Night Road
  • Night Road
  • Night Road

Night Road

4.8 12
by A. M. Jenkins

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For a heme like Cole, life is a tightrope existence in which sunlight is his deadly enemy and one mistake could trap him underground, staring at the inside of a coffin lid, for eternity. After a century of wandering he may still look like a teenager, but he's known in the heme community for being observant, meticulous, and controlled—a master of life on the

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For a heme like Cole, life is a tightrope existence in which sunlight is his deadly enemy and one mistake could trap him underground, staring at the inside of a coffin lid, for eternity. After a century of wandering he may still look like a teenager, but he's known in the heme community for being observant, meticulous, and controlled—a master of life on the road.

When Cole is asked to take a newly created heme out for training, however, his usual caution may not be enough. If Gordon, the rookie who really is in his teens, can't cut ties with his old life and accept his new limitations, Cole will have to discreetly dispose of the kid—the same way a mad dog would be put down for the safety of society.

Cole thinks he can handle it. But no matter how carefully he plans, or how much he thinks he's in control, accidents still happen. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Trading demonic possession for vampirism, Jenkins (Repossessed) explores the existential crises of a clan of "hemovores," or "hemes." In her world, hemes feed on humans or "omnis" (short for omnivores), but do so with restraint-regular, controlled feedings prevent their animal "Thirst" from taking over. Cole and a bighearted heme, Sandor, embark on a road trip to train Gordon, a naïve, college-age "accident" who has recently joined their ranks, and help him adjust to his current state. Cole displays monk-like self-discipline and denial as he models the lonely, endless nightlife of the heme for Gordon. ("You're a parasite, not a predator," scolds Cole when Gordon realizes he could take advantage of his victim's entranced state during a feeding. "Our lives are built on their backs, and we owe them civility at least.") As they travel, the hemes debate their ability to die, whether they possess souls and the futility of dating; the appearance of a rogue heme provides dramatic tension. Save a few minor female hemes, Jenkins's world is male-dominated, which may turn off some readers (Cole describes subservient omni groupies as "young people who read too much Anne Rice"). But overall, Jenkins provides a page-turner and a fresh, intriguing view of the vampiric "life." Ages 12-up. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
They call themselves hemevores, not vampires, and try not to draw attention to themselves—who knows what the people (the "omnivores") they feed on might do if they found out about the bloodsuckers in their midst? Cole is a heme, a loner who appears to be 18 but who is actually hundreds of years old. He keeps tight control over himself at all times, ever since he fell in love with an omni named Bess and turned her into a heme without her consent. Bess was so distraught that she tried to commit suicide—but hemes can't really die, it seems. She lives on, though her body is mangled and her mind is gone, and Cole still lives with his guilt. When Cole is asked to mentor a clueless new teenaged heme named Gordon and teach him the survival skills he'll need, he reluctantly takes on the difficult task, aided by his heme friend Sandor. They show Gordon how to feed from humans without being caught, how to hide from the sun, and more, but when they encounter a stray heme with murder in his heart, even Cole isn't prepared. This horror story is also a coming-of-age tale, as Cole finally realizes the debt he owes his friends and the extent of his feelings toward Bess, and steels himself to see her. Jenkins, author of YA novels such as Damage and Possessed, does a masterful job presenting Cole's world and the conflicts he feels in this dark take on the vampire genre. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
They are not animals. Cole, Johnny, and Mina are human, disciplined, sensitive, and compassionate. They just happen to need to drink blood to survive. At the Colony, a safe haven for hemovores, blood is readily available, all but eliminating "Thirst," the archetypical predatory vampire behavior. The Colony's regulated system works well, but accidents still happen, especially when "hemes" leave the Colony. When one such accident occurs, Missouri frat-boy Gordon is unwillingly inducted into the ranks of heme. Now it is up to Cole and Sandor, centuries-old hemes trapped in teenagers' bodies, to train Gordon in the ways of the Colony, where hemes are taught to live resourcefully among the general population. Gordon's education begins on the road, moving only at night as he relearns what it means to live. Fans of vampire fiction might enjoy Jenkins's revision of popular vampire legend, but fans of her novel Repossessed (HarperTempest, 2007/VOYA August 2007) will likely be less impressed. Although Jenkins endeavors to add humanity to the traditionally inhuman in both novels, where Repossessed is quick and quirky, this book is plodding and dark. The philosophical angst that comes with facing eternal life essentially as a parasite is interesting to consider, and Jenkins does well to explore these concerns. But the struggle of centuries-old Cole and not that of the only true teen character, Gordon, is at the core of the novel. In fact, Gordon is only a minor player in the novel, merely the subject of endless lectures from Cole. This flaw might limit the novel's appeal to young readers. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Cole was made into a vampire, or heme, more than a hundred years ago. Because he has been around so long, he is asked to take new heme Gordo under his wing and help him adjust to his new life of drinking blood and avoiding the sun. With help from Sandor, Cole begins to teach Gordo the basics about his new life. But Gordo is having trouble letting go of his old life and refuses to drink blood. Both Sandor and Cole know that the thirst can only be denied so long and if denied too long, Gordo could go on a rampage that risks exposing all hemes. If Cole cannot teach Gordo, he must destroy him. Rather than a traditional vampire novel full of romance and violence, Jenkins' story is more low key and introspective. Far from boring, this book offers an interesting take on what life would be like for vampires, both old and new. This reviewer wishes more authors of vampire tales would delve beneath the surface of vampires' psyche rather than going for the easy romance and gore. Jenkins' formula is quietly amazing and a wonderful road trip story for humans and vampires alike. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Jenkins has created a taut and compelling reimagining of the vampire legend, with well-developed characters that transcend horror-novel cliché. When Cole is summoned to the Building in upper Manhattan, he's not sure what to expect, having spent decades away from the place. While other hemovores relax in one of the few safe havens available to their kind, the austere and self-sufficient Cole prefers the freedom of the open road, despite the obvious risks: the difficulty of attaining one's next meal, the necessity of hiding one's true identity, and, of course, a little problem with sunlight. The reason for Cole's presence at the Building soon becomes clear when Gordon, an inadvertently created heme with a bad attitude and a dangerous lack of experience, nearly kills a young woman in an overzealous feed. Heme leader Johnny asks Cole to take Gordon out on the road, where he can be trained in the skills he'll need in his new lifestyle, away from the too-easy comfort of the Building. Success is paramount: it simply isn't prudent to have an uncontrolled blood-drinker on the loose, and should the effort fail, Gordon will have to be disposed of. The plot is suspenseful and well paced, with hints of romance as Cole's worries for Gordon call up dark memories of his own past. A surefire hit for vampire-loving teens.-Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City

