Meehl's (Out of Patience) contribution to the growing subgenre of YA vampire novels is very, very funnysimilar to M.T. Anderson's Thirsty, but less twisted and heavier on the humor. Morning McCobb, a recent graduate of the IV (International Vampire) League, is the vampire as superhero, geek and lonely boy all rolled into one. His first postgraduation assignment is to tell the world that yes, vampires do exist. Becoming the first outand therefore most famousvampire isn't easy (cue the media frenzy). Being around this unlikely heartbreaker is difficult, too, as Portia Dredful finds out when her PR agent mom's highest-profile client moves in with them. The author is especially clever with names (Penny Dredful, Merder Sink), his prose engaging, smart and fast-paced. Witty one-liners pile up while Meehl exploits every known vampire cliché to great comic effect (Morning not only refuses human blood, he's vegan, subsisting on a protein blood substitute called Blood Lite made from soy). A refreshing take on the brooding vampire romance, with a misfit vampire protagonist readers are certain to love. Ages 12up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Sixteen-year-old Morning McCobb is an unlikely vampire. For one thing, he's a vegan who uses a soy blood substitute. He was "turned" by accident, and he's a gawky geek, not beautiful like the other vampires. So Morning is startled but flattered when he's chosen by the head of the International Vampire League to be the first vampire to out himself to humans, who the immortal vampires call "Lifers." He sees it as a chance to become the superhero he's always dreaming of becoming. A determined human publicist named Penny Dredful takes on the task of presenting Morning and his cause to the world; meanwhile, Morning finds himself falling hard for her teenage daughter Portia, a would-be documentary filmmaker. This fun romp, full of humor and details of modern vampire culturethey maintain a website, for exampleis a pleasant change from the usual dark tales of bites in the night. The eye-catching cover (a happy face icon with fangs, sucking up blood-like letters through a straw) will help attract readers to this offbeat tale. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Debbie Clifford
Morning McCobb is an average, sixteen-year-old nerd with a secret fantasy to be a superhero. In addition, he is a vampire, although he has never tasted human blood, instead subsisting on a soy-based substitute called Blood Lite. Recently graduated from Leaguer Academy, Morning is now a member of the International Vampire League, vampires who have evolved beyond the need for human blood. Tapped for a special assignment, he is to be the first vampire to go public and show the world that Leaguer vampires are not monsters like the few remaining Loner vampires, the traditional blood-draining kind. Public relations maven, Penny Dredful along with her teenaged photojournalist daughter attempt to aid Morning with his assignment while a renegade Loner does his best to stop him. Naturally things do not go smoothly, and Morning is horrified to discover that a little blood lust lingers in every Leaguer when confronted with the right-or wrong-circumstances. Meehl crafts an entertaining story of adventure and romance with more than a little humor. Morning is so sympathetically drawn that the reader will at times forget that he is a vampire and easily relate to him. The plot's pace will keep teen readers engaged, and the characters have depth and personality. Most readers will find this tale a welcome addition to the growing list of vampire titles. Reviewer: Debbie Clifford
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up
Morning McCobb is graduating from the IVLeague (International Vampire League) Academy, where students are schooled to be Leaguers (vampires who live peacefully though secretly among mortals and subsist on animal blood) instead of Loners (those who follow the old ways). A forever-16-year-old misfit among his perfect classmates-the slightly older "hunks and hotties" usually chosen to become vampires-Morning is a SangFU (blood flub up); he accidentally received the "virus" while being bled dry by a Loner. He's also a vegan who drinks only a soy blood substitute. When he's offered the opportunity to be the first Leaguer to come out of the closet to the world and show mortals that vampires are just another special-needs minority, he jumps at the chance to end his outcast status and perhaps fulfill his one-time dream of becoming a firefighter. Things are going well until he becomes attracted to Portia, his PR specialist's outspoken daughter, and begins to experience true bloodlust for the first time. Meanwhile, a menacing Loner is determined to stop Morning from succeeding. Not quite as dark as most vampire novels, Meehl's story is filled with humor, quirky characters, light romance, mild suspense, and a lot of fun. A strong addition to a very popular genre.-Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA
Another title in the growing category of such non-traditional vampire novels. Meehl's vampires (called Leaguers) walk in the sunlight after conquering "solar phobia," adhere to the motto, "Drink culture, not life," and seek recognition as a minority group. To test whether the world is ready for them to come out, they've chosen spokesvamp Morning McCobb, an accidental vampire who only drinks "BloodLite" (a soy substitute) and whose vampirism can't hide his inner geek. Under the guidance of the Leaguer leader, Morning joins forces with PR whiz Penny Dredful-but her filmmaker daughter awakens Morning's bloodlust. Meanwhile, a loner vamp tries to bring Morning down. After an exposition-heavy start, this settles into an enjoyable romp. Morning references comic-book heroes and wants to be a firefighter (inspired by 9/11); he also struggles with remaining himself in the face of fame. The text sometimes relies too much on wordplay but delivers with appealing characters and an original vampire world. Delightful for those who like their romance vaguely paranormal, their adventure romantic and their vampires defanged. (Fantasy/humor. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2008:
"A refreshing take on the brooding vampire romance, with a misfit vampire protagonist readers are certain to love."
Read an Excerpt
"In the end is beginning." Luther Birnam's deep voice rained down from the high platform, charging the air above a wide semicircle of cadets. "In the beginning is end." Standing in white graduation gowns, the handsome young men and beautiful young women blazed with pride. "Today, you end your life as a Loner, and begin your new life as a Leaguer!"
