Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Fang Girl by Helen Keeble

Release Date: September 11, 2012
Author: Helen Keeble
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 352 pages
Source: Local Indie Bookstore

"Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:

1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets.(Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally:
6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more."


Characters: Jane Greene woke up as a vampire, and being a vampire super fan was thoroughly prepared once she realizes her predicament, or at least she thinks she does. Whenever her character is faced with a new vampiric quandary she will call upon her advanced knowledge of vampires to figure out what will happen, let's just say she's wrong most of the time. That being said, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with her spouting off what will happen because of her vampire fan girl status, though depending on how wrong she is it becomes rather humorous. The rest of her family, is a little off, her mother treats her like a science experiment and her father seems to want what's best for her, but will quickly side with his wife on many arguments. Her brother was by far my favorite, mainly because he's a steampunk nerd (huge +) but also because he adds most of the humor.

Romance: Despite the summary saying that she meets a ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make-out with her, I felt like this book was lacking in the romance department. Well, not lacking exactly, but I feel like it was falsely advertised, which is most likely the publisher's fault not the author's. Even though Jane and Van the vampire hunter do seem to form a romantic bond, it happens really slowly, think molasses slow. I have no problem with it and even find it refreshing since I'm not pelted with romance for 85% of the book, I just wish it was advertised better.

Humor: So, the reason I got this was because I thought it would be a fun satire on teenage girls obsessing over vampires. Even though that isn't exactly what I got I do believe that this book makes the vampire genre more approachable with it's witty humor and hilarious moments. In some ways it, good-naturedly, pokes fun at the girls who swoon over vampires and see them as romantic icons instead of blood-sucking monsters.

Predictability: Despite one or two extremely predictable moments, I was completely caught of guard for every other twist and turn. I love how Ms. Keeble writes, because there isn't much foreshadowing but when you a struck with a sudden twist you still don't feel like it came out of nowhere and everything seemed like a natural progression. I couldn't be happier with the state of the surprises, they were both shocking and well thought out.

Ending: I'm kind of on fence over the ending, it's not that I didn't like it or that it ended weirdly, it's mainly over whether this book should have been stand-alone or not. I truly believe that this could have been a fun short stand-alone novel, but instead it looks like it's going to be a series, which I always love, I'm just apprehensive about it being a series, but that's probably because for most of the book I thought it was going to be stand alone, but it wasn't until the last few chapters that I realized it's only the first installment in a series.

Overall, I'll give this a 4 out of 5 and it's really only getting that because the narrator can get a bit annoying at times, however since it was only because of her thinking she knows about vampires when she really didn't I'm sure that will be toned down in the next installment. I strongly recommend borrowing this from your local library at the very least, if not going out and buying it the day it comes out like I'll be doing.

P.S. Be sure to check out my Book Review Index for fast and easy review browsing. Also be sure to follow me by Email using the form in the sidebar and on Twitter (@FlyeZachary93) to stay up to date on reviews, mailbox, and Most Wanted posts as well as my "super secret" upcoming giveaway.

Up Next: Ten by Gretchen McNeil 


  1. Helen Keeble here. :)

    The original version of FANG GIRL (the manuscript bought by my editor) was actually pitched as a stand-alone, and had a much more conclusive ending. Unfortunately, as my editor pointed out to me during revisions, it was a very rushed ending, which skipped over practically a whole books' worth of complications... *wry grin* So we moved the ending back, to a point where the immediate threat has been dealt with but there are still stormclouds on the horizon... (trying to avoid spoilers here!)

    Debut authors actually have a really tough time with the question of whether their first book should be a standalone or a sequel. It can be hard to get publishers to commit to a series - they obviously want to see how the book one sells before they fork over any more money - so it's sometimes easier to sell a standalone. But at the same time, publishers want to know that if a book DOES do well, the author can follow up with a sequel to keep the fans happy! So often a debut author has to try to walk a fine line between wrapping up enough of the plot in the first book, while still leaving enough open for a sequel.

    (IIRC, there was another YA book recently where the original ARC had a much more conclusive final chapter than the final version, because based on feedback from the ARC readers the publishers decided they wanted to extend the book into a series. I _think_ it was Hush, Hush, but I may be misremembering)

    As it turns out, my next book (which will be out next year) isn't a sequel to FANG GIRL - it's another YA paranormal comedy, but not involving vampires. And it IS a real, true stand-alone novel! *grin*

    (I am still planning to do a sequel to FANG GIRL, but it seemed to make sense to do something non-vampire next, as I think a lot of readers are a bit jaded on that particular paranormal creature. I hope that they might be tempted to pick up my next one, even if they decide to give FANG GIRL a pass)

    Anyway, thank you SO much for such a thorough, thoughtful review!

  2. This book looks totally different than anything I've read. Interesting. Thanks for the review! Great to see the author's comments, as well.