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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. . . .
About the Author
A. M. Jenkins is the award-winning author of Damage, Beating heart: A Ghost Story, and the Printz Honor Book Repossessed, and lives in Benbrook, Texas, with three sons, two cats, and two dogs. Jenkins received the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship for night road.
Read an Excerpt
By A. Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 A. Jenkins
All right reserved.
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 Only now that he was already on the subway did it occur to him that it might be outdated.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.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Honestly for what it was, it was a very cool, interesting book. As long as you can get past the funny vocab they use in their vampiric ways, the book is actually pretty interesting. ALL I'M SAYING is that there had BETTER be a sequel because the book has NOT truly ended. I feel as though the end of the book was only the end of a chapter, and there should have been more. There are SO MANY questions left unanswered that I would still LOVE to read/find out!
The book Night Road, by A.M. Jenkins, is an interesting selection. I read this book and was hooked immediately. I knew that once I began reading that I would not stop very easily. The conflict is hooking; a hemovore named Ezekiel, nicknamed Cole, is trying to teach a new heme (short for hemovore) named Gordon to control his "thirst" and feeding habits. Gordon is new to this life and is having issues with his new emotions, looks, as well as appetite. Cole, Gordon, and another heme named Sandor take Gordon on a road trip that is a few months long to adjust him to his new environment. The colony of hemes is in a place called The Building, where Omnis (humans) live and offer to be fed upon when the hemes become thirsty. The hemes are an industrious people that do not appreciate being called vampires, because that is not what they are. While on the Road, the hemes meet a "stray", which is a heme that has been abandoned after creation and not of the colony. Gordon is catching on fast, yet he wants to go and see his family and his girlfriend in Missouri. His request is refused every time the question arises and he becomes thoroughly sad and filled with rage. Cole meanwhile is coming to terms with his inner self and is occasionally thinking of his brother Guerdon. He was placed in charge of teaching Gordon most of the time and Sandor is in charge of being a bit lenient. Gordo is always getting better and better at feeding, and is still dejected about being denied the right to see his loved ones. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of fiction stories with a bit of a twist to it. This book will have the reader engrossed after the first few pages. It is a one of a kind stunning success.
I am recently reading this book and I am the begining of chapter 4...its getting good!!
Cole isn't quite like most hemes--as in hemovore, one who devours blood. The soft life of those living in The Building in New York City, with willing omnis offering their blood in exchange for the high feeding gives them, makes him uneasy. But he's drawn from his solitary lifestyle when the leader of the hemes asks him for a favor. Cole's friend, Sandor, has accidentally created a new heme, and it's up to him and Cole to teach Gordon about the "disease" he must now live with: how to feed, how to avoid detection, and how to control the mind-warping Thirst.
Cole, Sandor, and Gordon set off on a cross-country road trip, easing Gordon into his new life along the way. As Cole overcomes his frustration with Gordon and starts to feel sympathy for him, a long-buried guilt from his past starts to rise to the surface. When the trio encounters a stray heme with murderous tendencies, and Gordon goes on a hunger strike in an attempt to refuse accepting his condition, Cole finds himself questioning everything he thought he believed about himself and about what it means to stay human.
NIGHT ROAD is a dark, thoughtful novel that will draw readers into its mysterious and often dangerous world. Its take on the vampire mythology is fresh and layered. Despite his predatory nature, Cole is both easy to relate to and likable in his doubts, his respect for the omni humans on which he feeds, and his attempts to do right by those around him without risking too much of himself in the process.
Jenkins doesn't shy away from tough issues, like what might happen to hemes when they appear to be dead, whether they have souls, and how someone doomed to forever watch life passing in and out of existence around them can keep some semblance of humanity. The characters and ideas will stick with readers long after they've set down the book.
Highly recommended, even for those who think they couldn't bear to read one more "vampire" book.
Night Road puts a unique spin on vampires that makes it stand apart in the already saturated market of blood sucker books. But it's not just another vampire book. The narration reminds me of S. E. Hinton¿s writing in all the best ways. The characters voices are well defined and the slow unraveling of Cole¿s history will keep readers interested without making them want to scream ¿get to the point already¿. The issues Cole faces internally and his feelings of being disconnected are all too relevant in today¿s age where making a real connection with someone is getting harder and harder. The book is thought compelling and emotionally driven. Half the time it¿s clear that what¿s not being said is the more important aspect. It¿s more of a coming of age story that happens to involve hemeovores. All together a great read.
Night Road by A.M. Jenkins was an amazing book. Anyone who has any interest in vampires will love this story. It was very intriguing. Once I started reading, I couldn¿t stop. The story made me pause and think because each character is very complex. I had to try to put myself in there view and understand what they are thinking. Overall, I would definitely recommend Night Road by A.M. Jenkins to family and friends.