Recap #61: Books of Blood 3: The Coach by M. C. Sumner
Title: Books of Blood 3: The Coach by M. C. Sumner
Summary: The town is plagued by vampires who can change shape to appear to be anyone they like. The baseball coach is convinced Chris killed his daughter – and he’s out to get him. But it was the vampires, and Chris is out to get them. Finally Chris saves himself, his friend and his town from the vampires.
Tagline: Playing games of death…
Notes: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.
I really didn’t get along well with the second in this series, so I’m really not looking forward to this one. However, it’s the third in a trilogy, so maybe it will perk up.
[Wing: I quite enjoyed the second book, and I find that cover both ridiculous and fun, so I have hope that I will enjoy this book.]
We open with Chris at a police station, alone in an interrogation room, trying not to look guilty in front of the mirror, which he’s certain is two-way glass. Good Cop and Bad Cop come in, Good Cop is Talli’s father, Sergeant Jake McAlister, and Bad Cop is Sergeant Howard Lansky (who was mentioned in Book 1 as being one of the police officers that Talli did not want to tell her story too).
Lansky tells Chris that he’s under investigation for the murder of Casey Pays, but he doesn’t say it in a straightforward way, in order to trip Chris up. And it works, Chris refers to Casey in past tense before Lansky states that Casey is dead. Lanksy screams that if it wasn’t for “politics” he’d still be a real detective and this is his chance to get out of this “hick town”. Just a note: I loathe when adults scream anything in books. It’s a word that always makes me pause, re-read, and try to see and hear the scene. It’s a rare occasion when a scream actually fits the flow, this is not one of those times – I get that he’s a stress-head interrogator, but this makes him sound like a toddler throwing a fit (and I mean toddler, not adult acting like a child). (And just for clarity, actual screams, not words being screamed, are just fine, that doesn’t make me re-read an analyse.)
Lansky says that he’s got witnesses putting Casey on Chris’ street the night she disappeared, even one who thinks they saw her go into the house. Which she did, and Chris had to stab her with a silver knife to kill her because she’s a vampire. Which is obviously something he can’t explain to the police.
Then Casey Pays’ dad barges in and asks if Chris is the one who hurt Casey. He’s ushered out, but way to go, Westerberg PD. Chris is a suspect – and Casey’s dad is the football coach at his school. So Chris’ life is going to be fun at school, isn’t it?
Chris is dismissed, but as he leaves, Lansky says that he wants to talk to Talli, because she was involved in the first set of disappearances, and now she’s involved in this set.
And then head hop (although it is broken up by a line break) to Coach Pays, who watches Chris leave and is determined to get to the bottom of these disappearances, and if Chris doesn’t know anything, he’ll find out from Talli.
Next chapter and we’re with Talli, who feels utterly sick and miserable right until the second the sun goes down, and then she feels much better. Her dad comes home and tells her that Lansky’s got a bee in his bonnet about Chris, and it would be better if Talli stayed away from him until everything blows over. Casey says she understands what he’s saying, but she needs to talk to Chris. Dad tells her to talk to her other friends. Casey points out that all of her friends bar Chris are at best missing and at worst dead. Which, ouch, Talli’s not had the best run of luck with friends over the past few months.
Talli’s hungry, but when she heads downstairs, the smell of the beef stew that’s cooking makes her feel ill. Her parents think it smells fine, so clearly she’s at the “I don’t eat people food” stage of her vampirism. That sucks, I’d miss chocolate. She goes outside to clear her head and settle her stomach and stares at the Volker house, which burned down at the end of the last book. She thinks the snow that’s fallen on the burnt skeleton of the house looks like mould on a corpse. She hates the house, given that her friend Lisa died there, and she thought Alex died there. And there’s a nice line about how what came back as Alex merely looked like him, and that she has to believe that.
We do another head hop to a girl who is in a car with a man, who is driving to Westerberg, way too fast, to “help”. Both are unnamed at this point.
Next chapter. Chris is eating dinner with his sister, Donna. She’s not doing too well with pretending not to know what happened to Casey when Casey’s death is firmly etched on her mind. Chris tries to reassure her that the police gave up on all of the disappearances of the first book, so sooner or later, they’ll write Casey’s disappearance off too, which is ghoulish, but not exactly a terrible assumption to make. Lansky has called and visited and bothered them repeatedly, so when the doorbell rings, Chris expects it to be him.
