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4.0 73
by Pete Hautman, Brooke Williams (Photographer)

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There are only two races that matter: the Living and the Undead - and with every year that passes, the numbers of the Undead grow. It is inevitable.

So says Lucy Szabo. She has a theory: Hundred of years ago, before the discovery of insulin, slowly dying of diabetics were the original "vampires." Lucy, a diabetic herself, counts herself among the modern


There are only two races that matter: the Living and the Undead - and with every year that passes, the numbers of the Undead grow. It is inevitable.

So says Lucy Szabo. She has a theory: Hundred of years ago, before the discovery of insulin, slowly dying of diabetics were the original "vampires." Lucy, a diabetic herself, counts herself among the modern Undead.

As Sweetblood, she frequents the Transylvania room, an Internet chat room where so-called vampires gather to discuss all things goth. But Draco, one of the other visitors to Transylvania, claims to be a real vampire - and Lucy's not entirely sure he's kidding.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author traces a vampire-obsessed 16-year-old diabetic's steep slide downward as she is intellectually seduced by a middle-aged cybervamp via the Internet. "The exotic theme coupled with the heroine's highly recognizable feelings of oddity and isolation make for a tantalizing read," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) n Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Pete Hautman's typical, yet interesting, novel about adolescent rebellion delves into the world of a teenage diabetic and her theories on the disease's relationship to vampirism. In the first pages, Lucy Szabo relates that, at six, she had an encounter with a bat, soon followed by the onset of diabetes and then a lifelong obsession with linking these unrelated events. Now in her mid-teens, she has started rebelling against her parents, doctors, teachers, and even friends. Whether she is ignoring her insulin program, dressing like a "Goth," chatting with weirdoes in a "Transylvania chat-room," or sneaking out to parties, Lucy longs to find acceptance and understanding. After writing a scary essay in which she expounds on her theories about untreated diabetes—its resulting comas and insatiable appetites, etc.—and the medieval belief in vampires, Lucy is swept up in a world of over-reacting adults who confiscate her computer and send her to a psychiatrist. The novel's strengths lie in its author's deft use of contemporary teen culture, such as the "Goth" scene and internet chatting, and its portrayal of a chronically ill young person's struggle for acceptance. Reading about Lucy's mother's hand-wringing drama over her health and the vice-principal's violent response to her insulin reaction reminded this reader of a recent tabloid headline, "VAMPIRE POPULATION THREATENED BY AIDS." Although Lucy's theory about vampirism may remain a fantastic one, young readers should learn that, even today, people with diseases have to live with the ignorance and hysterical reactions of others. 2003, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 12 up.
—Scott Harris
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Szabo has diabetes and is fascinated by vampires. She has come to the conclusion that the vampires of ancient legends were actually untreated diabetics, a theory that she enjoys discussing in a vampire chat room. She dresses in black, reads Anne Rice, and is attracted to Dylan, a mysterious student in her French class, who introduces her to Wayne, an intriguing older man who role-plays as a vampire. After sneaking out on Halloween night to accompany Dylan to a party at Wayne's house, Lucy drinks too much and collapses into a diabetic coma while walking home. Rescued by Mark, her loyal childhood friend and neighbor, she wakes up in the hospital much wiser and with a newfound appreciation for those who love her. Hautman, a diabetic himself, creates a thoroughly believable, smart, and likeable character in Lucy. His imagery is witty and energetic, and his style of writing in first-person present tense gives crispness and a feeling of immediacy to the novel. Lucy's anger at her disease leads to isolation and self-destructive behavior, such as failure to regulate her insulin, but her unfailing humor and common sense prevail in the end. There are no "real" vampires in this book. Nevertheless, the predator Wayne, an adult who hosts wild parties for teenagers, is more chilling than any vampire could be. Hautman's warning is serious but subtle and will be better understood by older readers. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Simon & Schuster, 192p,
— Dotsy Harland
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2003: This is quite an amazing novel. I remember when many YA novels featured a disease and then an after-school special followed up on the "educational" story—very contrived. Sweet Blood is not contrived. Perhaps it helps that Pete Hautman himself suffers from insulin-dependent diabetes and knows all about it, because this is the disease that the narrator Lucy is dealing with. Anyone with any firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be monitoring blood sugar throughout each day, with fluctuating moods and energy levels, will recognize the reality of Lucy's life. Highly intelligent, Lucy considers what it must have been like for diabetics in the past, before doctors understood the disease and insulin was available. She does some research and writes a report for history class, proposing that the descriptions of vampires could be descriptions of those suffering from diabetes—this is how vampires get connected to this novel. Lucy struggles with defeated parents, with herself, with deceptive people she meets. She is angry and stumbling, making bad choices, but generally progressing toward some acceptance of her situation and herself. I like the respect Hautman shows for her—she's smart and she really is trying to come to grips with her body and her life. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 242p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Hautman is known for tackling unusual topics in his fiction, and this book is no exception. Lucy Szabo has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since she was 6, and now, at age 16, she has developed an interesting theory that links vampirism with diabetic ketoacidosis. When she explains her theory in a creative writing paper, however, her teacher, counselor, and parents become concerned that Lucy may finally be "too weird" and take steps to find help for her. When her computer is removed from her room and she is unable to frequent the Transylvanian chat room, Lucy decides that perhaps real-life adventures are in order. With a new friend, she ventures into the world of tarot cards and goth, perhaps meeting a real vampire in the flesh, while allowing her diabetes to spiral out of control. Teens eager for vampire stories will find Lucy's link between diabetes and vampirism fascinating and plausible. Most of the characters are stock, but the protagonist stands out as being an intelligent, curious young woman who is dealing with all of the usual adolescent angst, compounded by her condition. No longer wishing to be controlled by anything, she decides to stop conforming completely, with almost deadly results. This book should appeal to a wide range of interests, from those looking for a good vampire book to those touched by the illness.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A gripping, painful, and well-written coming-of-ager with a twist. Diabetic Lucy Szabo's world is populated by legions of the Undead: those, like herself, who are only alive due to modern medicine. Untreated diabetes, she believes, is the true source of vampire legend, which makes her a potential vampire. Though she wears mostly black, reads Anne Rice, and spends time on vampire chat rooms, Lucy is adamantly "not goth." She is, however, 16, angry, and flunking out of school, and her worried parents confiscate her computer. Bitter and lonely, Lucy lets her health deteriorate as she befriends those who, while potentially dangerous, seem to understand her troubles. To survive, she must learn to preserve her individuality without building a personality centered on despair. Lucy is richly drawn: smart and likable, with wit and a knack for language. Despite a cast of characters straight out of a formulaic problem novel, an original and powerful tale. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, starred review A tantalizing read.

