Ellen Schreiber, Vampire Kisses (Katherine Tegen Books, 2003)

If John Hughes, director extraordinaire of 80's Teen Movies — a specific genre in which a poor-but-kind, individualistic (read: weird), outcast hero/heroine takes on the snobby rich kids' clique, shows the snobs to be shallow and cruel, triumphs over the leader of the snobs and finds romance in the process — is in need of a script for the sequel to Pretty in Pink, Vampire Kisses is the leading candidate.

This young adult novel by Ellen Schreiber could easily be adapted into Pretty in Black. It has all the necessary trappings of an 80's Teen Movie script: pretty outcast heroine (Raven), poor sidekick farm girl (Becky), cruel rich snob boy (Trevor) obsessed with Raven, and mysterious new boy romantic interest (Alexander). The basic plot has been updated for 2003; Raven's a Goth instead of a New Waver, Trevor plays soccer instead of football, the new kid might be a vampire.... Pretty in Pink meets Heathers meets The Lost Boys as vampire-obsessed Raven engages in a battle of wits with the nasty Trevor, protects her less outgoing sidekick Becky, learns to like her little brother as a person, and investigates the rumors about (and falls in love with) the strange boy who has moved into the creepy haunted Mansion on the hill.

Vampire Kisses is part mystery and part teenage romance. Schreiber has a good sense of humor, and lines used in other teen-oriented works by authors who lack a sense of humor are used here again, only to amusing effect. When Raven screams, "You people just don't understand the pressure of being a teenager in my generation!" at her parents, it's less a cliché than it is a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" nod to the adults who may be reading this book.

Dialog is simple but natural, descriptive passages are vivid, and the plot — with an exceptional moment near the end when the townsfolk throw a party — is believable and fun. The cliffhanger ending means there should be a sequel coming along soon.

Lest you think my references to 80's Teen Movies in connection with Vampire Kisses are meant to denigrate the book, let's look at a shelf of my movie collection. Pretty in Pink, The Lost Boys, Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, Heathers, The Breakfast Club, Footloose.... Yes, I still watch the films of my youth. And I'm pretty sure Ellen Schreiber does, too, but rather than a derivative novel she has turned her talents to adapting the old into a new and fun story that should gain her a nice following in the young adult market.

[Maria Nutick]