It’s Talli. She can’t cross the threshold – it hurts, like an electric shock – so asks him to come outside with her. Before he does, Donna asks to have a private word with him. She does not want him hanging out with Talli, who is clearly starting to turn – she can’t go out during the day, she can’t come into their house – and see above re Casey. Chris points out the difference between how Talli is, and how all the other vampires acted. Donna says she likes Talli, but Talli’s vampirism scares her and Chris is the only family Donna has.
They get in her car and drive while they talk. Talli updates him on her new powers: she doesn’t feel temperature, and she can see in the dark perfectly. Chris is freaked out, and it bothers him that Talli’s so calm about these new changes.
Suddenly, Talli slams on the brakes. The car tailspins before hitting a snowbank. Chris faceplants into the dashboard and sees stars.
And finally in chapter 3 we get a counter (these books do quite well to avoid counters): Head injury? Walk it off: 1 (Because a concussion is a mild inconvenience, not a medical situation and it can be cured by grit and determination.)
Talli asks “Did you see that?” and bounds off. Chris tries to follow, but he’s hampered by an inability to see in the dark and a lack of immunity to the cold. He gets lost for a bit before he finally catches up with her – they’re in a cemetery. That’s what Talli saw while she was driving. Not the grave markers, but the light – a kind of green fire – that surrounds the place. Chris, being human, can’t see it. Talli says it’s sort of like the light she sees around people.
Chris is creeped out by that. Then he notices Talli’s crying. She says she doesn’t want to be like Volker, she doesn’t want to be a monster. Chris reaches out to hold hands with her, but reminds her that he’s fragile now, so don’t break him. He says he’ll help her in any way he can.
Then another voice says that they might be of assistance too. Talli tells Chris to avoid the other voice, it belongs to one of Them. The voice clarifies that by “Them” she means vampires, and yes, she’s correct.
Chapter break, but I’ll let them have that – I only score Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!s on Stine because he basically wrote the trope, or anyone else who pulls it in a Stine way (they’re in a grocery store and someone grabs our heroine from behind – you know nobody’s getting murdered in a grocery store in broad daylight in chapter 2. Not in this genre).
Because I can’t be bothered to recap their descriptions, here you go, direct from the book:
The vampire leaned over and brushed the snow from the top of a lichen-stained tombstone, then sat down on it. The tail of his coat hung nearly to his feet, grazing the snow. In Talli’s vision the vampire was cloaked in a swirling glow that pulsated and danced with color. Tendrils of green light reached up from the ground to follow his every movement.
The vampire leaned back and shoved his hands into the pockets of his long trench coat. His face was very narrow and angular, his eyes a smoky gray. Talli thought he looked to be about twenty-five, but she knew from her experiences with Volker and Alex that vampires could look however they wanted.
The other vampire stepped out of the trees. She was tall, with a shaggy cap of dark hair, and eyes that were jet-black even in Talli’s strange new vision. She was very thin, and her movements were loose and almost clumsy. She looked to be no older than Chris and Talli.
These two are Seth and Sky. And I’m already pleased, because I feared that this would be like the last book, where every day we just got an update on how close they were to Westerberg, but we’ve not even finished Monday and here they are.
Seth tells them he’s here to “clean up”. He was looking for a vampire – he thought it was Talli, but having heard her speak, she’s not the one. They suggest Volker. Seth says he reads the papers, and they can’t have a vampire going around killing people.
Chris then asks if vampires are not supposed to kill people. Seth says of course not, a “gold” can maintain themselves quite well, sipping from the “greens”. A green is a human, so called because they have a green light, which is how the vampires can see them at night. A gold is a vampire, so called… because they are vain. (I smirked. This book is winning me back after the boredom of the last one.) Also, they generally don’t like the word “vampire”, it’s generally a derogatory term.
Seth asks where Volker is now, Talli is about to reply when Chris cuts her off, saying Volker is gone, they don’t know where, and shouldn’t Seth be leaving now? Seth says sure, as soon as he’s made sure that Volker really is gone. Also, he needs to fix Talli. He asks her what happened to make her half green, half gold (I’m liking the colours for terms, it makes a nice change from the usual terminology). Again, Chris cuts Talli off, saying Volker did it, but he was interrupted by the police.
