Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Paranormal YA
Pages: Paperback, 288pp
(Received for review from NAL)
Excerpt from Almost Final Curtain
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
Ever since high school student Anastasija Parker discovered she was vampire royalty, her life has been sort of crazy. The half vampire/half witch just wants some normalcy, and trying out for the spring musical seems like the perfect fix. But things are a little different this year since Nikolai Kirov - vampire hunter in training and Ana's sometimes boyfriend - and his rock band are lending the musical a harder edge.
But in between worrying about tryouts and her uncertain status with a boyfriend who's learning the best way to killer her, Ana has even bigger problems: The magical ancient talisman that stands between vampire freedom and slavery to witches has been stolen from the Minnesota Historical Society. Now Ana has to track down the dangerous talisman before someone uses it to make this year's curtain call her last.
Tate Hallaway once again is setting the YA world on edge, with her latest book in the Vampire Princess series, Almost Final Curtain. With a new take on the vampire myth and some stunning characters, Hallaway will have readers under her spell in no time. It's a combination of Twilight and Charmed all rolled into one! A great new series by a author who bears watching.
Ana Parker is up to her ears in preparations for the school play, an updated rendition of My Fair Lady. Since Ana found out she was half vampire and half witch, her life has gone from black and white to gray as she struggles between both sides of her nature. To make things even more difficult she is betrothed to a one vampire warrior, while her current boyfriend spends his time trying to hone his vampire killing skills as a vampire hunter. When an ancient talisman capable of enslaving vampires to witches once again surfaces, Ana is forced to take a side in order to survive.
There are so many cool things about this book. There are aspects of it that really worked for the author and some parts that were a little harder to pitch. Overall I thought it was a great book and a very good follow up to the first book in the series, Almost to Die For. Readers will enjoy picking up the story from where left, Ana, Nickolai, Bea, Elias and the others.
Hallaway's ability to create characters that would resonate with the YA audience is remarkable. The characters are three-dimensional and very complex which gives the author a lot to work with. Ana is your typical teenager with all the worries and anxieties of youth but she has a lot more going down in her world. In Almost Final Curtain, Ana really struggles with who she is. Trying to find her place in the world. She has been raised to believe that things are a certain way and then she comes to find out that maybe things are quite different than what she thought. She finds herself embracing her vampire side in spite of herself. I liked the way the author seemed to have Ana come to a certain peace toward the end of the book realizing that she is both witch and vampire and that that is what sets her apart and makes her this unique and special person.
I very much enjoyed the sort of Romeo and Juliet idea behind the relationship of Ana and Nikolai. Here you have two star-crossed lovers if you will. Two kids that care about each other a lot, but can't seem to make it work because of their differences. She's part vampire and he's a vampire hunter. She is everything he is supposed to hate, yet he is drawn to her. There was a very Shakespearean vibe going on this book that readers will pick up on and I think they will like it a lot.
The idea of doing and updated and revamped version of My Fair Lady also really floated my boat as a reader. I liked the way the author was able to show the theatre as something "cool" and something that kids would want to be a part of. Remaking Thompson into a character that readers would come to like was a great idea as well. The preppy football player who was Ana's nemesis from the first book shows a very different side as he auditions for the role of Professor Higgins. Hallaway also allowed the process of casting the play and the music to pull the book together and give it a cohesiveness.
I did have a couple of problems with the book, but clearly the good outweighs the not so good. I thought the ending seemed a little rushed. The beginning of the book sets up a very comfortable pace that allows the reader to really get to know the characters and understand why they choose to do things the way they do. But toward the end, in I would say the last four or five chapters, it became like a bit of a rush to the finish line. I would have preferred to keep that same comfortable pace all the way through.
My other little quirk about the book has nothing to do with the authors ability to write. Hallaway has clearly proven that she is a force to be reckoned with in Paranormal YA fiction. This is just a personal thing and isn't a criticism at all. The fact that Ana's father turned on her was hard for me to accept. In the first book it seemed like he was interested in a relationship with Ana, but in this one he seems to wish he didn't have to bother with her. She clearly does not fit into his plans. But the scene were he banishes her and then later completely turns on her and her mother made me feel very uncomfortable. But as I have always said, if an author can make you feel a strong emotion not matter what it is as you read their work, they have truly accomplished something great. And this book really did that for me. Even though the emotion wasn't the one I expected.
I can't wait to see what happens next in this series! I recommend this book to all of my YA readers. Though it is the second in a series it can easily be read as a stand alone. Paranormal readers whether you prefer adult or YA will want to give this series a look. The characters are just wonderfully developed and Hallaway's take on vampires in general is refreshing and different.
Almost Final Curtain is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Tate Hallaway lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the author of the Garnet Lacey novels.