Readers familiar with the film Blade Runner will recognize similar elements in Melaka Fray's futuristic world: lots of darkness, grit and flying cars. Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Whedon admits he isn't trying to reinvent a vision of the future; he reserves his enormous talent for creating heroines possessing superhuman talent and enough spunk and charisma to bewitch the most skeptical audience. Tough but reluctant vampire-fighter Fray lives in the bad part of town and makes a living doing heists for Gunther, a blue and scaly criminal operator who directs operations while submerged in a living-room-sized tank. So when an enormous, goat-hoofed demon shows up at Fray's apartment, she's not terribly fazed, but she certainly isn't ready for his message: she, Melaka Fray, is destined to kill vampires. Where Fray comes from, vampires are known as "lurks," and a horrific incident in which they killed her brother has left her leery of the whole lot of them. Furthermore, Fray's had none of the dreams or visions that are the slayer's usual preparation for a lifetime of fighting and sacrifice. All things considered, she's not interested. However, when one of Fray's close friends is also wiped out, she's drawn into the battle despite her better judgment. From then on, it's futuristic war, as the story takes some delicious, unexpected twists involving siblings and betrayals. Whedon's trademark nail-biting plot reversals, tossed-off jokes and surprisingly complex relationships characterize the book, and Moline and Owens' art brings a wholly absorbing gut-level edge to Fray's world. It's a stunning, irresistible package. (Dec. 2003) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-The heart and power of this story comes from its central character, Melaka Fray. She is a thief and reluctant Slayer, severed from her heritage by her twin brother and estranged from her sister for letting him die. She gets a scythe and some help from a demon and is told to save humanity. The art is colorful and effective, ably conveying a sense of Melaka's world. Characters' expressions are well done, enhancing the effect of Whedon's snappy dialogue. However, when there's no action and characters are just talking, the background sometimes disappears, leaving them in a colored void. Melaka is as appealing a heroine as the author's Buffy. She's tough, but she cares deeply about the people around her. The supporting characters also stand out. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will love Fray, and it will also find an audience with anyone who appreciates girl power.-Susan Salpini, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.