Book Review

Bite Me by Melissa Francis

D+

Title: Bite Me
Author: Melissa Francis
Publication Info: Harper Teen July 2009
ISBN: 0061430986
Genre: Young Adult

Book CoverAJ has the hots for Ryan, but as the story opens, Ryan’s dad is about to marry her mom, and so now it’s all icky stepbrotherlust. Whoa.

Could have stopped there – plenty of conflict. But no, there’s more!

AJ is a vampire and she can’t tell anyone. Not even Ryan knows. And she’s able to live among humans with a great deal of subterfuge. While she has some problems controlling her fangs and lust for havoc and blood, she’s pretty much totally covered. She has younger siblings, and Ryan has younger siblings, and even though the sibs never snack on her hemopopsicles by accident (where does she hide them?), it’s all paranormal Brady bunch up in there.

Could have stopped there – plenty of conflict. But no, there’s more!

Weird shit starts to happen. AJ and Ryan have a falling out and Ryan acts like a total priss ass diva (more on that not-heroic behavior in a minute) and then this random Scottish housekeeper moves in and starts hanging window boxes and cooking up a storm. And yes: there’s “dinna” and “wee lad” and a mention of how one should not “fash” oneself.

The plot, it looks like this cake:

Marvelous to behold in its construction, but I always wonder if it looks better than it actually is.

And that’s this book: it sounds like fun, and it reads fast and furious and it’s hard to stop once you get going—but in the end, I lifted my eyes from the text and thought, “Huh? What just happened?”

By the time the Scottish housekeeper rolled in, with no introduction or preparation from the parents and who ARE these slackasses to invite live in help without, you know, introducing the children to the person now frying twelvety tons of chicken in the kitchen, I added another layer to the topsy-turvy cake in my mind and wondered how all this would end up. With a start up that full of “Wait, there’s a what now?” I figured the resolution would rock.

Instead, a whole lot happened and all of it amounted to about an inch of progress.

AJ, as a narrator, I rather liked. She can admit her faults, and while she doesn’t always listen to her better judgment or her own instincts (which, given the whole blood thing may not always be a bad thing) she does have the best of intentions and is trying to be a good person. She’s hyper aware of the role that she’s been cast in – a “good girl” who listens to everyone and does what she’s told – but when she decides to rebel a bit, the whole “good girl” thing wasn’t established enough that I believed it aside from being told by both AJ and her friends that it was true. AJ does struggle in a genuine fashion, though, when she is faced with a really sticky, irritating, not-at-all-easy choice. That’s one of the things I enjoy about reading YA: I still feel that ambivalence when confronted with difficult choices and wish I could take the easier way out, but I can’t – so I relate to characters younger (and older) than I am who endure the same difficulties.

AJ’s conundrums are stacked on top of each other (see above visual). Does she go for what she wants (Ryan) even though her mother and stepfather have complicated that situation irrevocably? Does she contain her other lusts when they could save her ass? Whom should she trust? Do people want to help her or do they want to take advantage of her? If the people she trusts are withholding information, can she still trust them? AJ’s reaction to the evolving WTFery of her life is authentic, and her narration reflects it.

The hero of sorts, Ryan, is so mercurial I couldn’t believe he was AJ’s love interest.

He was all, “You don’t want to make out with me when our parents are getting married? FINE I’m going to storm off in a snit with This Other Girl to make you jealous and make out with her and WAIT A MINUTE I MISSSS YOUUUUU.”

Fuck off, assmonkey.

AJ spends a LOT of time thinking about Ryan, and telling the reader about Ryan, and trying to deny how bad she has it for Ryan, but the scenes they have together are SO short they prove nothing,except that the next time Ryan doesn’t get his way after getting a little hot with AJ, he’s going to go all Katy Perry and turn cold.

What an emotional fuckwit. Verily, I say again, fuck OFF, assmonkey.

The Other Girl, aka Lindsey, is so shallowly drawn I couldn’t figure out why AJ was bothered by her at all. She’s a downer… she’s jealous… she’s socially awkward… she really has the hots for Ryan. So? Totally understandable. Not everyone is a perfectly beautiful vampire with a huge loving family and twelvety tons of fried chicken in the house prepared by the Scottish housekeeper.

I developed a ribboned basket of sympathy for Lindsey because she had to deal with Ryan’s mercurial tendency towards “love bipolar,” and she didn’t do anything to deserve being led on except be a bit of a drip.

And there were SO MANY COINCIDENCES.

