TITLE: The Radleys: A Novel
AUTHOR: Matt Haig
INFO: Hardcover, Fiction, 370 pages
PUBLISHED: Free Press, 2010
HOW I GOT IT: Received from Publisher for Review
FROM GOODREADS: Meet the Radleys...
Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret.
From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.
MY TAKE: This is a fun read that just happens to be about a family of vampires. With the major outpouring of vampire novels currently out and in the works, The Radleys was a refreshing change of pace for me. It was definitely a character driven story with several interesting plot twists that keep the story moving forward.
Matt Haig has created an average and endearing family in the Radleys - they just happen to have a few more secrets than the rest of us. Peter is the head of the family. He's middle aged and feels he's in a rut ~ in his marriage and his professional life as a small town doctor. Helen runs her household well, but dreams of a man she can't have and a life she left behind. Rowan is a teenager with more than his fair share of trials and tribulations - he's pale, always itchy with a rash and considered a freak by his schoolmates. Clara is also unpopular at school and on top of that is trying to become a vegan. She can't understand why her parents (and her own body) are fighting her so strongly about it.
As we follow this normal-seeming family, the real story starts to unfold. A tragedy occurs which brings to light the fact that the Radleys are vampires hiding in a small, unsuspecting English town. This is a severe shock to Rowan and Clara, especially when they also suddenly meet their uncle Will, a man neither knew existed. He is the key to several of the problems facing the family and plays a pivotal role in what transpires.
There were several times when I found myself laughing out loud. This book was a lovely departure from the current vampire books on the market. It was centered on the family, not the blood-sucking issue. I really liked that the Radleys had a battered copy of "The Abstainer's Handbook" which gave them such gems as "If blood is the answer, you're asking the wrong questions." It is essentially an instruction manual for vampires who choose to not drink blood.
Enjoyable and fun read. I need to mention though, this isn't really a tween book. Although it's being marketed as YA, I think it was intended for an older audience due to some of the sexual tones as well as quite a bit of swearing. More mature teens would be fine with it.