The Season of Risks
Published 2010 286 pages
My name is Ariella Montero, and I know a secret. Telling it will change everything.
Half-human and half-vampire, Ari confronts the darker sides of vampirism, and herself, as the sects deploy new technologies to battle for influence and power.
But beyond these challenges lie greater risks: Ari’s relationship with Neil Cameron, the first vampire to run for the U.S. presidency, must be kept under wraps from even those she trusts most. When scandal inevitably erupts, Ari is forced to face the consequences of her actions, learning the hard way that love demands delicate negotiations between memory and desire.
The Season of Risks is the third book by Susan Hubbard in her Ethical Vampires series. Aimed primarily at the Young Adult market the Ethical Vampire books follow the coming-of-age of Ari Montero, a teenaged half-vampire, half-human girl who is discovers her vampire heritage and has to learn how to fit into the human world.
Ari’s journey of vampiric discovery started when she was thirteen years-old. In The Season of Risks Ari is now fifteen but questions such as how old is she really and when will she be physically grown-up thread their way throughout the novel. Ari’s age is something of a fluid concept; she has an educated vampire mind which makes her seem mature but she lacks life experience so her innocence makes her seem younger. Physically is she thirteen, the age when she made her transformation to vampire? Or fifteen, her chronological age? Or nineteen, the age she pretends to be? Or is she some other age that she herself can define?
To further complicate matters the vampires have medications that can alter their ages by desired amounts. If she takes the medication to age seven years what age will she be then – physically and/or mentally? By the end of the novel this reader was still none the wiser to any of the answers to questions about Ari’s age. But then neither is Ari – so I wasn’t alone in my confusion.
Why is age such a hot topic for this novel? Well, Ari wants to have a relationship with a much older vampire but his public position and age in the human world means that she can’t be younger than twenty two. With young-girl-meets-older-man subject matter there is always a danger that the plot line can slip into sensationalism and appear sleazy but the whole episode is handled sensitively, keeping the book sleaze free.
Once again, Hubbard eschews the usual teen vampire fiction fare by keeping the vampire and fantasy elements of the story low-key and she uses character driven narrative to drive the story forward rather than fantasy action. While I did shiver in horror at the descriptions of the behind the scenes machinations at NetFriend (a popular social networking website along the lines of Facebook and MySpace) I’m not sure that my slightly paranoid fear of social media would count as true horror for most readers.
The Season of Risks features vampires but it is not really a horror story, nor is it urban fantasy or paranormal romance. The lack of an obvious genre for the story will probably mean that this book won’t appeal to hard-core fantasy fans or romance readers but series fans shouldn’t be disappointed with this latest instalment of the Ethical Vampires. Like previous series offerings this story raises more questions than it answers and with its stronger conspiracy plotline, as yet still unsolved, seems to be laying the ground for future Ethical Vampire books.
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