Seth’s gray eyes turned to Chris. “Really?” For just a moment Seth’s angular face looked as hard and cold as a marble statue; then he turned back to Talli. “However this occurred, it must be very uncomfortable for you.”
I just had to point out: SMeyer was not the first to compare vampires to marble statues!
[Wing: I don’t know that this author is the first, either. I’d guess that Anne Rice did, and even going back earlier than that. Also, I noticed the author thanked a bunch of other authors in this one, including Laurell K Hamilton, which has left me feeling very unimpressed with this author.]
Seth explains Talli’s situation: she’s too gold to be able to go out in sunlight, but too green to be able to feed. Therefore she can’t get energy back. If they don’t do something, Talli will lose all of her energy and die. In pain.
Seth offers to give Talli some energy. She asks if that would make her more gold, but he says no, not the way he’s planning to do it. Chris is hesitant, but Talli is all for it, and once she has taken the energy, she feels like she can fly, she can see for miles – and Seth cautions her to drive safe, because it can be distracting to drive this way at first.
Once Seth and Sky have left, and Chris and Talli are alone once more, Talli asks why Chris kept answering for her, and why he lied about Volker, Seth seemed to reasonable, and now he’s going to waste time looking for someone who is dead. Chris says good, because if Seth takes care of golds who kill greens, then he almost certainly takes care of greens who kill golds. (Not that they’ve transitioned into this terminology, I just like using it.)
Swap over to Coach Pays, who’s been watching Talli and Chris. He thought maybe it was a drug deal with the other two (Seth and Sky) and they’d been in the woods so long, maybe it had gone bad for Talli and Chris, and he was almost tempted to go and find out in the moments before Talli and Chris reappeared. When they drive off, he follows them. Oh, so in this book, Coach Pays is going to be the Alex part that I don’t care about. Ok.
At school, Chris and Talli talk. She doesn’t 100% trust Seth, but she needs to see him again, because today she’s actually been able to go to school – the sun makes her lethargic, but she feels better in the shade, but that won’t last forever, so she will need the energy he gives. Chris says he’s going to hit the library to read up on ways to fix Talli. Talli can’t go with him because she’s seen the psychiatrist her parents organised for her in book 2. (Sumner, book 2 might have been dull, but I do love your continuity.) Also, I really want her shrink to be Val’s dad (from the Bad Blood series).
Next up, Chris goes to see Donna, who’s been harangued by Coach Pays, who thinks they know more than they let on. He leaves pretty soon after Chris arrives. The guilt of knowing is upsetting Donna, she feels guilty and she’s convinced that they’ll be found guilty of murdering Casey. Chris reassures her that Casey wasn’t Casey when they stabbed her, she was a monster made by Alex. Then Donna turns the tables, if Casey’s a monster, what’s Talli?
During class, Chris can’t concentrate, so he writes down the names of Talli, Casey and Volker on his notepad. Not sure I’d want to do that, given that people are eyeballing him about Casey, and he never actually met Volker. He turns over some things in his mind – wondering if the sunlight could burn the vampire out of her, and leave the human behind; or why silver – do the metal properties conduct vampire energy better, and would copper work instead – and these are interesting ideas. Not many YA books go into the science of vampires.
After school, Lansky is waiting for Chris. Remember how Chris’ parents were murdered? Well, Lansky thinks Chris did it.
Hop over to Talli and her appointment with her psychiatrist, Dr Joanne Aston. She says Talli can call her Joanne or Dr Aston, whichever she is most comfortable with. Talli goes with Joanne, and she’s surprised that she feels comfortable already. So she tells Joanne everything. And I mean everything – no metaphors here, she uses the word “vampire”. (Also, this passage would be handy if you hadn’t read either of the first two books to give you a catch-up.) Joanne says she doesn’t believe in vampires, but she thinks something happened to Talli, something disturbing that made her use vampires as the story. She also brings up that Talli’s mother was concerned about the amount of horror media Talli consumes, and is that the reason she’s seeing vampires in Westerberg. Talli realises she’s been talking for two and a half hours and makes a move to leave. Joanne asks if she’ll be back, Talli says yes, but she has to leave now. She’s starting to feel the hunger.
And we bounce over to Seth and Sky. Sky’s been at the school all day, keeping tabs on Talli and taking a yearbook. Seth says that finally she’s being useful. Also, take care of this while I get dressed. “This” being the corpse of a female student. Guess they’re not the good guys. Shocker. Seths cannot be trusted.
