February 18, 2011

Book Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

Publisher: Free Press (December 28, 2010)
Hardcover: 384 Pages
Genre: YA Fantasy (Vampires)
From Goodreads. Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.

One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.

Review by Kate
THE RADLEYS, by Matt Haig, paves its own road in the vampire genre. The Radley's are a family of vampires who choose to abstain from human blood in an attempt to fit in better with humans. But when the Radley children discover their supernatural lineage, this family questions their role in society.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved each and every character. The structure of the book was unique in that many POVs were explored to get a wider scope on this character-driven plot. When Clara Radley kills unexpectedly, she creates a ripple effect all around her. This brings in the police (where in this universe Radley created, knows about vampires but kept very hush hush), friends of the victim, and a banished Radley family member who shares a dark past with Helen Radley.

The family dynamic in this book was not unlike a human family having issues, but the supernatural aspect added to the tension. Peter and Helen's marriage had been failing for a long time and the strain of abstaining added to the strain. Clara and Rowan were unpopular in school and being enlightened to their genetics did not help one bit. And for as much as I felt I was supposed to hate Will, he was my favorite character. He reminded me of the 'cool uncle' type and I anticipated when his cockiness would get him into serious trouble.

I liked Haig's 'take' on vampires. The lore surrounding how they are changed and how they react to blood was interesting and unique. Another thing I appreciated was the setting and feel of the UK. The sarcasm and tone that is prevalent in UK novels was definitely present and added to my love for this book. Overall, it was a great story and definitely should be on a TBR list of anyone who is a fan of vampires and wants a new perspective.

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