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The Tear Collector Puts a Different Spin on the Vampire Legend

November 26, 2009

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones
published by Walker Books for Young Readers September 1, 2009

Cassandra Gray is a popular and successful high school student, and in many ways, she seems like the perfect girl to have as a best friend. When adolescent drama rages around her, Cassandra offers a shoulder to lean on. She helped establish the school’s peer counseling program. She volunteers at the hospital, helping people in crisis. She has also created a bit of drama herself, dating a string of popular boys, letting them fall in love with her and breaking their hearts.

What no one knows is that Cassandra is not human. She is a vampire, but not one who thirsts for blood. She and her family need human tears in order to survive. Every time a patient or fellow student weeps on her shoulder, she draws energy and sustenance. But as time goes on, she wonders what it is like to be human, to feel genuine emotions, and to fall in love. When she meets Scott, a kind, intelligent boy with striking green eyes, these experiences seem closer than she’d imagined. But how will she break away from her family’s control?

The Tear Collector offers a new twist on vampire lore, bringing something unique to the wildly popular paranormal romance genre. I was intrigued by the premise, and I really wanted to like this book. The author strewed some interesting ideas throughout the novel, alluding to the nature of good and evil, questions about the existence of God, evolution, and what it truly means to be human. However, I never saw these elements developed or woven together; they seemed like loose strands draped around a trivial story.

The dialogue seemed stilted; I wasn’t able to suspend disbelief and imagine I was listening to real people.  The dialogue moves a scene forward but does not bring it to life. I just feel like I’m reading dialogue.

The characters struck me as one-dimensional: jocks, goths, freaks, and selfish, manipulative cheerleaders. And although I liked Scott’s character, and at times I identified with Cassandra, that was not enough to make this story work for me.

The author seems interesting and imaginative, and I am definitely open to reading more of his work. And while this novel wasn’t for me, I think it might appeal to other readers, particularly those who enjoy urban fantasy. For a more positive reaction, check out this review at La Femme Readers. For more information on this book, and a wealth of other reviews, including many positive ones, see: http://www.tearcollector.com/

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