A couple of you may have read my review for The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti a while back. Actually, most of probably haven't, but in that review and this one, some similarities can be noted. In both, you would expect a completely different rating at the end. In both, I complain, the turn around with a whole new take on the novel at hand. Prepare yourselves for a fickle review.
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Quincie Morris (in the words of Libba Bray) is a heroine in cowboy boots, living in Austin, Texas with her Uncle D after her parents' death. Life here can prove difficult and trying for Quincie. Her hybrid-werewolf best friend, Kieren, could possibly be leaving her. The chef at her family's restaurant is brutally murdered while she's in the next room. Her uncle is dating a horrendous vampire-wannabe named Ruby. And, on top of that, people are continuously going missing around Austin--and the ones that turn up have been attacked a killed.
As Quincie tries to get Sanguini's (the only restaurant in Austin centered around a vampire theme) ready for opening night, her suspicions, as well as those of the rest of the city, sway here and there. She can't help but think it was Kieren, who found Vaggio, the murdered chef, dead and was covered in his blood. But Kieren feels otherwise. He thinks it was a vampire or vampires that tried to make it appear to be done by Wolves. Quincie has no idea what to believe and puts it out of her mind as she tries to transform the new chef, Henry Johnson, in the the Vampire Chef she needs to present on opening night.
When I first opened Tantalize, I was instantly worried. The font was just that huge. And, before I go any further, I should probably stop and explain. I, as well as Caroline, feel that large font is patronizing, condescending, and annoying. When I open a book and the font is large, I'm instantly on my guard, preparing for the worst. Needless to say, that was my first issue: the font was huge.
But then, I started reading, and the font became background, hidden beneath other, worse things. For starters, it was a tad confusing. There were tidbits of information with little to no explanation. There was no background story. There was nothing to support the present, the start of it all I assume, since apparently there was no past. There were inside jokes with no story, things I didn't and couldn't get. Complaint 2.
My third and final complaint, is that everyone seems to be something. No one is a nice, enchanting, entertaining character. Everyone has a crucial role. And those who are minor characters are included in the mythology. Small characters are were-people, a completely redundant phrase that literally translates into man-people, but is used to refer to any person that can transform themselves into a specific animal. There are, of course, the werewolves, but then you also have the werecats, the wereopossums, the werearmodillos, the (possibly nonexistent) weregators, the werevultures, and whatever other were___ you can think of. There are so many of these.
But, not matter how much I gripe and complain about his book, in the end, there's only one conclusion. I can only make one opinion. I really, really enjoyed Tantalize. It was fantastic. Cynthia Leitich Smith created an astounding plot line that, at some moments, was predictable, but at others exciting and interesting. She developed believable characters that could exist in real life as ordinary humans, not vampires and werepeople. I don't know how to express my favorite parts of this book without first quoting Libba Bray to help me along: "Looking for something to read that will make your TV jealous? Tantalize has it all--hot vampires and wolf-boys, a super-cool heroine in cowboy boots, nail-biting suspense, romance, chills 'n' thrills, and Austin, Texas. What more could you want?"
My answer? Nothing.
Tantalize even made me think. Because there were so many little things that were a tad irritating, I had to wonder if I like it or not. Turns out I loved it, only deducting one cup of coffee for my three complaints.
4 out of 5 cups of coffee for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize.
Waiting for the second installment to come out already, loving the perfect ending to the first, and moving on to the rest of my books waiting to be reviewed,