Author: Kate Evangelista
Read Date: 30 April 2012
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Advice: Read this while munching on some pork cracklings! *insert evil The Count laughter here*
At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.
When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.
One of the things that I look for in romance stories, especially when they decide to go down Love Triangle Lane, is a certain amount of uncertainty about the story’s One True Pairing (OTP). It doesn’t matter if there seems to already be a fated OTP (see Korean drama “The Moon That Embraces The Sun”); what’s fun for me is watching the second lead be his awesome self enough for me to re-think which team I want to be on. I hate it when writers make the second lead despicable or strangely unattractive just to steer us towards the direction of the main hero. I want to be able to choose who to root for. Occasionally, I even want to be able to chastise the heroine and tell her “I told you so.”
I mention this because it’s one of the things I liked about Kate Evangelista’s new YA novel, “Taste.” The two heroes who are vying for Phoenix’s heart are equally attractive, yet any girl could likewise conceivably have doubts about them both. The OTP eventually becomes obvious as we go further into the story, of course, but the second lead remains a worthy choice.
Kate Evangelista created a vivid world and detailed mythology for “Taste” that seems both fresh and familiar. I’m sure that when readers start to talk about the primary conceit of the book—what the Night Students like Demitri and Luka turn out to be—there will be numerous invocations of certain popular YA titles and how those have also re-invented particular mythologies.
If I sound like I’m skirting this Creature Issue, I apologize. I don’t want to spoil that revelation for other readers because it’s fun to see all the guesses that are floating around in Goodreads, Twitter, and book blogs. Apparently, vampires are leading the survey. *chuckles* As for me, I’ll just say that I didn’t see it coming. I suspected in the beginning that maybe Ms. Evangelista invented a totally new supernatural creature, but apparently not. So yeah, it’s certainly a fascinating twist, although, to be honest, I’m not sure if everyone is going to drink this mythological Kool-Aid.
While I like Phoenix’s courage and inquisitiveness and Demitri’s intensity, it was Luka and the secondary characters like his sister Yana, and Demitri’s younger brother Dray, who captivated me. Their personal stories and their motivations make them easy to root for.
Overall, “Taste” is an entertaining read that will appeal to fans of paranormal YA romance. I look forward to seeing what other stories Ms. Evangelista has in store for us.
p.s. Filipino readers should keep their eyes peeled for a Pinoy reference in the story! (Oh, great. Now, I’m hungry.)
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Disclosure: This review is based on an ARC provided by Kate Evangelista.