Kirkus Reviews
The "v" word that saturates YA literature these days is anathema to the sun-challenged "hemovores" in Printz Honor-winning author Jenkins' undead road-trip novel. Bloodsuckers Cole and Sandor take to the highway in order to indoctrinate fresh convert Gordon in the ways of the "hemes." The journey becomes a metaphorical one for Cole, a centuries-old teenager who still struggles to overcome his own aversion to the hemovore life, even as he instructs his young charge. The already-leisurely narrative often stalls to allow space for Cole's long philosophical musings about the nature of immortality and memory, and even though Jenkins builds suspense with the addition of an unstable "stray" (a rogue hemovore without a colony), the tone remains more Anne Rice than Stephen King. Still, it's an intriguing take on the currently popular subject, and sidekick Sandor's comic commentary lends levity: One fellow "tasted funny" because "[h]e'd had Italian for dinner. . . . You can always tell, because of the garlic." A slow but ultimately satisfying tour through vampire country. (Fiction. YA)
VOYA - Amy Pattee
Broody loner Cole looks like a teenager but is, in actuality, over one hundred years old. Part of a loose organization of vampires, Cole prefers life on the road to the comparatively safer and insular world of the Colony, where vampires live and feed openly on "omnis" —humans who give blood freely to the "hemes." When the leader of the Colony calls upon Cole to educate a newly turned "heme" known as Gordon, Cole and Sandor—the heme responsible for Gordon's conversion—take to the road and attempt to introduce Gordon to the customs of his new life. Cole is a pensive and solitary vampire unused to company in general and the company of the garrulous Sandor and the naive Gordon in particular. His seriousness and emphasis on vigilance is depicted in humorous contrast to Sandor's more carefree ways. The trope of indoctrination works well to enhance suspense: As Gordon learns the secrets of vampire feeding and disguise, readers find themselves initiated as well. The trio's discovery of a rogue vampire and Gordon's reluctance to assume the prince of darkness role complicate their travels and threaten the wary alliance the young men have assumed. Though Night Road concludes with the return of the weary travelers to The Building—the Colony's Manhattan apartment house—a surprise and violent reappearance of the rogue prior to the denouement suggests the possibility of a sequel. Reviewer: Amy Pattee

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.29(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 12 Years

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Night Road
By A. Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 A. Jenkins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060546052

Chapter One

Cole did have a map in his backpack. He'd studied it in the parking garage. Only now that he was already on the subway did it occur to him that it might be outdated.