For example: if you’re the villain, and you’re creating a false sense of trust based on the ENORMOUS LEAPS OF JUDGMENT of the heroine, you should totally leave your private papers out on the table, especially with a book on top, turned to the page containing the most crucial plot development.

OR: If you are Leaping Heroine, Questionable Judgment, and you suspect one of your very best friends is betraying you, you should totally believe her when you discover her in a very damning circumstance and she says, “This is not what it looks like.”

Oh, yeah, that works every time!

And since when can you put photos up on Facebook and set them to go live at a later date? I didn’t think that was possible.

Of course there were many Unanswered Questions and there will be ample room for sequels: what secret is Ryan hiding? How are all these weird unexplained things happening? How often can AJ blame her own denial for not wanting to know WHY in the name of CRAP there is all this WEIRD SHIT happening? Why is she so tolerant of weird shit, when she is living a hidden life as a vampire? When will someone other than Ryan and AJ be watching the multitude of younger children living in the house? When will Scottish McHousekeeper and Mom be in the room at the same time?! Don’t even get me started on the question of violations committed by the sheriff, who seeks to question AJ multiple times in inappropriate locations without the presence of a parent or guardian. Of course, AJ isn’t sure if her stepfather counts as a parent or guardian. Would adoption and parental status be something you’d want to know about if you were, say, a senior in high school? Wouldn’t the SCHOOL want to know this shit?

Watching this book evolve was like seeing one of those topsy-turvy cakes as it was constructed and wondering if the effort that went into creating it will be worth the experience of eating it. Can you even eat it with all those supports in place hidden among the icing? Mmm! Dowel rods!

What, you want more simile? You can has moar simile!

Reading “Bite Me” was like approaching a roller coaster that from the ground looks really fast and high with huge mountains and scary drops and you anticipate some serious exhilaration. But when I finished, I didn’t think the highs were high enough or the drops fast enough to really provide the thrills and experience I was looking for. All there was for me was speed, and I ended up nearly at the same place where I started.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    MIreya says:

    So … 1 flag?

  2. 2
    jmc says:

    The gorgeousness of that cake (despite the fondant) has totally distracted me from the review.  It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland or The Cat in the HatBite Me could be awful, but if I see it at the bookstore, I’ll probably think, mmm, cake, might be good. 

    Okay, will go back and re-read the review, ignoring the cake.

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    I agree, that’s a gorgeous, Dr. Seuss-y cake.  I want one for my birthday!

  4. 4
    Book Chic says:

    I really liked reading your review- it was pretty funny, though we differ in opinion. I absolutely loved Bite Me and thought it was a wonderful book, and I’m excited for the sequel. It’s not the best book ever by any means but not the worst. For me, it was above average, like a B rating.

  5. 5
    Carrie Lofty says:

    And since when can you put photos up on Facebook and set them to go live at a later date? I didn’t think that was possible.

    Ah, so that’s why you asked this the other day.

  6. 6
    Liann says:

    Where did that cake picture come from? It really does looks marvelous. In black and white, I would totally pick that as my wedding cake.

  7. 7
    Jessica says:

    Great, now when I do get that book I’m going to think about cake. Yummy yummy cake.

  8. 8

    I wonder if you’ll hear liberals spewing that nonsene like “He’s not President yet. We need to speak with one voice in times of international crisis”??
    lol. That didn’t stop Obama from talking about EVERYTHING else—including our policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  9. 9

    As others have told you, your cake layers need to be stone cold before you try to frost them. They may also not be level. If you are trying to work with layers that are pretty humped in the middle, stacking one on top of the other will cause the top layer to break in half. Try to make your layers more even or use a long, thin bread knife to even them off before you frost them. (Put the cut side down or you will never get the frosting on crumb free!)

  10. 10

    1 loaf artisan French bread or wide baguette
    1 – 2 heads of garlic
    1 – 2 sticks of unsalted butter
    1 bunch of chives (optional)
    zest of one lemon (optional)

    Slice that loaf of bread right up the middle so you have two halves (use a serrated knife for this). Now set them on their backs, cut side up. Mince the garlic or push it through one of those crushers – either way is fine. Now add it to the butter you should be melting in a small saucepan.

    Now take a basting brush (or any brush for that matter – pastry, etc) and start slathering the garlic butter all across that bread. Really go for it, let it soak in. Make sure you get all those garlic chunks evenly distributed.

    Dominos uses a ‘double-bake’ method. This is when you bake at a standard temperature (350 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes to heat the bread (particularly if it is coming out of the freezer), and then brown it off for color under the broiler for a minute or two.

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