Monday, January 30, 2012

Afterlight by Elle Jasper

Published November 2, 2010.

Author website.

Savannah's most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe, lives on the edge. Now she's put over the edge when her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by vampires. Her only ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, attracted to Riley's beauty and rare blood type. To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley faces dangers she's never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour it all... (

I stumbled across AFTERLIGHT purely by accident. I was searching Goodreads for one title, of course similar, but this one got stuck in my head. When I pulled it up I knew it wasn't what I was looking for but I was intrigued by the cover. I read the blurb and decided to add it to my want-to-read list. It sat there for a little while and when I went on one of my book-buying binges I picked it up, where it promptly sat in my tangible TBR pile for a while. When I finally got around to reading it I was SO, SO, SO happy that I came across it.

Now, when I think of an unconventional tattoo artist I think of someone wearing GAP that drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. But that's besides the point. But aside from that, that blurb really isn't anything different. It's not. A vampire attracted to a human because of her blood type? Yawn. Really. But there was something about it that kept me thinking that it wasn't quite the same as the rest. And I was right. To a point.

It had some vague TWILIGHT-ish similarities with the family of vampires (except this one is an actual family, not adopted) that are "humane" vampires, a couple of off the cuff rogue vampires and their pack of newlings going insane in a city, Riley's rare blood that drives vampires insane and that's kinda where it ends and the original pieces pick up. Like the hoodoo/voodoo stuff. That plays a very prominent role and I really ended up liking Riley's adoptive grandparents. They just had an unusual aspect to them that one doesn't tend to find in this kind of reading that really made it all stand out. It was set in Savannah, a place I'm not all that familiar with and it's not "typical." Meaning it's not your normal New Orleans/New York City get-up. Really, it's just a random city and I liked that. Plus it was really obvious that Jasper knows Savannah with the detail that she wrote about it. All the cemeteries, the moss, the smells. It just all popped off the page and it felt like I was there while reading it.

The writing isn't stellar. I've definitely read better. Riley toes the edge of being a bit of a Sue at times (she can fight with the best of them, in super high heels no less, has a six pack to die for, tiny little body, is an awesome tattoo artist, self-made, rare blood, etc.) but she's just enough not and someone that can really stand on her own that I give her a pass. Had not all of the outlying factors existed that made me love this book then I probably wouldn't have liked her and thought her a bit too much. Plus there's her being turned on by being nearly brutalized by Eli in the beginning. Weird and a bit contrived. As was some of the dialogue (it sounded just a bit TOO hip) and some phrases got way overused ("a totally guy laugh" was one of them and made me wonder if that's the only laugh guys make in Riley's world).

But I did love Riley, despite all of that. She had her life shit on when she was growing up and had enough brains left to reform herself (thanks, in large part, to her adoptive grandparents). Life rode her like a cowboy for a little while there and she bears the marks of that. But she's surprisingly well-adjusted and deeply committed to her brother. She sacrifices everything she has to save the last remaining blood family she has. And she doesn't do it stupidly. She trains, hard, to be able to do it. She's forced to face her own limitations and while, like all good heroines, she makes some dumb ass judgment calls, thankfully the Dupre family is there to hold strong where Riley falls short. It's not just her brother at stake but a greater threat to the whole city should they not succeed in stamping out this rogue vampire threat.

And did I mention the sexy times? Yes, there are sexy times, RIFE with heinously unattainable orgasm times and vampiric loss of control. The sexy times are good but there's a sinister aspect behind them. No pillow-biting and feather-flying going on here. Eli nearly loses his shit and Victorian wraps his metaphorical hands around Riley's throat by dream-raping her. The juxtaposition of the sexy times is definitely an intriguing aspect of the story, because it's sexy times with a deeper, Freudian meaning behind it. Thinking, I like.

And I liked Eli. He wasn't shy about calling Riley on some of her idiotic moves. Like when he told her to stay put and she didn't. He got all over that. I love it when stuff like that that's overlooked in other books gets almost ragged on in ones I like. I think it was fairly obvious that it was a jab at other heroines not listening to words of advise and not having to deal with their repercussions but Eli's not about to have that. For all his brooding (not Louis-level brooding, or Edward-level, but still a bit of a brooder) he's really solid when it came to calling people out. I squealed a little every time he did it.

Of course I can't forget the Lost Boys reference. That absolutely sealed the deal. Enter rose-colored glasses. Riley could have probably skipped off with Eli in wedded bliss on a rainbow to pink fluffy clouds at the end and I wouldn't have cared. Lost Boys reference. And a favorable one at that. Vampires giving kudos to an epic vampire movie? Yes, please.

So it's not the most well-written book I've ever come across but there's so much love in this story that I just couldn't stop. It's been a long time since I've come across a title that's sucked me in in all the right places that I could just roll around with it and read it over and over again. It just hit the absolutely right spots at absolutely the right time. There's no other way to explain it. The stars aligned, I found AFTERLIGHT and it was love from there on out. EVERDARK, the sequel is already out and EVENTIDE, the third installment, comes out in March so I'll be waiting until then to get those two copies. Seriously, can't wait.

Ban Factor: High - Vampire sex. That should about do it.
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