What a foolish mistake on his part, to assume that he could rely on a thirty-year-old map.

Cole loathed mistakes.

Next stop—Fifth Avenue? That couldn't be right. Fifth was on the wrong side of the park, wasn't it?

He'd decided to take the train into Manhattan because he'd had difficulty once when he'd taken a cab. The stop-and-start traffic had made him carsick, which had been very unpleasant for both him and the cabdriver, who had neither seen nor smelled regurgitated blood before. And of course, as soon as his stomach was emptied, he had to prevent the Thirst that would inevitably follow. He'd quickly fed on the cabdriver, a hairy man who apparently was not fond of bathing. He'd had to take more than usual; then he'd felt bad about leaving the man unconscious and tucked a large tip into the guy's shirt pocket.

Now Cole sat, feeling the muted throb of the tracks under the car, and he had an uncomfortable suspicion he was moving farther and farther away from where he needed to be.

He did not want to pull out his own map. To pull out a map and pore over it in New York City screamed "Tourist! Come rob me!" But there was no help for it. He was an idiot. He should have gottena new map and studied it before he even got out of his car.

He got off at the next stop—Lexington Avenue—backpack slung over his shoulders. He did not like using the backpack, which crushed and wrinkled the clothes inside. Of course, he had not wanted to come into the city at all—but his wants had nothing to do with it, and the backpack was less obtrusive than his suitcase, which had wheels and a handle that popped up.

Real eighteen-year-old guys, Cole felt, did not walk alone at night wheeling luggage on the subways and streets of Manhattan.

He walked across the platform as quickly as possible and leaned with his back against the concrete wall, under the faint sterile buzz of a fluorescent light. There he pulled out the map and discreetly unfolded one corner, hoping that would be enough to give him a clue where Lexington Avenue was in the scheme of things.

It wasn't. He unfurled the whole damn thing. Fine, he was a teenage tourist.

But the map didn't make any sense. Cole didn't even know where he was. And all those colored lines branching off. Now, here he was who knew where, holding a tangled mess of lines on a paper that was worse than useless because the stupid trains didn't always stop at each station that was marked. No, they sometimes skipped stations, which, now that he thought about it, was likely what had happened to him. Or perhaps he'd gotten on the wrong train in the first place, back when he'd switched from the PATH train.

God. He'd have to go up, get his bearings, and walk to his destination.

Unless he was in Queens. Or any place that didn't have streets numbered in a grid.

The problem was that he'd been too complacent. Cole had thought he already had the answers when he knew that the moment you let down your guard is the moment you start making mistakes. He'd just thought he could remember from the last time he'd been here. He couldn't recall the year exactly, but it was the summer Lady Di married Prince Charles. He remembered because Mina and Alice had kept Johnny's TV tuned in to the wedding.

Now, map still in hand, he headed up the concrete stairs to the sidewalk to look at street signs and figure out where he was.

He'd only stayed a few weeks during the Charles-and-Di summer. The longest Cole had ever stayed in Manhattan was for three or four years, back when Johnny had first bought the Building; but that was before the subways had been extended this far.

At the top of the steps Cole paused, map in his hand. It had rained recently, but not much. The air was damp and heavy and smelled of wet streets and steamy concrete, but the only water was a trickle in the gutters, a darker patch here and there on the sidewalk.

Not far away, under the corner street sign, some guy in a greasy overcoat was dancing in the middle of the sidewalk, flapping his arms slowly, his eyes on an invisible somebody right in front of him.

"Code red, Code red," Cole heard him announce to the somebody. "Frequency forty-nine has been alerted. Clearance requested from the emperor."

All right. There was no hurry; it was several hours till dawn. And Cole did not know why Johnny had called him in, but if it had been urgent, there was no question that Johnny would have told him so.

Of course, he had not tried to find out what it was all about. He'd felt a vague discomfort licking at him, but rather than ask Johnny why he wanted him to come in, Cole had asked instead: Is everything all right? And Johnny had said yes. Anything beyond that, he knew, could wait.

He peered at the strange man again—he could almost smell the stale odor of unwashed clothes from here. He wasn't afraid of the guy, just reluctant to get involved in a hassle out on a public street.

"Need help?"

Cole turned. It was a woman. Not hemovore. An omnivore. You could always tell even if no bodily movements gave it away. An omni's eyes had a stunted, undeveloped look, while a heme's gaze was ripe to the core. This omni woman had short gray hair, wore jeans, and carried a canvas bag looped over one shoulder.


Excerpted from Night Road by A. Jenkins Copyright © 2008 by A. Jenkins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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