Reviews for Reformed Vampire Support Group
Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
It s hard to get too involved in a cast of barely likable whiners and pathetic hand-wringers, but somehow that isn t much of a problem in Jinks droll vampire send-up. These bloodsuckers are anything but sexy and mysterious, as here vampirism is a cross between a defining addiction and communicable disease; those infected spend most of their time being seriously ill and attending AA-style meetings with fellow sufferers. Nina, permanently arrested at 15 years old, can t stand her fellow group members, but when one of them is found staked they all must work together to uncover the slayer before he can kill again. While readers might feel pushed rather than led through the plot, Jinks offers some wry vampire-centric twists on mystery conventions (having to repeatedly piece together what happened while literally dead to the world from sunup to sundown); and when the humor hits its mark, this can be laugh-out-loud funny. Most of the comedy, though, lies in the wide-angle skewering of support groups and fringe characters more suited to hemming and hawing than biting and sucking.
BookPage Reviews 2009 June
That's what (vampire) friends are for
They’re not charming or sexy. The undead members that make up The Reformed Vampire Support Group, by Australian author Catherine Jinks, are bored, apathetic, unattractive whiners prone to headaches, eye bleeds and nausea. Rather than spread their “infection” among more of the living, they curb their addiction and sustain themselves with specially bred guinea pigs (easy to clean up and dispose of) and supplements.
Narrator and Sydney native Nina used to be a party girl until she was fanged 51 years ago at the age of 15. Now she spends her time holed up in her faded bedroom, writing romanticized novels of vampire super-heroine Zadia Bloodstone. Former musician Dave, physician Sanford, arthritic Gladys, Internet scammer Horace and the rest of the motley group pick up odd jobs when they can (a vampire still has to pay the rent). Even their Tuesday night, AA-like support group has become mundane until fellow member Casimir (directly and indirectly responsible for most of the group’s fangings) turns up staked in his coffin.
Now the ragtag bunch must really support each other, as they solve the mystery of Casimir’s killer and protect themselves from a potential vampire slayer. They receive more help from Nina’s elderly chain-smoking mother, idealistic Father Ramon and unlikely strays they meet along the way. Because vampires are dead to the world during the day (literally and figuratively), these humans are needed to take care of daytime necessities and fill in the gaps of Nina’s narrative.
Through the adventurous twists and turns of saving herself from vampire haters, Nina discovers justice, friendship and maybe even romance. She begins to emerge from the depression, lethargy and victimization of vampirism (also symptoms of adolescence) to find life (er, death) worth living. With this budding heroine in her own right at the forefront, this ensemble of eccentric characters gives a wry spin to the ever-popular vampire tale.
As a child, Angela Leeper slept with a blanket around her neck to ward off vampires. Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
The ill-assorted bunch of vampires in this offbeat Australian novel couldn't be further from the iconic image of the dangerous, sexy night creature. Forever-fifteen-year-old Nina lives with her aging mother and spends her nights drinking guinea pig blood, battling nausea and fatigue, and attending a support group with equally weary vampires committed to not "fanging" humans. Shepherded by kindly Father Ramon, who does much of the shopping and driving for his impaired flock, the group includes wise if bossy doctor Sanford, scruffy nineteen-year-old (since 1973) Dave, and endlessly whiny Gladys, among others. To escape from her dreary existence and generate some income, Nina pseudonymously writes the chronicles of Zadia Bloodstone, the beautiful and powerful vampire-for-justice she longs to be. When a member of the group strays from its rules, getting himself staked and endangering them all, Nina channels her heroine and joins Dave (who is secretly mooning over her) and Father Ramon on a brave hunt for the vampire killer. Jinks draws her characters and their unique challenges in great detail; though the adventure takes a while to get into gear, there's plenty of blood and guts (both types) to go around. One part problem novel, one part comedy, and one part murder-mystery, this alternative vampire story is for outsiders of all kinds, underground or otherwise. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 March #2
