and is all kinds of kick ass. And unlike other teenage vampires whohave gone to high school, she relishes the opportunity and treats it like ananthropological study rather than sulking about and staring at humans untilthey love her. In fact, Durst does a great job in channeling Mean Girls andHeathers into the book via Pearl’s “I am superior to all ofyou and you WILL bow to me” attitude, which is obviously problematic forthe Queen Bee of the school and her adoring minions. It’s not so problematicfor Pearl. *grins* 
While Pearl’s mission from hervampire-mafia type family is to find entrées to feed to the King of New Englandwhen he comes a’calling, she ends up making friends, especially in Evan, theteenage boy who is practically perfect AND has a hero complex (le sigh), and the overly-eager, but cunning Bethany (This is the first time I’ve encountered myname in a book. It was weird.) who is described as a “dementedkangaroo.” (I’m pretty sure people might STILL describe me that way. They definitely would have in high school. I’d like to think I’ve settled down a bit since then.) Rounding out the human cast are two guys, one of whom is namedZeke (which is the name of my dog. No lie.), who fancy themselves amateurvampire slayers.  Unfortunately for Pearl, she realizes that she actually likes these humans and doesn’t reallywant them to be snacks. But she also loves being a vampire and doesn’t want todisappoint her family. And thus the internal struggle/central crux of the plotis born.
Durst does a really great job ofcreating both a human and vampire world that are believable, and I really lovedthe idea of the vampire family that operates like a mafia. It keeps Pearl onher toes and provides a lot of drama to a novel that would have otherwiseprobably been so clichéd that not even Durst’s incredible wit could saveit. 
Overall, Drink, Slay, Love plays into every high school convention and tropeyou can think of—including a big climactic scene that takes place at, yes, the[junior] prom. While there are moments that feel a bit cheesy and perhaps alittle too formulaic, it’s never so heavy-handed that you’re rolling your eyesor throwing the book across the room in protest. So if you have it in you toget past the awful title, idea of unicorns in your vampire lore, and vampireswho do more than just brood and bite, you’ll probably end up charmed by Pearl,Evan, Bethany, and the rest of Durst’s hilarious cast. Take it from the girlwho was skeptical at first—this book is wickedly, deliciously fun. 

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