One of the best things about Twitter is how it gradually connects you to like-minded awesome people and total weirdos (quickie shoutout to my bffs, @Spidey004 and @AmyZesbaugh 🙂 as well as the occasional celebrity who might eventually recognize your username and maybe notice that you and your twitter pals engage in extremely long punning contests that only end when someone has pulled out the thesaurus and/or reverted to swearing. And sometimes they join in.
Caissie is one of those friends – Paul F Tompkins, who I followed because of the Best in Show podcast I used to download every week like I was going to comedy writing church, recommended her and I obediently clicked “Follow” and started chiming in with the occasional smartass remark which led to the occasional smartass exchange. And then I found out who she was, and began to flail and get all self-conscious and I remember Caissie said something like “Hey, chill out, we’ve got a good thing going!” So I tried to forget that she’s an Emmy-nominated comedy writer who tells jokes and is funny FOR A LIVING in addition to being an honest, friendly, eloquent, engaging presence in my online world. Who I knew solely from her writing on the internet and in one Union Hall reading where we finally met in person and she introduced me to John Hodgman by being all “Oh, do you know John?” and I tried to remember what she said and ABOVE ALL NOT FLAIL. (I suspect I was not smooth).
See, Caissie has done a very cool thing – she has written a book. The real kind. With pages and a cover and everything. It’s a YA novel about an eternally teenage vampire, Jane Jones, who has the misfortune to be hemo-intolerant. That’s right, not only is she a blood-sucking monster permanently set apart from her human classmates…she can’t even do the blood-sucking monstery part without swelling up like a blistered pufferfish.
Jane is caught between at least three different worlds. Family (of vampires), competitive peers (…vampires) and clueless peers (…Eli) Somewhat unwillingly Jane is befriended by a human kid named Eli, who’s awkward and kind and brace-faced and smells like cookies (if you were or are a geek your inner tween is already swooning), while at the same time getting caught up in the startling possibility that there might be a cure for Undeaditude. Not only that, but the boy who wants to accompany her back into a human existence is none other than Timothy, the most fangtastic vampire in school. (Caissie avoids these puns with saintlike discipline, which is especially admirable when you consider what a stake she has in the proceedings. Hey, we all have our crosses to bear, right? Right? Somethingsomething B positive?)
So a gal’s gotta make some decisions and deal with some weird behavior by her formerly cool history teacher and generally do what a teen vamp’s gotta do amid the logistics of living out of direct sunlight.
Me and fantasy and vampires go way back, so I knew I’d like the book, and obviously I’m far from impartial. What took me by surprise was the depth of feeling Caissie captures in just 240 pages. I don’t know about you, but there was a lot of fear for me just being in middle and high school. And Jane’s world is scary. Things move at a rapid pace, events are out of our control, we don’t quite understand our role in the world around us, and we don’t always understand the motivations of the people around us….and that’s in Jane’s world too. And also? Jane’s world is pretty hilarious. I wasn’t kidding when I told Caissie that I almost missed my stop because I was so wrapped up in lunchtable conversation at Port Lincoln. I wanted to go to there and I wasn’t ready to come back to here quite yet.
If I were still a teenage girl, or hanging out with them… or (hint hint) if I were currently parenting one…. I would want a fun, exciting vampire story where the main character has a personality and willpower to make her own decisions. Heck, I’m 25 and I STILL want books with narrators who are Proactive! Sarcastic! Relatable! A Buffy fan! And where nobody sparkles, nobody creepily watches anyone sleep, nobody sulkily sneers at a werewolf while being a douche….. (look I HATED Twilight ok?!)
This isn’t Twilight. This is better, because it’s what happens when a smart, funny lady concocts a great premise and then executes it like a champ. So go buy it, read it, and after the end sneaks up on you before you’re quite ready to leave….be super glad you can just hop on Twitter and pester the author for a sequel.