Pauley–previously known for her own book review site–has created a very interesting premise here: Mina Hamilton is having a hard enough time with high school and being seventeen in general when things get even more complicated. Mina already knew her parents were vampires. She has, in fact, known that for all of her life. What she didn't know until recently was that she would have to decide if she wanted to join her parents among the undead or not. Mina also has to attend a series of vampire classes to help in her decision-making process. The entire idea is fascinating. Even the chatty, notebook style blurb for the book helps to draw readers in to this funny story. Mina is also, in many ways, a very real character–aside from the whole vampiric parents side of things, of course.
Any yet . . .
She is also possibly one of the most shallow characters I have ever encountered. At the beginning of the novel Mina is so busy lusting after her cute classmate Nathan as to be entirely oblivious to the true object of his affection. Matters only worsen when Mina starts her vampire classes and meets the even better looking Aubrey. At this point in the plot Mina has so many stars in her eyes that she once again misses the completely, painfully obvious fact that Aubrey's interest in her comes from motivations that are anything but romantic.
Sucks to Be Me features a popular vampire myth (and the vampire reality care of Mina) at the beginning of each chapter. Pauley had the potential here to create an entirely new set of vampire lore here. Instead the writing about the ins and outs of vampirism was remiss. Most of the new vampire facts (they can go out in the sun, they can eat food) are left unexplained either because Mina does not know the answer or because she tuned out while someone else was explaining it. While world building is more traditionally associated with sci-fi novels, it feels negligent to base a novel on so many facts while explaining none of them.
Pauley's inclusion of instant messages written in chatspeak was equally frustrating. I don't text message and I write instant messages in full sentences. I know that is not true for most people. But I feel certain that having lines like "& he jetted prtty fast outta there. didn't evn drnk the coffee" does little to add to the novel's authenticity or tone.
This book reminded me a lot of ghostgirl, another book with a promising plot whose writing fell short of expectations. It will also likely appeal to Twilight fans looking for a funny vampire story. For my part, I was excited about Sucks to Be Me when I first saw it, but by the end my enthusiasm was lukewarm at best.
Possible Pairings: Ghost Huntress by Marley Gibson, Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (television series)
So, you think your life sucks? Try being Mina Hamilton. Her parents are vampires, which would sound cool if they weren't so bo-ring and parent-like. And now Mina has to decide whether or not she wants to be one too...in a month. As if high school wasn't bad enough, now she's got to go to vampire classes with a bunch of freaks who actually want to drink blood (Gross! As if sushi wasn't bad enough.). And she can't even tell her best friend about any of it, not with a bunch of red-tape-loving vampire … more
Mina Hamilton has always known about her parents' unusual position as vampires, but it never occurs to her that she might have to become a vampire herself until the Northwest Regional Vampire Council gets wind of her existence and insists that she make a choice. But how can a girl choose between a great life in the human world with a best friends and an almost boyfriend, and her family and the allure of living forever (although, the idea of drinking blood is just gross). Well, Mina's about to find … more
At the end of Mina Hamilton's junior year in high school, she is faced with the biggest decision of her life: whether or not to become a vampire. To make it worse, the only guidance she has comes from her slightly crazy uncle Mortie and a vampire class taught by good old Grandma Wolfington (okay, her real name is Ms. Riley) that Mina is forced to take. And just because she is named after a character from Bram Stoker's Dracula doesn't make this enormous decision any easier. This … more
Most high-school juniors face big questions about their futures, but few ask the question posed to 16-year-old Mina: should she stay human or should she become a vampire, like her parents? In this breezy, often uproarious debut novel, Pauley follows Mina through her decision-making process, which includes classes about vampire history and culture and field trips with her eccentric uncle Mortie, the first vampire in the family. The juxtaposition between Mina’s normal, human high-school existence and “vampire camp” creates hilarious contrasts, all narrated in Mina’s wisecracking, authentic teen voice. Mina’s frequent lists, such as “Why It Sucks to Have Parents Who Are Vampires” and IM exchanges between Mina and her best friend, add to the pitch-perfect humor. A chirpy cheerleader considering the vampire life and a cast of handsome romantic prospects round out the appealing supporting cast. Readers will race through this lighthearted debut, filled with vampire lore, to discover Mina’s final decision, and they might recognize Mina’s larger struggle to move between very different cultural worlds. Grades 7-10. --Gillian Engberg