Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Review: The Society of S by Susan Hubbard
Ariella Montero is a sweet, sensitive 13-year-old girl from Saratoga Springs. Unbeknownst to her, she is also a vampire. Raised by her widowed father, Ari is told she has a weak immune system and should stay away from crowds. When she learns that her father is also a vampire and that her mother may not be dead at all, she embarks on a journey to discover the truth about herself and her family.
Written in first person narrative from Ariella's point of view, mostly in retrospect and diary format, starting as 13 year old with a HUGE dark family secret. Not only is the story told from her point of view but she takes on the persona of a third person narrator at times, giving insight into other peoples thoughts and feelings. It is sometimes difficult to understand this correctly as you constantly have to remember that she is only interpreting other peoples actions based on her own rather than having direct insight into their minds. I really enjoyed the way in which Ariella directly addresses the reader, it added a sense of involvement in the plot.
The book is split into 3 different sections relating to the different phases of the story. The 1st part shows Ariella as a child, sheltered from the real world by her father. This was my favourite part, the start was dramatic and full of tension. The descriptions were deliciously sensory. The vocabulary is lovely and gives me the satisfaction of gaining knowledge via osmosis :) The plot unravels slowly like a loose thread you pull that keeps unravelling until you are able to snap it off. Intriguing plot teasers dropped throughout the narrative.
The second part deals with Ariella's journey to find her mother and her developing awareness of different aspects of her personality. I couldn't fully grasp the changes in Ariella in this section and her actions didn't quite seem to fit with the picture I had already built up of her from the 1st section. I had to keep reminding myself that she is only supposed to be 13 at this point and couldn't quite weigh up her interactions and emotions with someone of that age. I adored the Poe quotes and the terrific literary analysis of Poe given within the narrative. Especially the use of italics to draw the readers eye to specific parts of the plot. I have always wanted to read Poe but am a bit concerned that it will frighten me, being of the squeamish variety and having a technicolor imagination :) There are also some very intriguing religious references adding another element to the story, all thoroughly researched and well developed points.
The last section finds Ariella reunited with her mother. Bringing back the Ariella I had imagined in the 1st section. In some respects she appears older and wiser than her years and at others, she appears younger and more naive, probably a conflict that occurs to anyone at that age. A little bit of the nature versus nurture debate comes into force as we are left to wonder what sort of person Ariella would be if she had lived with her mother during her childhood. The changes within Ariella during each section gives the book a different feel, like 3 different stories unfolding to a single conclusion. I particularly liked the imagery used to describe the gardens and animals in this section, it really brought it to life for me. Some major plot twists occur at the end; we are left with resolution to some aspects and a big mystery to others. There is a particular description of a man, I think we can assume is evil, that I found chilling.
On the whole, I am a bit torn with this one, I liked the general storyline but couldn't fully relate the story to a 13 year old. I think I am still going to have to read the next book just to find out if the mystery is solved :)