Blood Orange Soda by James Michael Larranaga

Blood Orange Soda by James Michael Larranaga

Publication: February 20th 2014 by JML

Format: eARC, 257 pages

Source: Received from publisher

Genres: Young Adult, Vampires

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Darius Hunter lives in a world where vampires live among normal humans. Young vampires like Darius are kept on a government-mandated medication that prevents them from becoming fully undead until they’re 18. He’s smart, sensitive and all-too human—a struggling outsider who’s just trying to fit in, find a girlfriend and escape the attention of football bully Bao Wang. 

It’s his humanity that often keeps him from his hopes and dreams, so Darius’ “cool uncle” Jack, a vampire, introduces him to a substance called Blood Orange Soda. This strange analog of steroids can speed Darius’ maturation into his full vampire state, but it can’t guarantee that he’ll avoid disrupting the lives of his mother and sister, win the love of Angel Martin or successfully face up to Bao. It also doesn’t make him immune to heartbreak and loss. 

The author takes familiar themes of YA fiction—vampires and teen romance—and treats them with a surprising empathy and respect that gives them real weight.

Let me start off this review by saying this book has one of the most interesting and unique plot lines ever written.

Blood Orange Soda gives a whole new bloody perspective to vampires. Our narrator, Darius Hunter, is not fully undead. Instead he’s on the Reds — a government-administered pill that prevents pre-vampires like Darius to fully transform into Dracula. The medication also blocks their increasingly growing blood lust. If you want to get a pint of blood, you’d have to avail from a blood bank — which is, by the way, appropriately named.

The novel takes a jab at the stereotypical; labelling characters as Goths or Normals and even Batman which is genius by the way. There are some instances though that I found those labels as discriminate and rude. Either way, it wasn’t a big deal for me anyway.

Darius Hunter is in that stage in life where Asian quarterbacks bully/harass you publicly, the beautiful girl starts flirting with you (ehem), and you can hardly stay in the same room with your younger sibling. In short, he’s starting his first year of high school. His reaction to everything is highly amusing. There was this one scene where he flipped the bird to his bullies and it was caught on camera and it eventually spread on Facebook. Instead of plotting sweet revenge to whoever shared that photo, he used it to his advantage. He made it his profile picture and reading that entire passage was just entertaining.

He’s also very straightforward and has few hesitations or complaints. I really liked his relationship with his friends especially with Weezer — also a pre-vampire. They both remind me of Colin and Hassan’s friendship from An Abundance of Katherines. There are some parallels between Weezer and Hassan. Both have comical traits and are inexplicably intelligent. But Weezer is a closet drama king. He can actually be serious and contemplative.

As for the writing, it was kind of like reading a teenager’s diary. Very youthful and honest.

I gave this four stars because of the plot pacing. If it weren’t so slow, I had probably given it a perfect five-star rating. But overall, I really enjoyed this read. I’m cutting the review short because I don’t want to spoil the broth for you. There are so many great things happening in this novel, and I want you to read and enjoy it for yourself.

I highly recommend this if you want to read something different. I also think this novel would appeal to John Green fans.

Some quotes/passages that I want to share with you to pique your interest:

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

I’m high on life.

How about a little less self-confidence and a little more self-loathing?

4 stars

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