Next up, we have a research chapter, which is a lot less dull in this book. Chris and Donna rule out plenty of legends that don’t tie in with what they’re dealing with – they can cross running water, it’s untested whether religious icons bother them, sunlight is a minor problem, but not the killer that Hollywood implies. Then he finds a book that will make Wing go boom in a good way. He does some reading and decides that she’s not a “vampire”, she’s a shapeshifter – or as Talli would know it from her books/movies: a werewolf. [Wing: I don’t even know what to make of all this. First the tease in book one, now this! And yet still no one in this book turns into a werewolf. Damn it, Sumner. Stop being such a tease.]
“I don’t understand either,” Donna said. “Nobody turned into a wolf.”
“But people did change shapes,” Chris said. He took the book from Talli’s hand and flipped through the pages. “There are stories in here from all over the world. Not just werewolves, but weretigers, werebears, were – just about anything you can think of.”
Just wanna put this out there: Werebears really needs to be a spinoff. Care Bears: After Dark.
[Wing: Just remember, this is all Dove’s fault for making that Care Bears reference: Slave Bear of Care-A-Lot.]
Chris and Talli go to the diner they went to in the last book, and they realise it’s only been a week since their first trip there. Chris tells her that this book makes it seem more like shapeshifters than vampires – the aversion to silver is part of the werewolf lore, and there’s another bonus, vampires are dead, but werewolves are alive, and this means Talli might be able to heal from this.
During this, there’s actually a Racism: business as usual: 1 (If you’re lucky enough to see a person of colour in any of these books, they’ll be stereotyped to the hilt.) count, because Talli says she was never cursed by g**sies, which apparently is part of the werewolf lore as far as they are concerned. Not cool, book.
Chris says he thinks Seth knows more than he’s letting on. Also, internally he notes that Talli has reservations about Seth in the daylight hours, but once night falls, she’s keen to see him again, and she refers to the vampires/shapeshifters/golds as “us”, not “them”.
And then Seth rocks up at the mention of his name. He asks why they were talking about him, Chris says that Seth should be able to help. Not in the giving energy way. However, Talli wants the energy. She kind of goes all soft and subservient at Seth’s arrival.
And then we go to my least favourite bit of any chapter: The Obligatory Coach Pays scene, wherein he watches them, while caressing a gun. He’s eyeballing Seth, Chris and Talli in the diner from his car, when someone walks into the parking lot. It’s Casey. He rushes to her, forgetting his pistol.
Back in the diner, Talli trips balls as she receives the energy from Seth, and afterwards she’s even softer, and asks him if she needs to see him tomorrow. Seth says her capacity is growing, so maybe she won’t need to. Chris keeps the conversation short, and basically propels Talli out the door, while she asks aren’t they going to stay and talk to Seth? She comes across as stoned – either weed or ecstasy, very soft, dreamy, and definitely no longer seeing Seth as a threat. Seth says he’s going to stick around because there’s no evidence that Volker left town. Also, say hi to your sister for me, Chris. Chris tells him to stay away from Donna.
Seth sat with his hands folded in his lap and looked at Chris with his gray eyes. “The families of my friends have nothing to fear, Mr. Delany. Please keep that in mind.”
Yeah. Like that’s not a threat. Talli steps between the boys and encourages Chris to leave with her, because if Seth’s half as scary as Volker, then Chris would be dead if he tried anything. Chris leaves, but pauses at the door, and mutters under his breath – knowing Seth can still hear him – that if Seth fucks with Donna, Chris will show him what he’s learned.
In the car on the way home, Chris is suspicious of Seth, and Talli is completely on his side, saying Seth would never hurt them. Chris asks her not to take any more energy from him until he’s done research, but Talli evades answering. Her parents go out, and she has a strong urge to run around outside naked, since she can’t feel the cold. She manages to shake off that idea, and puts on a shirt and she remembers going to the window, but does not remember anything after. Which is she climbed out of her window, saw Seth in her garden and he offered her Grant Winchell, a fellow drama club bod, for dinner.
Talli reaches out for him and again trips balls as she steals his energy. When her head clears, Grant’s on the ground, his skin grey. He’s not actually dead, but nearly.