Narrator Nina, "fanged" 35 years ago at age 15, supports herself by writing sexy vampire novels, but in fact she and her fellow Australian vampires (all seven of them) suffer from chronic nausea and extreme light sensitivity (which results in frequent eye hemorrhages), and subsist on animal blood and supplements devised by the 19th-century doctor in the group. When the barely reformed vampire who infected Nina is killed, she, rocker-vamp Dave (the liveliest of the bunch) and their human priest set off to find the killer but instead find a captive werewolf, a nerdy vampire slayer and--for Nina and Dave--a chance at love. Nina's whininess may be off-putting but her growth rings true for a stunted adolescent, and Jinks's quirky sense of humor will appeal to fans of her Evil Genius series. Those tired of torrid bloodsucker stories or looking for a comic riff on the trend will feel refreshed by the vomitous, guinea-pig-drinking accidental heroics of Nina and her pals. (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 January #4
Jinks's signature facility with plot and character development is intact as she turns to the topic of vampires--as fans can anticipate, hers are not the romantic superheroes of the Stephenie Meyers books. Hers are a ragtag bunch: anemic, whiny, unattractive, they feed on guinea pigs (because they're small, "their drained cadavers can be concealed without much effort," and they breed quickly), and they turn for support to an idealistic priest. Nina, the narrator, is in her 50s, but was "infected" at 15 and chafes at being treated like an adolescent; she writes a sensational vampire series with a seductive, powerful heroine totally unlike herself, giving Jinks opportunity for comic contrasts. Throwing in delicious details and aperus, the author works her way from the murder of one of the vampires to suspense and adventure of the sinister yet daffy variety beloved by readers of Evil Genius. The plot twists, more ornate than in previous works, ramp up the giddiness--and, perhaps, camouflage the corpses, blood and other byproducts of the genre. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) [Page 120]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 March
Gr 7 Up--Nina Harrison has been 15 years old since 1973. That's because she is a vampire. She and the members of the Reformed Vampire Support Group break the mold when compared to the accepted vampire lore that has been around since the time of Count Dracula. They are not beautiful, strong, powerful, rich, or in control. Instead they are sickly, struggling just to stay alive, living on the blood of the guinea pigs they keep, and making the best of their affliction. They have vowed not to drink human blood or be responsible for the creation of another vampire. Nina hates her boring, uneventful life, which changes drastically when Casimir is staked and the group, realizing that the killer knows who and where they are, all move in with Nina and her mother, a nonvampire. With only a silver bullet as a clue to track the vampire slayer, Nina, Dave, and Father Ramon, who sponsors the group, set out on a dangerous journey. Along the way they rescue a werewolf from an illegal fight ring, deal with a villainous father/son team, and discover that their immortal lives might have more to offer than they ever thought. Support Group is truly like no other vampire story. It is witty, cunning, and humorous, with numerous plot twists and turns. Jinks has conjured up an eccentric but believable cast of characters in a story full of action and adventure.--Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY [Page 145]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 October
Nina, fanged by Casimir when she was fifteen years old, knows that vampires are nothing like Zadia Bloodstone, heroine of the vampire romances she writes. Nina, now fifty-one, lives in fear of vampire slayers and belongs to Father Ramon's reform group. Vowing to eschew human blood--a pledge made possible by their ingestion of an enzyme supplement--Nina and the motley crew of vampires feed on guinea pigs. Nina's boring life in her mother's house changes when Casimir's ashes are found, along with a silver bullet, and she takes part in tracking down his murderer. The trail leads the vampires to the Australian outback where they become embroiled with the McKinnons who are operating werewolf fights. In the midst of saving teenage werewolf Reuben and dealing with slayer Nefly who becomes an ally, one of the vampires, Horace, breaks his vow and infects two more humans. Jink's romance has an action-packed, fastmoving plot that becomes increasingly complicated. The novel's strength is in the diverse vampire characters, including Horace with his ridiculous vampire outfit; Sanford, a doctor and organizer; and Dave, a former band musician who is in love with Nina and turns into a hero. Nina's long-suffering, non-vampire mother is well drawn, but Father Ramon is unbelievably saintly. Nina's first-person narration provides, in a mix of humor and the grotesque, details of the physiological changes (intestinal) and necessary adjustments that she makes in accepting her life as a vampire. This one is sure to be popular among vampire fans.--Hilary Crew. 4Q 4P M Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.