Review of 'Throat'
By R.A. Nelson, 2011
Alfred A. Knopf
Rating: 👻👻👻 (3 out of 4 boos)
“R. A. Nelson takes us on a supernatural thrill ride, a modern-day vampire story set on a NASA base and filled with space-and-science intrigue. Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She’s shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood. Is Emma now a half-vampire girl? One thing soon becomes clear: the vampire Wirtz is fierce and merciless, feared even by his own kind, and won’t leave a job undone.”
What’s the main character like?
Emma, the first-person narrator, creates much-needed humor toward a topic (vampires) that is often treated very, very seriously. Don’t get me wrong: serious vampire fiction is also enjoyable, but her sarcasm and down-playing of her situation is a fresh take on the genre. Her voice also adds to the emotional quality of the book because here’s a girl trying to deal with things like epilepsy, an ex-best friend, first love, missing her family, a creepy villain, and vampirism. Her humor reveals her need to deflect from the chaos that surrounds her life.
How scary is it?
There are some tense moments that made me hold my breath, especially throughout the climax. Also, there are some graphic (and weirdly sensual) descriptions of blood-sucking. Suspenseful is a more apt word than scary here.
Who might like this book?
If you love vampire books but are in the mood for something different, give this book a try. I chose this book because of its obvious vampire subject matter (as shown on the cover) but had no idea it was going to take a scientific turn when Emma runs away to the NASA base in Huntsville, Alabama. I found it a pleasant surprise and enjoyed two things coming together that I never thought would have meshed well. Nelson also plays with common vampire tropes, sticking to some traditional mythology, but messing with many expected traits.
What did I like best?
Emma’s feelings toward her family members, especially her little sister and grandfather, add a lot of emotional depth to the book. Instead of getting overpowered by the plot, the character Emma shines through as someone very real and likable.
What wasn’t my favorite?
Although the length of this book (453 pages in the version I read) demands a thorough climax, I found myself wishing the last part of the book moved a little quicker. The NASA base setting allowed for multiple location changes throughout the climax, which only seemed to add to its length. But perhaps that’s a result of me liking the characters so much and hoping they would achieve safety with speed!