Booklist, starred review Outstanding....This imaginative, intriguing "what if" novel will attract fans of vampire stories, as well as teens who feel different from the norm — in short, all of them.

Kliatt An amazing novel.

Kirkus Reviews A gripping, painful, and well-written coming-of-ager with a twist...an original and powerful tale.

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Blood is my friend. Without it my cells shrivel. Without it I die.

At night, alone with myself, I hear it rushing through arteries and veins, platelets tumbling in a soup of plasma and glucose through slick, twisty tubes, lining up to enter narrow capillaries, delivering oxygen and fuel, seeking idle insulin. It is a low-pitched sound: wind passing through woodlands.

I hear a higher pitched sound too: A demon dentist drilling, rising and falling but never stopping. It is the sound of my thoughts.

Alone, at night, with myself, the low sound and the high sound become music. If I lie perfectly still and quiet the concert separates me from my body. Eyes closed, I float above myself, supported on a cloud of song.

But these are my secrets, things I do not talk about. You don't want people to think you're crazy, not even your best friends.

Even if you are crazy. Especially if you are.

When I was six years old I found a dying bat, probably Myotis lucifugus. Or maybe it was Desmodus rotundus, the infamous vampire bat, on vacation from South America. Nobody knows for sure. I saw the bat flopping around on the grass. I didn't know what it was, but being only six and fond of all small creatures, I picked it up. Its wings were velvety soft and it made squeaking, mewling protests. I put it in my pocket and took it home to show to my mother.

She let out a shriek. That was ten years ago, but I can still hear her screech echoing in my skull. I dropped the bat -- flop flop flop -- on the kitchen floor and my mother grabbed her broom and WHACK WHACK WHACK. She swept it into the plastic dustpan and carried it outside

and dropped it in the trash. Another pet story with a sad ending.

That night when my father got home he heard the story of the bat. He did not scream like my mother but instead got very gruff and concerned and made me show him my hands. Scratches, scratches everywhere. Did it bite? He kept asking me did it bite. I was going NO NO NO, but my hands were scratched from picking raspberries at the Fremonts', where I was not supposed to go, and he was holding my hands too hard and he was furious and my mother was whining and I was screaming and shrieking loudest of all, I'm sure.


