Infinite Days (Vampire Queen) by Rebecca Maizel
I didn't like it. I might even go so far as to say I hated it. I gave it a fair chance, making it two-thirds of the way through the book despite my increasing disinterest, until I just couldn't take it anymore. It is, and I quote, a "dreadful book."
The general idea of the story -- an age-weary vampire queen returns to mortal life as a teenage girl -- is interesting and drew me into signing up for an ARC of this book. I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, after receiving it, I read the first few chapters and wasn't drawn in. Honestly, had this not been an LibraryThing Early Reviewers book, I would never have picked it back up.
Three things in particular put me off: the lackluster characters, the weak plot, and the tedious writing style. The main character, Lenah, was one of the greater disappointments. She didn't come together as a believable, likable character. Despite the first-person point of view, she was very distant and superficial as a protagonist -- contrived rather than compelling. And her behavior was much more like a vapid, hormonal teenager than the jaded, centuries-old former vampire queen she supposedly was.
The supporting characters were equally unbelievable. The love interest, Justin Enos, I completely didn't get. Other than an outgoing personality and nice looks, he never made much of an impression. Vicken and the other vampires were too melodramatic to bear, and Lenah's classmates were beneath notice. The only characters that held any interest for me were Rhode, who is only truly present for a few pages, and Tony, who is shuffled off out of sight for much of the story. Speaking of, the whole situation with Tony, Lenah, Justin, and Whatsherface was completely botched -- wrapped up into an ultra-convenient, utterly juvenile scenario. Not to mention, the complete nightmare of predictable social stereotypes and literary archetypes. Sadly, I can't say more without invoking spoilers.
As for the plot, I would call it nonexistent. There were two main threads going on: Lenah learning how to be a modern human, and Lenah hiding from her vampire coven. Thread One dominated in a very uneventful manner. Thread Two didn't kick in until the last third or so of the book, and I was long past bored by then. There was no real sense of urgency, no compulsion to keep turning pages.
And on to the writing style ... the entire time I was reading, I felt disconnected from the story. In some parts, it was maudlin and pseudo-profound. In others, superficial. It didn't gel into a cohesive flow of ideas and images. Partly due to disruptive elements that knocked me out of rhythm. For example, Lenah's perspective was of someone completely unfamiliar with the modern world; and yet, the author forgets this time and again, using words and definitions that Lenah shouldn't have known.
But what I really hated was how the whole thing was bogged down by Lenah's memories. It seemed she couldn't turn around and see a maple leaf without slipping into a soap opera-esque memory sequence/trance that completely slowed down the pace of the story. Pair that up with frequent flashback scenes and ... I shudder. Flashbacks -- a horrid and transparent convention that gives writers an easy way out of character development. And don't get me started on the phrase, "as a vampire" ... "As a vampire, I did this ... As a vampire, I used to think that ... As a vampire, I once ... " Gah. We get the point.