When Seth gets home, Sky is at the house with Coach Pays, who’s been drained enough to be slow, dim and barely functioning. Sky reports that he was spying on Talli and Chris, so Seth tells Coach Pays that Chris is the one that killed Casey, and he (Coach) should “get rid” of him. Sky asks why kill him, if they’re leaving anyway. Seth replies that Chris is standing between him and Talli, and Talli belongs with them now.
As usual, Chris and Donna are discussing vampires. And I love the following exchange:
“It’s a shame you said all the stuff in the movies doesn’t mean anything,” she said.
“Why?” Chris asked.
Donna turned into the school parking lot and glided into a slot. “Because,” she said, “I saw a werewolf movie once where someone got cured.”
“You did? How?”
“He killed the guy that made him a werewolf,” she said, “and that broke the curse.”
Chris’s mouth fell open. “You’re right. I’ve seen that in films, too.” He shook his head in wonder. “Sometimes that perfect brain of yours comes in handy.”
Not only is that a good idea, it’s from a great movie from the 80s: The Lost Boys, which the first book in this series had echoes of. I’d love to speak to Sumner and ask him about his influences.
[Wing: I still want to know what werewolf movie Donna watched.]
Donna points out that this plan might be flawed, since Alex remained a vampire after Volker died.
At lunch, there’s no sign of Talli, but Paul Katz, who’s been in both previous books, talks to him. He gives him a hard time, saying that the cops think he killed Casey, and now Grant’s missing. Chris doesn’t know who that is, but Katz says that Talli knows him from drama. He checks in with Donna, but Talli wasn’t in her class either. Then as he’s walking away, a vampire grabs him around the throat and drags him into the locker rooms.
It’s Sky, and she wants to know if Chris can cure Talli. If so, he’d better hurry up because Schelling – that’s Seth’s oldest name, he always makes names up for himself, but that’s the one he’s used the longest – is making his move. She explains that he did come here for Volker, but not to clean up his mess, but to make an ally so that they can hold a city together. Sky’s part of that plan, and it looks like Talli will be too. If he can change Talli back, maybe he can turn Sky too. He suggests they kill Seth, but Sky says he’s too old and experienced to die easily. She tells him to keep working on a plan, but not to tell Talli. She’s been Seth’s errand girl since the moment she took his energy.
And we drop into Coach Pays’ head for a completely pointless scene that reiterates that he’s doing as Seth says, and will kill Chris once he has the word.
Chapter break, and we go over to Talli’s house, where she’s been sleeping, and she wakes up snarling at the sun. She tries to kill a white noisy object several times, before establishing that the white noisy object sounds like Chris. On remembering him, she’s able to function and talk to him on the phone (despite cracking it pretty hardcore).
Despite Sky’s warning, Chris immediately tells Talli about his conversation with Sky, so I’m betting she doesn’t make it to the end of this book. He says he wants to see Talli, but she evades, saying she needs to see her psychiatrist, and doesn’t even want him to drive over there with her.
She goes to see Joanne. Talli meets her receptionist this time, a guy she recognises vaguely, but can’t exactly place, so thinks he must be a bit older. Joanne is quite dressed up in a green dress and a silver necklace as she’s out on a date after work. I’m betting that silver necklace will save her from a sticky situation in a few paragraphs.
Talli and Joanne talk a bit, but don’t get anywhere, because Talli doesn’t want to talk if Joanne doesn’t believe her. Then Bryan, her receptionist barges in. Joanne threatens to fire him, but at that moment the sun sets, and Talli sees their energies: Joanne is a green, Bryan is a gold.
He morphs into Seth and Joanne finally gets to the believing stage. Seth also has comically large fangs for emphasis. I guess these old vampires really find mocking the movies funny, because Volker did that in his reveal in book 1. It’s cute.
Talli asks him to leave Joanne alone, but Seth says that Joanne knows too much. Talli says she’ll do whatever he says, as long as he leaves the townfolk alone. Seth calmly replies that she’ll do anything for him because she’s hungry. And suddenly she is. Ravenously, painfully hungry.
And then Seth takes all of Joanne’s energy, until she’s nothing but bone. Damn, that necklace did fuck all to save her. He passes the energy to Talli, and when she comes down, she notices a green dress on the floor. She thinks it’s pretty, so Seth tells her to take it, but leave the “nasty” silver necklace.
