Can Vampries Become Human Again?

I love Francesca Lia Block! I was so excited to see her write about vampires!  Pretty Dead follows vampire, Charlotte Emerson.  After her human companion’s untimely death, Charlotte starts to notice chinks in her perfection.  It starts with a broken nail, then she can cry and sweat.  Can a vampire become human again?

The author uses her beautiful dreamlike writing to show Charlotte’s travels through the decades of her 100 years.  She travels from posh city to city with a fabulous assortment of clothes.  We get the sense from Charlotte that it is not that great to be a vampire, which is a departure from many other teen vampire books.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Talk about Francesca Lia Block’s magical realism writing.   How does she differ from other authors that write about vampries?

Why would Jared and Emily want to become vampries?

Talk about Charlotte’s transition and her loss of perfection.

What would you choose?

Fantastic Prequel to Graceling!


Fire is the exciting prequel to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.  I am a huge fan of Graceling and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one! Fire lives up to Graceling beautifully!  The only character in both books in Leck, only in Fire he is a young child instead of a king.  The first chapter gives us King Leck’s much anticipated background story. 

Fire is the last of her kind.  She is a human monster.  There are monster versions of all kinds of animals.  She was the only child of the human monster, Cansrel, a dangerous man who used his powers for his own greed and pleasure.  Besides her unnatural beauty and hair the color of fire, she has the ability to enter and control the minds of those near her.  Now Cansrel is dead.  She lives in the estate of Lord Archer, both her lover and protector.  Human monsters have a hard time surviving.  Monster preditors such as raptors and leopards hunger for their flesh more than any other human.  She must be guarded at all times.  Fire is uncomfortable with her mind control powers, and keeps her hair covered whenever she leaves her home.  The very sight of her can be so shocking to humans, they can’t control themselves around her.  They either want her for their own or want to kill her. 

Fire is summoned to King’s City to use her powers against the king’s enemies, making her question how she lives, who she should love and what she should do with her powers.

Although the characters are different from Graceling, the book has the same feel and excitement.  I love that Kristin Cashore has created another strong female character for teens!  She tells us just enough of what a “monster” is and lets is fill in the blanks with our own imagination.  How I picture Fire may be very different how another reader will imagine her.  The introduction to the child version of Leck is brilliantly creepy!  I really can’t wait for book three, Bitterblue.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

What makes Fire monsterous?  What about Cansrel?

Does she have a right to probe and control people’s minds?  Would you want that power?

Fire does not want to have children.  She wants the monster line to end.  Is she right?  If you were her, what would you do?

If the teens have read Graceling, talk about the character of King Leck as both a king in Graceling and a child in Fire.

Discuss Fire’s relationship with Archer. 

Discuss Fire’s secret involving her father.

Do you see Fire as a strong female character? 

Compare her with other female characters in young adult fiction.

Fire uses music to comfort herself.  Do you have a similar talent that makes you happy?