Reviews for Sweet-blood
Booklist Monthly Selections - # 1 May 2003
Gr. 8-12. Sixteen-year-old Lucy Szabo, who dresses in black and is a frequent visitor to a vampire chat room where she calls herself Sweetblood, is a diabetic whose condition dictates her life. She constantly monitors her glucose level, watches her calorie intake, and keeps an eye on her physical activity. After she submits a creative, but grim, composition theorizing that vampire legends are based on the appearance and behavior of untreated diabetics, her teacher becomes alarmed, her parents are called, and she's packed off to a therapist. Meanwhile, Lucy has become acquainted with an older man who runs a salon for young goths, fancies himself a vampire, and has his eye on her. Hautman does an outstanding job of making Lucy's theory and her struggle to accept herself credible. The diabetes/vampire idea, based on information Hautman discovered while investigating vampire stories, eventually gives way to a cautionary motif about teen safety in chat rooms, but that's not enough to undermine some really good writing: Lucy's clever, self-deprecating voice is endlessly original. This imaginative, intriguing "what if" novel will attract fans of vampire stories, as well as teens who feel different from the norm--in short, all of them. ((Reviewed May 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Fall
Sixteen-year-old Lucy's theory--that vampires of folk legend may well have been untreated diabetics--will fascinate vampire aficionados. This idea reinforces her self-image as weird-diabetes-girl and meshes neatly with her transformation from angelic blond to raven-haired cynic. Lucy is a smart, savvy teen in the midst of reinventing herself--and coming to the liberating realization that the possibilities are infinite. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #4
For all its glam otherworldliness, Hautman's "vampire novel" is far less fantastical than his YA sci-fi novels (Mr. Was; Hole in the Sky, rev. 5/01). Sixteen-year-old Lucy Szabo considers herself one of the modern Undead--a person, she theorizes, whose natural lifespan has been extended by medical science. Lucy has been managing her diabetes for most of her life with insulin shots, glucose tests, and constant calculations (this much exercise plus this much blood sugar equals no pizza at the mall). Set forth in a cogent but ill-received school paper, Lucy's theory--that vampires of folk legend may well have been untreated diabetics--will fascinate vampire aficionados. This idea reinforces her self-image as weird-diabetes-girl and meshes neatly with her transformation from angelic blond to raven-haired cynic in black makeup and clothes. Her forays into the cyberspace Transylvania room lead her to the local goth scene and, perhaps, the one true predator in town. Hautman drops a hazy veil between dangers real and imagined; though Lucy's brand of vampirism grounds us in medical fact, we're often on slippery ground, negotiating complicated areas of identity and a potentially deadly chronic disease. With Lucy, Hautman gives YA literature another smart, savvy teen in the midst of reinventing herself--and coming to the liberating realization that the possibilities are infinite. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 June #1
A gripping, painful, and well-written coming-of-ager with a twist. Diabetic Lucy Szabo's world is populated by legions of the Undead: those, like herself, who are only alive due to modern medicine. Untreated diabetes, she believes, is the true source of vampire legend, which makes her a potential vampire. Though she wears mostly black, reads Anne Rice, and spends time on vampire chat rooms, Lucy is adamantly "not goth." She is, however, 16, angry, and flunking out of school, and her worried parents confiscate her computer. Bitter and lonely, Lucy lets her health deteriorate as she befriends those who, while potentially dangerous, seem to understand her troubles. To survive, she must learn to preserve her individuality without building a personality centered on despair. Lucy is richly drawn: smart and likable, with wit and a knack for language. Despite a cast of characters straight out of a formulaic problem novel, an original and powerful tale. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 June #1
