Picked up Saltwater Vampires after falling in love with Eagar’s Raw Blue. For me, this one was not in the same league. But there were lots of things I enjoyed and appreciated about it.
Saltwater Vampires is like a weird mesh of old-world type vampires invading the very contemporary Rocky Head music-festival scene – an old-school sensibility meets a young, hip awareness complete with all the typical modern teen emotions. For me, it wasn’t quite a perfect match, and that was my main problem with the book. I appreciated it, but I didn’t really get it. I felt there was perhaps a little too much going on. The way the three distinct story overtones overlapped was all a little too complicated, with the different stories becoming distractions from the other stories to the point where I couldn’t really commit to any of them.
I liked the ‘contemporary YA’ overtone the best, and this is what I think Eagar excels at. Jamie and his gang of friends and vamp-busters are all funny and likeable and totally cool and all the rest, and their interactions are true to life and affectionately written. I liked where Eagar was taking their emotional stories, but the nature of the book – with all it’s time-jumping and shifting perspectives and what-not – means I never really got involved, like I did with Carly in Raw Blue.
This is a book all unto its own genre – it’s not a conventional vamp story, especially as we’ve come to know them from YA, and it’s not quite contemporary Aussie YA-lit. I do feel that with everything that was going on, it was more suited to an adult readership. Of course I’m all for YA pushing conventions, but I felt the plot, pacing, stories, scope, etc, would just be a better fit for ‘adult fiction’. But I did enjoy its novelty, and also the fact that these vamps were ugly and nasty – something to be scared of, disgusted by, instead of romanticised and smitten by. The whole book had a good grittiness to it.
Aussie setting is used well – the beach, the coastal town, the music festival – in a way that’s familiar but then, as Eagar works her word magic, into something strange and atmospheric and full of the unknown. Particularly the night-surfing scene and when Jamie’s bike breaks down in the national park – fantastic stuff.
I enjoyed the final big ‘showdown’ scene at the end – it provides a nice pay-off, gives the whole book a sense of urgency, and is fun to read. I found the final ‘dealing with the vamps’ (at the festival) a bit weird but that’s a minor quibble – I guess I’m just used to vamps crumbling to dust or something.
Also, a teeny bit long. Weird and wonderful and well-written but not quite perfect –kept me entertained, but just a little too much going on.