Revelations

Revelations: A Blue Bloods Novel by Melissa de la Cruz

The Blue Bloods series is one of the many YA titles that’s trying to continue to ride the Twilight vampire wave. I picked it up, along with some of the other imitators, because there were some things I enjoyed about Twilight, despite my rational, critically-trained mind’s protests. I wanted to see if any of Twilight‘s imitators could pull off a vampire plot that preserves the appealing aspects of Twilight without sinking to its misogynistic, shoddily-written lows. Some of these books have been pleasant surprises, or at least fun enough not to be a waste of time.

The Blue Bloods are vampires who are immortal, but their immortality comes through reincarnation. They are some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. There is a mythology about how the Blue Bloods came to be that involves the Garden of Eden and the Fall. They are actually angels or fallen angels in an epic conflict with the Silver Bloods, who are basically evil vampires who attack and kill Blue Bloods. The main characters are the younger members of the Blue Bloods, coming into their inheritance and remembering their past lives for the first time.

This is the third novel in the series, and I read the other two in the past year. The most interesting parts of this series to me are the relationships between the characters. Schuyler, who is actually half Blue Blood and half mortal, is in a love triangle with her human best friend Oliver and Jack Force, the hottest guy in school and one of the most powerful Blue Bloods of her generation. Jack has his own love triangle with Schuyler and Mimi, who he has bonded with in past lives and who basically sees them as engaged. Mimi makes a great villain, one who is somewhat sympathetic, especially in this love triangle, as well as formidable and fierce. You know she’s not going down without a fight. Another character, Bliss, is friends with both Mimi and Schuyler, and may be Schuyler’s half sister, and is in love with this guy Dylan who is acting crazy and violent because he was attacked by the evil Silver Bloods and may be becoming one of them.

The worst thing about this series is its obsession with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Very few scenes fail to name-drop some fashion designer, fancy Manhattan hotel, or posh restaurant. Two characters have become models, and there are detailed descriptions of their photo shoots and fashion shows. I have a few problems with this subplot or scenery:

  • First, and least importantly, it’s uninteresting to me personally. The fashion and the name-dropping are not my thing. But it doesn’t have to be, and if that were the only problem with the theme and with the book I’d overlook it.
  • Second, it makes me hate the characters in a catty way and I don’t like feeling catty. When Schuyler is described eating potato chips and the narrator interjects to remind you that the Blue Bloods never gain an ounce no matter what they eat, and don’t even need to eat to live, and then in the next scene Little Miss Vamp is getting fitted for a couture show, it makes me want to gouge out her fictional eyes. It just seems cruel to wave that fantasy in the face of girls who have to live in bodies that don’t work like that, in a culture that surrounds them with delicious processed treats and then frowns upon them when they don’t have a perfect “bikini body.”
  • Third, it seems unimportant to the plot. Yes, the Blue Bloods are rich because they’re immortal and they rule the world from behind the scenes. That is part of the plot. But just because they’re rich doesn’t mean they need to be Paris Hilton. The power of these characters could be expressed in much more interesting ways than through their designer clothes.
  • Fourth, it seems such a blatant, transparent attempt to appeal to teen and preteen girls that it’s kind of insulting. Is this what the author and her editors and marketers think young girls are interested in? (As a point of comparison, I think when I was the age that this book is aimed at, I was reading about a sickly filly who goes on to win the Kentucky Derby.) It just seems like they must have a very stereotyped view of girls and think they are really shallow. Like they’re afraid if they don’t dress up the vampires in fancy expensive clothes, then the girls won’t like the story. It makes me think of those obnoxious boutiques that sell clothes and accessories for girls ages 8-12 (most of it age-inappropriate in my opinion, and some with anti-feminist slogans like “Too Cute to Do Math!”), and adults who assume any girl that age will love any present from that store because they’re all the same, right, and they just live for fashion!
  • Worst of all, this theme feeds a culture that is already obsessed with fashion and unattainable riches. Further glamorizing the uber-wealthy just encourages the materialism that is arguably contributing to depression and relationship issues on a personal level, in addition to worldwide economic problems. Ten-year-old girls will read this book like a catalog of all the things they never knew they couldn’t afford but now cannot be happy without.

Maybe it was because I was already annoyed by the aspirational materialism, but the whole vampires-are-really-angels reincarnation mythology started to bother me too. It just seemed overly complicated and tiresome; it isn’t done in an elegant enough way to keep it from dragging. This is an issue with a lot of fantasy plots, but usually I like fantasy, so I don’t think the problem is me. In Blue Bloods, each character has an “angel” name, as well as their “current cycle” name. Whenever the angel stuff was mentioned, the narrator had to remind you how Jack is really the Angel of Destruction who rained fire on Sodom or something. Some rituals were introduced in this book, and they just seemed hokey. It felt like de la Cruz was trying too hard to make the story absolutely epic by bringing in all this stuff about angels and eternity and the end of the world. In the end, the mystery had one of those “where did she pull that from?” endings, which sometimes annoy me. I hate when the ending feels like a “gotcha!” from the author because there was no way the reader ever could have figured it out.

I don’t think I’ll read the next book in the series. As nasty as this review has become, this is actually a close call. I didn’t hate the experience of listening to this book, but the more I think about the book, the more disgusted I become with it. I can’t find enough positive elements in the book to outweigh these bad elements. The characters and their relationships are somewhat compelling, especially Oliver’s self-sacrificing love for Schuyler and Jack and Mimi’s twisted relationship, but they’re not compelling enough that they keep me from caring about the materialism and the fashion fetish. In order make a good argument in a public forum for why the next book is worth reading to me, I’d need to be able to show here that the good elements overshadow the bad ones, and to me they just don’t. I can make an argument for finishing a book I’m not thrilled with, just to give it a chance to redeem itself, to check it off the list, and to feel a sense of accomplishment in finishing what I started, even if the ending doesn’t pull through. But continuing a series that has proved itself unsatisfactory seems pointless. There are guilty pleasure books, and then there are books that are supposed to be guilty pleasures, but which don’t give enough actual pleasure to be worth the guilt.

This is a good thing. This blog will improve my reading through raising the bar for my reading list. Having to write about my books will keep me accountable to myself for not wasting my time on stuff that’s not worth it.

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