The cadets erupted in cheering applause.
The last student in the arcing line clapped with just enough enthusiasm not to be noticed. For the ten months Morning McCobb had attended Leaguer Academy, being invisible had been mission number one. It wasn't easy. It never is when you're the class freak.
At sixteen, Morning was younger and skinnier than his cookie-cutter classmates. While their gowns swelled over the bodies of hunks and hotties in their late teens and twenties, Morning's robe hung from his bony shoulders like it was still on the hanger. Even his hair was different. The male cadets had coifs that never moved from their last mirror check. The women had wavy manes that bounced to perfection. Morning's hair resembled a patch of wheatgrass small animals had recently bedded down in.
As the cadets continued to whistle and fist-pump, Morning's dark eyes scanned the line. They reminded him of dogs straining at their leashes. He wished he had the X-Men superpowers of Banshee. He would strafe the cadets with a sonic blast, stunning them into a hypnotic trance so Mr. Birnam could finish his speech.
Unfortunately, Birnam tossed them another bone. "Today ends your long night as prisoners of darkness, and begins your day as masters of light!"
The roar of approval was doubled by the throng of teachers and visitors jamming the grandstand. The sound bounced around the great cavern inside Leaguer Mountain like bottled thunder.
Adding his token applause, Morning realized the powers of Banshee weren't enough. He needed the skills of the supervillain Dr. Chronos. Wielding his powers of time-compression, he could fast-forward the commencement to over. It wasn't that Morning wasn't excited about graduating. He was. The sooner he got out of Leaguer Mountain, the sooner his classmates would stop rubbing his face in the dismal truth. While they looked like perfectly chiseled Abercrombie models, no amount of pumping iron would ever make Morning buff. No surge of hormones would ever change his face from boyish to manly. He was stuck with peach fuzz and a body that was more stick-of-gum than stud. And there was nothing he could do about it. Ever.
That's how it was with vampires. Shape-shifting allowed, aging not.
Of course, Leaguer vampires didn't call it "shape-shifting" anymore. In Vampire Vocabulary and Leaguer Lexicon class, Morning had learned that "shape-shifting" belonged to the dark ages of the twentieth century. All vampires who belonged to the IVL-the International Vampire League-had word-shifted to the more scientifically accurate "cell differentiation." CD, for short.
The crowd hushed as Birnam raised his hands. "To commemorate your journey from darkness to light, I will now present your diplomas. When you hear your name, demonstrate the mastery of your powers by ascending the platform in one of the Six Forms. After receiving your diploma, you will then descend in the only incarnation you will ever need again: a Leaguer among Leaguers."
Morning's stomach flopped like a landed fish. He dreaded this part of the ceremony. Yes, in CD 101, he had stumbled through the Six Forms of cell differentiation and managed to pass, but it was like being the worst kid in gym. He never knew how he was going to screw up; he only knew it would probably end in humiliation.
For Morning, this wasn't the worst part of being a vampire. The worst part was the irony of it all. As a kid, he had dreamed of an accident transforming him into a superhero. Like the spider bite that turned Peter Parker into Spider-Man. Or the lab accident that mutated Jon Osterman into Dr. Manhattan. Unfortunately, Morning's little snafu involved a vampire bite. And yeah, being a vampire came with a few superpowers, but it wasn't exactly a skill set you used for saving people.
Mr. Birnam called the first name. "Dieter Auerbach." A brawny young man jogged forward. After a few strides, his white gown billowed, and a sleek gray wolf darted from under the falling robe. The wolf trotted toward the tower.
"Our first graduate has chosen the Fifth Form: the Runner," Birnam announced.
The wolf broke into a lope, surged forward, and leaped onto the lowest platform protruding from the spiraling tower. With flawless grace, the animal sprang from platform to platform. When Dieter's wolf landed at the top next to Birnam, the crowd rewarded him with applause.
Birnam held up a long, rolled diploma. The wolf spun and CDed back into human form. Dieter was now sheathed in skintight, black underarmor. The glistening material accented every muscle in his flawless body.
The sight of underarmor gripped Morning in panic. He pulled at his gown, peeked underneath, and sighed with relief. Yes, he'd remembered to put on his black Epidex.
One of the things Morning was thankful for was that he had become a vampire after Leaguer scientists invented Epidex. Before Epidex, when a vampire CDed there was no way he, or she, could take their clothes with them. When they CDed back to human form they came back butt naked. Of course, there were still some vampires, known as Loners, who practiced all the old ways, and could care less if they ran around naked. Loner vampires streaked, Leaguers didn't.
In Leaguer Science, Morning had remembered enough about the history of Epidex to manage a C on his final. Epidex was invented when a vampire scientist asked, "If human skin is an external organ, could an artificial skin be invented that became both an external and internal organ?" After many failures, a Leaguer egghead invented Epidex. Somehow, Epidex combined a carbon-polymer blend with nanotechnology into a living tissue that fed off the electrical current that flowed through all bodies. And somehow, when vampires CDed, the big electrical surge it created transformed the Epidex into an internal organ. It stayed that way until the vampire switched back to human form and the Epidex re-externalized. While Morning knew his less-than stunning summary of Epidex wouldn't earn him an A, he thought he at least deserved a B because of his clever conclusion: "Epidex is the underwear of underwears."