Book Review: The Opposite of Life

I remember screaming very loudly. In TV shows, that’s where the ad break comes in, while some ninny is screaming her head off. No ad breaks in life, though.

Lissa Wilson has seen more than enough death in her family, so when people start being savagely killed whenever she has a night out in Melbourne with her beautiful new boyfriend, she’s determined to investigate and make the killing stop. Even when she realises the murders must be the work of a vampire.

Things had been looking up for this librarian and 21st century geekgirl, but the murders make her remember why she prefers books to people. People leave you. People can die.

She finds herself teaming up with the painfully awkward Gary to get to the undead heart of the matter. But there are more challenges in story than Gary’s appalling fashion sense.

The idea of living forever can be a big temptation for someone who has lost so much…

 

I keep saying, “No more vampire books!” I know. But then I come across something interesting, and my protestations go out the window. And, in all fairness, vampire books seem to be everywhere I look.

I brought home The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M. Harris and the first thing my husband said on looking at it was, “Vampires in Melbourne? Sounds lame.”

My first reaction was to be annoyed. I mean, sure, over here in Futureland (ie. Australia) and raised to believe everything in the US of A is bigger, better, and cooler. But just because this book is set in Melbourne shouldn’t mean it’s instantly classified as lame! My second reaction was to feel guilty, because I’d thought exactly the same thing. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I brought the book home with me. (Yes, I’m inspired to read by self-inflicted guilt. Don’t make a big deal of it.)

To be honest, that blurb doesn’t really appeal to me. But the first page did.

The night I went dancing with Evie I found two girls on the floor of the ladies’ loos, with their throats ripped out.

At first I figured it was pretty typical, you know? Just the kind of thing that would happen to me on my first night out in eight months. Get dumped, mope a lot, go out to cheer myself up and, of course, dead bodies in the ladies’ loos. Later on I thought it might have been me bringing everyone bad luck, before I found out what was really going on.

But that night it was just my own sheer crappy timing. Yeah, right, like it’s all about me.

Lissa (short for Melissa) is very much a product of the modern-day. She’s fairly self-absorbed, thinks everything is about her, and her mind jumps from cultural reference to cultural reference. But, for all that, she’s really quite likeable. She’s had a tough upbringing, and that’s evident in almost everything she says and does, but she loves her family and friends, and genuinely cares about people.

The book starts with her finding two dead women on the bathroom floor at a club. Their throats have been ripped out, and there’s blood everywhere. To say she’s shocked is something of an understatement. She goes home to recover, and probably would have gone back to her normally scheduled life, but… it keeps happening. She keeps finding dead bodies. Like any vaguely self-absorbed young woman, she immediately assumes it has something to do with her, and sets out to investigate.

And that leads us to the vampires.

These are not sparkly, emo, mary-sue vampires. Nor are they mindless, monster-movie vampires. I’d say they’re a cross between Dracula and World of Darkness. They don’t burst into flames in the sunlight, although it makes them weak (ala Dracula). They’ve got a vague “vampire society” going on (ala WoD). But there’s really nothing sexy, sultry, or appealing about them. They are, in fact, the very personification of “the opposite of life”.

This is a book about an ordinary, people-shy girl investigating a supernatural serial killer. It’s also a book about life, death, and the way people respond to it. I really enjoyed this book.

If you like your vampires red-hot and sexy, this is not a book for you. But if you’d like an entertaining and, at times, philosophical story about death, loss, hope, and revenge, I’d heartily recommend it.

(Oh, and it’s set in Melbourne. If you’ve been, you’ll recognise everything from the late-night Greek takeaway to the tram lines. If you haven’t, you’ll feel like you have. It’s win/win. And not lame in the slightest.)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Book Review: The Opposite of Life

  1. Nice review… you have peek my interest, and with a vampire story–that is hard to do.

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