Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

THE SILVER KISS was TWILIGHT for the 90s set. Simon the vampire is ancient, gloomy, and obsessive. Zoe is precocious, alienated, and old-fashioned in a way that doesn't really feel realistic for a teenage girl. There are differences, of course. TWILIGHT is more of a traditional love story with vampirism thrown in for lols, whereas THE SILVER KISS stays truer to its horror roots and has a grittiness to it that the Mormon housewife-penned TWILIGHT lacks (drugs, suicide, rape, death, etc.). Even so, the similarities are hard to ignore and it is difficult to say with certainty that there was no way Meyer didn't read or hear about this book and feel inspired by it.

THE SILVER KISS is a surprisingly powerful story in how it handles its difficult themes. Death is terrifying and inescapable, and many, many books have been inspired by the cruel and beautiful concept of mortality. Without it, we would stagnate, or fester. Knowing life will end is what, for many of us, keeps everything flowing into motion. Simon, on the other hand, just exists. The years bleed into one another until they have almost no meaning. His only purpose in life is to destroy the evil vampire who turned him, and Zoe is just a footnote, a curiosity - a girl who is touched by death as much as he is, but also just as removed.

Simon was a pretty great character. Because he is more predatory, it's ironically less creepy than if he were portrayed as an ordinary romantic love interest who just happens to be a vampire (the way Edward was in TWILIGHT). His life as a homeless drifter feels much less romantic than someone who is rich and blessed with a family to socialize with whenever they need to go on the run or hunt. His desperation for contact makes his fascination with Zoe seem slightly more realistic (although there was a moment in this book that rivaled Edward's watching Bella sleep; Simon pees on Zoe's house to mark his territory). Zoe took a while longer for me to warm up to her, but her grief over her mother's terminal cancer explains a lot of her odd behaviors and her apparent coldness. It also explains why vampirism holds an appeal for her; she knows better than most that life is finite.

I'm a romantic at heart and a sucker for happy endings (although I am one of those people who believes that not all romance novels need to have happy endings, which is apparently very ~controversial~ in the romance community), but sometimes happy endings just aren't very realistic and are damaging to the integrity of the story. TWILIGHT ends with Bella becoming a vampire; it's about cheating death, a love that literally transcends time. On the other hand, you have books like TUCK EVERLASTING, where the romance can't feasibly work and the book ends accordingly.

Perhaps as a nod to its similarities to TWILIGHT, the rerelease has a red, black, and white cover with Gothic font that looks like it could belong in the series. That's the edition I read, although I like this one a lot better. My edition also came with two short stories. One was a prologue to THE SILVER KISS and was called The Summer of Love. The other was an epilogue and was called The Christmas Cat. I did not really care for either story. Summer of Love was good, but the climax of the story is a cat death, and I've already read two other books this week where the cat dies, so that just felt needlessly depressing. Christmas Cat was super cheesy, and felt like an excuse to bring Simon back. I was also disappointed that the cat wasn't her mother, who said that she would like to be brought back as a cat. That felt like a lost opportunity to explore - sacrificed for teen love, because of course.

THE SILVER KISS is one of the earlier teen vampire romances so I think it's a good book to read if you're interested in going back to basics or want to read something more hard-core than TWILIGHT. It hasn't aged that badly and features many themes that are still relevant today. Check it out.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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