Monday, December 17, 2012

Chosen by Barbara Ellen Brink

Title: Amish Bloodsuckers: Chosen 
Author: Barbara Ellen Brink
Published: October 1, 2012 independently 
Genre: Action/Adventure, YA Paranormal
Reviewer: Hannah

Synopsis:

Jael is a normal teenage girl. Going to school, studying, and of course, hanging out with her best friend.

At least, that's what she used to think. That was before she discovered that she's the Chosen One: specifically selected by fate to slay vampires and protect her town. 

Review: 

Let's get this show on the road! All right, so we have your average teenage girl; slightly rebellious, crushing on the high school jock, drinking gallons of Coke, and eye-rolling at the dorky things her dad says. Pretty normal, right? Except it's not. Dun dun dun dunnnnnn.....see, Jael never really took much notice before, but the clothes that her parents get her: they're pretty plain. They don't really have a whole lot of updated technology around the house--or any at all, as a matter of fact. They keep Jael secluded from others out in the middle of nowhere, and isolated from events and school dances and sleepovers and such. And don't even mention the dating topic.

What does it all mean? Is she being held captive in some sort of cult? Does she have some sort of mental disability and her parents are protecting her from the big bad world? Are her parents evil cannibalistic serial killers planning to chop her up and eat her?

Nope. She's Amish. She's been Amish her whole life.....Without. Even. Knowing. It. How does that work? Before I progress with the storyline, I want to make a point about the "Amish" aspect of the book. Personally, I don't think it was incorporated very well. Jael is Amish, but she attends regular school (where there are undoubtedly computers with access to the Internet, not to mention water fountains, phones, electricity, and other such modern comforts that the Amish abstain from), often hitches rides in her friend's car or her parents' car, has a cell phone, has a refrigerator in her home, the list goes on. 

It was stated at one point that Jael's parents had packed up and left their Amish community when she was ten, to escape vampires. Does this mean that they also abandoned their Amish lifestyle? Jael's parents say no, but the facts say otherwise. 

Additionally, why are the "bloodsuckers" Amish? Did they inject themselves into the Amish community because they believe them to be easy prey? Is the technology of the modern world too confusing for their ancient immortal selves? Or is it just this particular colony of vampires that happens to be Amish? I don't know how the whole Amish thing plays into the grand scheme of things! My tiny noggin can only handle so much discombobulation. And then I just get stupid and start drooling. 

Enough about that though. In about maybe chapter two(?), Jael gets into an argument with her parents about hanging out with her friends (because they keep her at home all the time), and then the truth comes out about her heritage as a kickass killing machine.

I felt that this part of the story--the beginning--was much too rushed. I mean, the story begins, and barely has time to make a place for itself before BAM! Jael: you're a vampire slayer. Here's a stake. Go kill something. Not enough time was spent establishing Jael as a character before the big revelation comes around and knocks her on her butt.

And not to mention: her parents. Oh, I could go on for days about how stupid they are. I'm sorry, I just have to get this out of my system. So, to "protect" her, Jael's parents basically lock her up in the house, save for schooling and vampire slaying. They keep her in the dark about her true identity as a slayer until just a few months before her sixteenth birthday. And even after that, they don't tell her anything else without Jael prying their teeth out for the information. Holy falafels, it is Basic. Parenting. Logic: The tighter you constrict your child with rules, the more rebellious they will become. If you have no rules at all, what is there to rebel against? Nothing. 

Now, I know that she's supposed to be incredibly sheltered, to contribute to her naivety and all...but ugh! 

Okay, moving on. So after her epiphany of epic proportions, she goes on for several months to train 3 hours a day to perfect her kill technique (picture Giles and Buffy). Of course, she can't reveal her nightly activities to her best friend Brianna, so she has to keep everything hush-hush. 

And then Shadow comes in. He's supposed to be a bad boy type character, but really he just wears lots of leather and hangs out in the back of  other people's cars. He gets "officially" added into the mix when he helps Jael and Brianna avoid getting drugged and raped by a bunch of horny teenage guys (<--completely separate from the whole Amish vampire slaying gig). We discover that Shadow is actually a "tracker." A tracker, if I understand correctly, is someone who can smell slayers and talk to wolves (I have a feeling the whole "wolves" thing will come up later in the series).

He helps Jael out a lot in her ceaseless war against the Bishop and his army of Amish vampires. The Bishop? Well, in Amish communities, a Bishop is a religious leader. Here? I don't know. Leader of the vampires is what I deduce; but mannnn, how did this Amish town get so vampire-infested?

So, things progress; when Jael and her parents believe themselves to be under threat of attack from vampires, they pack up and get the hell outta Dodge. Then they come back when Shadow gives the all-clear. A bunch of other vampire-related stuff. 

I'm not going to give spoilers about the climax, in case you actually want to read Chosen. That said, I believe here is where the breakdown endeth. 

The humor depicted in Chosen was a tad too juvenile for my taste. But then, everyone is different, and you never know, you may find it amusing if you decide to read it. I will admit, at one point I found myself getting into the story for the "adolescent adventure" feel it gave off at times. It's every kid's dream to go off and have an adventure, isn't it?:)

Another thing I noted, and you knew that this was gonna pop up eventually: the similarities between Chosen and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes. I said it. Someone had to. I mean, c'mon: a teenage girl chosen by fate to slay vampires and protect the humans? Spends hours everyday training with her superhuman abilities? She even had an out-of-body experience where she briefly lived in a moment in the life of the original, Biblical Jael. Hey, I'm all for drawing inspiration from Buffy. Pretty much everything in the world is created using a mixture of various sources. But, in this case, it's a little bit too similar for me to be comfortable with.  

I didn't particularly like Chosen, but I can't help but wonder if it's my apathy towards vampire books in general that's hindering my liking for the book? I don't know. Maybe another blogger will read Chosen and absolutely gush about it in their review. I'm reading less and less popular YA these days, so I'm not sure if this is something that teenagers will like. (<--I'm 14; I really shouldn't be saying that).

Guess you'll have to read it and find out for yourself, won't you?

-Hannah

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