And this is only just Thursday. Chris can’t sleep, so he wakes up Donna at midnight, and they once more discuss the situation. He finally fills her in on the situation with Seth and Sky, and there’s a pounding at the front door. Chris says it’s Them, so Donna fetches the fancy silver knife before they answer the door. Chris takes the knife from her – she protests that she’s tougher than he thinks – but he says that he knows more about the new vampires. And I like this exchange, these two are good characters.
However, it’s actually Lansky at the door with Talli’s dad in tow. Talli didn’t come home. Lansky asks to come in, but Donna says no. Lansky threatens to get a warrant to search their home, but Mr McAlister is the voice of reason, saying they have no cause, and they’ll both be fired for waking a judge up to sign a warrant for no reason.
Afterwards, Donna says part of the reason she didn’t let Lansky in was because she wasn’t dressed, but mostly because you shouldn’t invite a vampire into your home, and she’s working on the assumption that everyone is a vampire.
[Wing: Donna. Making better decisions than anyone else in the book since she turned up.]
Donna heads back to bed, and Chris falls asleep in the kitchen. When morning actually arrives, the power is out. Donna goes to school, but Chris says he’s can’t function at school with Talli missing. Donna gives him a talking to: she likes Talli, and she’d take risks to save her; however, there’s a difference between taking a risk and throwing your life away.
Once she leaves, a guy from the power company rocks up and asks if he can get into their house to fix the power. And I’m sure he’s not a vampire at all, what with Donna saying anyone could be a vampire.
Thankfully, it’s Sky, who points out that Chris was very stupid to let in a stranger. And then tells him about how Seth and Talli ate her shrink – Talli is now “true gold”. She says that at the moment, Talli’s tripping balls and won’t really understand that corpses are bad, she’ll just be thinking the sun shines out of Seth’s golden hole, and will go along with it.
Then we hop over to Talli, who is still sluggish-minded, but physically able. She and Seth get in a car, and he morphs into Chris, then he drives to the police station and parks. Once a police officer (Talli’s dad) walks out of the door, Seth instructs Talli to lean out of the car door and scream. He drags her back in the car, and speeds off. At Talli’s suggestion, they park the car at the school, and get out on foot.
And we end the chapter, with Coach Pays yet again being thrilled to death that he’s going to kill Chris. Sumner, nobody cares about Pays, ok? These interludes, while not as annoying as Alex’s om-nom-nom-road-trip-to-Westerberg, don’t serve any purpose other than to remind us that the Coach exists. I suppose you’ve got to justify that title somehow, haven’t you? [Wing: Well, except that Seth also describes himself as the coach, so it really could reflect on him. Or they could have chosen a different title. I’m guessing they will wrap the story up in a neat little bow using Coach somehow.]
Back at Chris’ house, he and Sky are going through what can hurt a vampire. And the answer is: pretty much anything that can hurt a human, but they’ll heal faster. Some vampires don’t like salt water, rather than holy water. Some wince at silver, some would die from a tiny nick from a silver knife – Sky explains it’s like an allergy, and everyone has different levels.
Chris is just about to explain his thought about silver/salt water being conductors when the police arrive to arrest him for the kidnap of Talli. He’s taken back to the police station and is amazed he wasn’t shot, given big crimes don’t happen in towns as small as Westerberg, and with the disappearances unsolved, everyone’s itchy for justice.
Once in the interrogation room (same one he was in at the start of the book), Lansky starts “screaming” again. (See above for feelings on this.) Then Donna comes in and everyone leaves them alone to talk. Only it’s not Donna, it’s Sky-as-Donna, and he asks if she’s there to bail him out or break him out. She says neither, they’re going to let Chris go.
And that’s true. Talli’s been spotted at school, so she couldn’t have been kidnapped by Chris. I’m assuming Sky ran over to school and got herself seen by people while looking like Talli. So, now Chris and Sky have to kill Seth.
And my favourite bit: Coach Pays has blue balls, because he was just about to kill Chris when the police showed up.
Talli and Seth-as-Chris rock up to see Donna, and ask if they can catch a lift home after drama club. They shuffle to the back of the auditorium and Seth salivates over feeding from Donna. Talli kind of does too, but she starts to recognise that Donna is a friend, not food.