Hautman, an insulin-dependent diabetic, brings an unusual perspective to the anemic horror topic with his portrayal of Lucinda Szabo, the vampire-obsessed diabetic who narrates this tale with wit and sarcasm. "Diabetics were the original, the real vampires," she writes in "The Sad Truth About Bloodsucking Demons"-an English assignment that lands her in hot water with her parents and teacher. Like his Stone Cold and Mr. Was, Hautman creates an edgy protagonist in the sharply intelligent Lucy. From the first chapter, the author lays out her love/hate relationship with blood: "Blood is my friend. Without it my cells shrivel," she begins. By the end of the chapter, she concludes, "Blood is my enemy. It carries death to my cells." Hautman traces the 16-year-old former A student's slide downward as she dyes her blonde hair black, wears attire to match and almost drifts away from her best friend, Mark. Lucy (aka "Sblood") haunts vamp/net chat rooms as she researches her "condition," bringing her under the radar of Wayne "Draco" Smith, a middle-aged cybervamp who feeds off minors by staging goth parties featuring alcohol. The novel turns darker as he seduces Lucy intellectually, appealing to her wit and her pride in her uniqueness. Smith discovers "Sblood's" location and tracks her down via a classmate, who scores her an invitation to a Halloween party that turns into a life-threatening event for Lucy. As Lucy enters an insulin-deprived state of mind, her narrative mirrors her sense of insanity, the blending of the real and unreal. The exotic theme coupled with the heroine's highly recognizable feelings of oddity and isolation make for a tantalizing read. Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 September #1
The author traces a vampire-obsessed 16-year-old diabetic's steep slide downward as she is intellectually seduced by a middle-aged cybervamp via the Internet. "The exotic theme coupled with the heroine's highly recognizable feelings of oddity and isolation make for a tantalizing read," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) n Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 July
Gr 9 Up-Hautman is known for tackling unusual topics in his fiction, and this book is no exception. Lucy Szabo has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since she was 6, and now, at age 16, she has developed an interesting theory that links vampirism with diabetic ketoacidosis. When she explains her theory in a creative writing paper, however, her teacher, counselor, and parents become concerned that Lucy may finally be "too weird" and take steps to find help for her. When her computer is removed from her room and she is unable to frequent the Transylvanian chat room, Lucy decides that perhaps real-life adventures are in order. With a new friend, she ventures into the world of tarot cards and goth, perhaps meeting a real vampire in the flesh, while allowing her diabetes to spiral out of control. Teens eager for vampire stories will find Lucy's link between diabetes and vampirism fascinating and plausible. Most of the characters are stock, but the protagonist stands out as being an intelligent, curious young woman who is dealing with all of the usual adolescent angst, compounded by her condition. No longer wishing to be controlled by anything, she decides to stop conforming completely, with almost deadly results. This book should appeal to a wide range of interests, from those looking for a good vampire book to those touched by the illness.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2003 October
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Szabo has diabetes and is fascinated by vampires. She has come to the conclusion that the vampires of ancient legends were actually untreated diabetics, a theory that she enjoys discussing in a vampire chat room. She dresses in black, reads Anne Rice, and is attracted to Dylan, a mysterious student in her French class, who introduces her to Wayne, an intriguing older man who role-plays as a vampire. After sneaking out on Halloween night to accompany Dylan to a party at Wayne's house, Lucy drinks too much and collapses into a diabetic coma while walking home. Rescued by Mark, her loyal childhood friend and neighbor, she wakes up in the hospital much wiser and with a newfound appreciation for those who love her. Hautman, a diabetic himself, creates a thoroughly believable, smart, and likeable character in Lucy. His imagery is witty and energetic, and his style of writing in first-person present tense gives crispness and a feeling of immediacy to the novel. Lucy's anger at her disease leads to isolation and self-destructive behavior, such as failure to regulate her insulin, but her unfailing humor and common sense prevail in the end. There are no "real" vampires in this book. Nevertheless, the predator Wayne, an adult who hosts wild parties for teenagers, is more chilling than any vampire could be. Hautman's warning is serious but subtle and will be better understood by older readers.-Dotsy Harland. 5Q 4P J S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews