Vampires are extremely nostalgic for me. So when I saw Youngblood first come across my page, I knew I had to read it. What I loved about Youngblood is that it balances a mysterious vampire story with conspiracy theories and a queer romance swoon. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Kat Finn and her mother can barely make ends meet living among humans. Like all vampires, they must drink Hema, an expensive synthetic blood substitute, to survive, as nearly all of humanity has been infected by a virus that’s fatal to vampires. Kat isn’t looking forward to an immortal life of barely scraping by, but when she learns she’s been accepted to the Harcote School, a prestigious prep school that’s secretly vampires-only, she knows her fortune is about to change.
Taylor Sanger has grown up in the wealthy vampire world, but she’s tired of its backward, conservative values—especially when it comes to sexuality, since she’s an out-and-proud lesbian. She only has to suffer through a two more years of Harcote before she’s free. But when she discovers her new roommate is Kat Finn, she’s horrified. Because she and Kat used to be best friends, a long time ago, and it didn’t end well.
When Taylor stumbles upon the dead body of a vampire, and Kat makes a shocking discovery in the school’s archives, the two realize that there are deep secrets at Harcote—secrets that link them to the most powerful figures in Vampirdom and to the synthetic blood they all rely on.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
(I did want to issue a disclaimer about the racism in the book, specifically regarding a biracial character who talks about the colonial relationship between the parents)
Youngblood is a story that balances a whole list of elements: queer romance, vampire society, political upheavals, elite boarding school, and conspiracy theories. And it manages to combine it into a book that delivers characters who are complex and endearing with a mystery plot which will keep you on your toes. This dual POV story begins with us getting to know the elite vampire society. Through Kat’s perspective, she’s trying to unravel the mystery of why her mother doesn’t want her to go to boarding school. All while figuring out her own place as someone who was always on the outside.
Whereas for Taylor, she’s been in this society for so long – and an outsider in her own way – but hasn’t made the leap. Is still judging and witnessing from the sidelines. However, she’s all too ready to watch them all burn around her, she just needs the right push. In Youngblood, both Taylor and Kat have to navigate their feelings for each other, what it means to be a vampire, and their own future. It’s a book that examines class within a vampire society.
How even if we can live forever – what does that mean to our lives? Not everyone who’s a vampire is rich or glamorous. So what does it mean for vampires of color, queer vampires, poor vampires? I loved that Youngblood seems to begin with this question and only develop it further. As the book continues, Youngblood examines what it means to be a vampire and what their future is. Like with many questions about the future, how will the essence of who we are change, our values and our traditions.
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There are layers of mystery as we witness Kat figuring out her past and what is lying, rotting, at the heart of vampire society. Because with these long founded institutions, change can come slowly – or never at all. And there’s always plenty of skeletons in the closet. Find Youngblood on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.