After drama club, Donna asks Seth-as-Chris where he got that sweater, as she doesn’t recognise it. Now I missed putting this in, because it was so in keeping with the previous book, I just thought it was cute continuity. Donna has a photographic memory (as evidenced from her first school scene in the series where she put a gobby student in their place because she had read and memorised everything about everyone), but she always loses her keys. Donna says she doesn’t forget clothing, what is it she forgets? Seth guesses faces, not keys and SUPER DONNA IS ONTO YOU, SCUMBAG SETH. Unfortunately, Super Donna is no match for Scumbag Seth, who grabs her and asks Talli how she feels about having a sister.
Back with Sky and Chris, they come up with a plan: Sky will be Donna, and Chris will pretend he believes she’s Donna, and Seth will believe they’re on his side, at which point Sky kills him.
She looked at him with a flat expression. “That’s your plan?”
Chris shrugged. “You got a better one?”
Sky pursed her lips for a second, then smiled. “I love this plan,” she said. “Let’s go.”
*smirks again* Damn, I was so ready to hate this book, but no, Sumner pulled it back. He just has middle book issues.
[Wing: In a fun twist, I am not really feeling this book, though I do like Sky quite a bit, and still adore Talli, Chris, and Donna.]
Ok, so they’re leaving, and Coach Pays shoots at them, Sky takes a bullet, but heals from it, then they drive to the school, where they’re met by Talli who says come with her or Seth will eat Donna. I’m so glad Coach Pays was in this. I really feel he’s fulfilling an integral part of the story, and it absolutely would not make sense were we to cut his involvement.
They have a showdown at the auditorium, and – and this made me smirk again – Seth-as-Chris gets shot – multiple times – by Coach Pays, who is still questing for vengeance. Seth knocks him out for that.
Sky attacks and gets crushed by Seth for that. I mean that literally, he grabs her by the shoulders and crunches her inward. And damn, I so wanted to be wrong about that. I really wanted Sky to live.
There’s a lot of fisticuffs, during which Chris electrocutes Seth, but doesn’t quite kill him. Then there’s a fakeout where Talli looks evil and says that “You shouldn’t have tried to hurt him,” but obviously, she’s talking to Seth, not about him. Then she knifes Seth right through the throat and he explodes.
And Talli’s no longer a vampire, yay!
OMG, SKY’S ALIVE GUIZ! SHE’S STILL A VAMPIRE, SHE’S JUST ALL BROKEN. GIVE HER SOME FOOD, CHRIS!
Donna’s been out cold for most of the fight, but she wakes up and sees that Chris really is Chris because she recognises his sweater.
Then Lansky walks in. But it’s ok, they’ve pinned it all on Coach Pays. And Sky’s going to go elsewhere, because she doesn’t quite trust herself to stay in control in Westerberg.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Well, that was significantly better than the second one. However, I have a few things I’d like to say:
Coach Pays was completely surplus to need. I feel like he existed only to bridge the two books (which was unnecessary, since plenty of other things bridged it), and to pin the blame on.
The names of the books aren’t exactly perfect. The Principal fits the first book, but the second book isn’t about Hunger (unless we mean Alex’s – and we’re all pretty clear on how boring I found his story), and this book was barely about a coach. I’d suggest renaming 2 and 3 to The Missing and The Hunger respectively.
I really liked Sky, she was a nice addition. But mostly my feeling is thank god this is over. I started this recap weeks ago, and I’ve been working on it non-stop in every free piece of time I’ve had since Friday 3 March. It has taken far too long to do this series.
[Wing: I liked this about as much as I liked the second book, I guess, though I don’t really like it much at all. That ending wrapped everything up just a little too neatly (and left some things hanging; are they still investigating Chris as a potential suspect in his parents’ murders?), and overall, I thought the pacing was really off. Probably should have sped up the last book and slowed this one down a little for better balance. Also interesting that this book had a ton of research, too, but it wasn’t dragged out the way it was in the last book.]
Head injury? Walk it off: 1
Racism: business as usual: 1
That ending seemed abrupt and easy. Shouldn’t it have taken longer to defeat a vampire that managed to survive for that many years? And why did killing him work but killing Volker didn’t? And why didn’t Sky turn back? Are they trying to say that Seth MADE Talli because he turned her full gold and that’s why she turned back? Damn it, Sumner, I need info. How am I supposed to go on with my life now?
It is very rushed and too simple. I think killing him turning Talli back is less about him making Talli and more about her being next to him to absorb his gold something something something Sumner didn’t actually have a good answer for this so handwaved it all.