The bat is in the trash, my mother tells him. He drops my scratched hands and runs outside, but the bat is gone. The trash has been picked up. My mother and I sob in the face of my father's rage.

I don't remember much about the hospital. They say that rabies shots are painful, and that there are a lot of them. I don't remember the shots. Maybe I have blocked the memories, or maybe they have dissolved into the memories of all the other shots I've had in my life. I've had a lot of shots. All I remember now is that the emergency room doctor was very calm and gentle, and I liked him.

"Little girls aren't supposed to play with sick bats," he told me, smiling.

"I'm not so little," I said.

I don't know why I remember that and not the shots.

Fish, my endocrinologist, tells me that the bat and the rabies shots had nothing to do with my diabetes. I am not so sure. How can you give a six-year-old girl rabies shots and not have it affect her? The way I see it (and I have done a lot of research in this area) the rabies vaccination trains the body's immune system to attack. That's what vaccines do. They don't actually kill the bacteria or virus, they just activate the immune system. As soon as the supposed rabies virus starts to multiply, the immune system is ready and waiting and BAM. The virus never has a chance.

But here's the thing: That same immune system that kills rabies viruses kills other kinds of cells too. The cells that make insulin, for instance. Beta cells. I have been over this with Fish. He doubts that the rabies shots did anything bad to me. He says that my immune system destroyed my beta cells all on its own. Fish (real name: Harlan Fisher, M.D.) knows his stuff, but he still can't tell me why, three months after the rabies shots, this little girl guzzled an entire half gallon of orange juice in just one afternoon.

Blood is my enemy. It carries death to my cells.

I still remember gulping orange juice right out of the carton, cold and sweet, pouring down my throat. Six years old, I could hardly lift the carton, but I was so desperately thirsty -- gulp gulp gulp -- I could've won a guzzling contest. Also, I could've won a peeing contest, because everything I drank went straight into the toilet.

You'd think my mother would've noticed earlier, but it didn't hit her how sick I was until I'd gone through about six cartons of juice in one week -- and wet my bed twice. Then it was whoosh -- off to the doctor. Dr. Gingrass with the big mole on his giant nose. He's the one who gave me my first shot of insulin. I stared numbly as he mixed the cloudy insulin with the clear, had me lift my shirt, and pinched up a bit of baby fat and slipped the needle in. It didn't hurt a bit, but my mother was freaking, crying and asking the poor doctor how this could happen. Even then, I knew enough to be embarrassed by her, but it wasn't until years later that I came to understand the fullness of what had happened to me. Insulin is more than just a treatment for the disease called diabetes mellitus. It is the thin strand that holds me to earth.

Without it I die.

Copyright © 2003 by Pete Murray Hautman

Meet the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, Invisible, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at PeteHautman.com.

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Sweetblood 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a vampire reader for a while now- so I expected vamps. The theory created in the story really does seem possible, but so is a mad person in the Middle Ages. It wasn't the greatest book I've ever read, not the worst either. Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde was better 'finished it in 2 nights- yes, nights'...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read this a was in middle school struggling with my own diabetes. I didn't know anyone else with diabetes either. I just happened to find it in the library and fell in love with it. I love her perspective on how theres a link between diabetics and vampires, it made me laugh :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe that this book was awesome and anyone who likes this stuff should read it. I read it twice in school because it was that awesome and i am going to buy it even though i read it twice because to me it never gets old. :D
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Andorra More than 1 year ago
i loved this book when i was younger and i still love it!
Maelene Andujar More than 1 year ago
enjoyed it from beginning to end
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mrscullen411 More than 1 year ago
I am a fifteen year old female and I absolutly adored this book. It made me see how diabetics live there lives and what they go through. I also love that she compares herself to a vampire who compares insulin to blood. It's a must read. ;]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bellagirl1 More than 1 year ago
i found this boook suppper boaring to me its eeemd it lasted forever not what i exspected at alll however it might be a good book for teens who are expereincing diabetees you might be able to relate unlike me. thats mostly what it is about this girl lucy who has diabetees and her theorys on vampiers and her obsession with black. i didnt enjoy it soo i dont recomend it but everyone has diffrent opinions but the back of the book dosnt give the best descriptions of the book thats not even what the book is about sooo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Selbe More than 1 year ago
During the book, I found myself wishing it were over. Also, I even occasionally turned to the back to see how many pages were left. However, I enjoyed hearing about her life. For instance, her theory seemed very thought out. Wayne, however, was a complete and total creep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago