Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan

Genre: YA contemporary/ romance/ LGBT
Pages: 240 (hardcover)
Published: March 2011 by Scholastic
Recommended for: anyone who thinks a funny coming-of-age-type romance (of both straight and gay varieties) sounds like their thing

One of the strangest (and funniest) love triangles ever to hit YA fiction, when a pair of twins (one boy, one girl) both fall for the boy who moves in with them…who may or may not be a vampire.
Judy and Kyle Renneker are sixteen-year-old fraternal twins in a rambling family of nine. They have a prickly history with each other and are, at least from Judy's perspective, constantly in fierce competition. Kyle has recently come out of the closet to his family and feels he might never know what it's like to date a guy. Judy, who has a history of pretending to be something she isn't in order to get what she wants, is pretending to be born-again in order to land a boyfriend who heads his own bible study.

When their parents announce that the family is going to be taking in a fellow student for a month so that he can finish the school year before moving away, both Kyle and Judy can't help but sit up and take notice. Garret Johnson, who is taking temporary residence in the newly finished attic, is a young man who moved into town less than a year ago and who is a mysterious, goth loner . . . and claims to be a vampire. He's not an easy person to get to know by any means, but the twins find him (to varying degrees) both strange and alluring.

My Take:

DISCLAIMER: Gemini Bites is NOT a paranormal romance.  The token description seems to be: a teenage vampire moves in with a set of dysfunctional twins and a love triangle ensues.  In actuality, readers will find admittedly few sparkling vampires within these pages.  But the book more than makes up for its somewhat misleading synopsis with a slew of hilarious one-liners and lovable characters.  The love triangle (er, love quadrilateral) is as funny as it is somewhat bizarre, and the sheer randomness of the goings-on in Gemini Bites kept me hooked from the first page to the last.    

Garret Johnson, the alleged vampire who moves into twins Kyle and Judys' attic, is a very interesting enigmatic stranger, as we can gather immediately from his initial introduction of himself: 'The name's Garret.  As opposed to garrote, the device one might use to strangle a person.'  Yeah.  And he just gets delightfully weirder from then on out.  Though Kyle initially worries that Garret might want to suck his blood some night and Judy is very preoccupied with snagging her newest crush by pretending to be a devout Christian (it's kind of a long story), both of the twins begin to develop romantic interest in Garret, who is as charming as he is maddeningly evasive about his own past.  We're purposely left in the dark about whether Garret's gay or straight, and the twins-- who are constantly in competition-- battle it out, each vying for the attention of their eccentric new house-mate. 

The novel switches points of view every chapter, letting us into both Judy and Kyle's heads.  I have to say I liked Kyle's chapters much better, mainly because Judy is incredibly conniving and often cruel, always lying to get her way, even though she's justified in her own mind.  Kyle is the opposite: self-demeaning and hilarious and obsessed with the music of Bob Dylan. (Go figure.)  Judy's best friend Sasha, a lovable 'dumb brunette' was by far the best secondary character, but it was also impossible for me not to snort with laughter when reading about Coover, Kyle's classmate who started the rumors of Garret's vampiric nature in the first place and decides to make a step toward ridding the world of evil, Mr. Pointy-style.  (Five points to your house if you got the Buffy reference.)

This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious and I loved how it handled LGBT: Kyle's family is so okay with his being gay (with nine in the family, they could barely give his coming out the time of day), and he certainly isn't the stereotypical sassy-gay-friend who we sometimes see in YA books.  All the characters and the storylines (weird as they sound in summary) are very believable, and the happy ending ties up every possible end of this darn good yarn.  My one complaint is that hardcover Gemini Bites costs about 18 US dollars in chain stores and $14 on Amazon.  On Amazon?!  This is a skinny, 240 page book and I read it in one sitting.  Considering you can buy books three times that size for a few dollars less online, I think that is nothing short of ridiculous.  But I'm no expert on pricing (though I am an expert on book-buying ;).  What do you guys think?

Cover: 3/5
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5 
*Thanks to Good Golly Miss Holly ARC Tours for the review copy* 


Shooting Stars Mag said...

nice review. i loved this one too. And Kyle really did have the best chapters. But overall, a fun read. :)

-Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

Teisha said...

Hello, Miss Kat. I read your comment on Mr. Alexander's blog,as I am fixing to send him an electronic copy of DAWN, my stunning debut, and I see that you and I have similar views on modern literature. I have started following your blog, and am wondering when you will have the chance to read through DAWN and put up a review?
Kisses in advance! (Love the blog, btw!!)

Carissa said...

Great review, Kat! I had heard that this was a different sort of read and after reading your review I can't wait to get a copy of this!

Kat said...

@Teisha-- Actually, I was largely being sarcastic when I commented on Alex's Future Favorites post. I'm also anticipating many of the books he spotlighted.

Literature is a fine place for violence and immorality, in my opinion, because these themes can help us to see the errors of humankind's ways in a way no other medium can. That is the whole purpose of dystopia fiction, is it not?

Kat said...

@Shooting Stars-- Yes, I found myself wishing the whole book was written from Kyle's POV. But in the end, Judy wasn't so horrible. Glad you enjoyed the read. :)

@Carissa-- It *is* different, in a very refreshing kind of way. Hope you have a chance to pick up a copy! :)

jweich said...

This sounds really good. I am going to add it to my "books to read" list. Your review is excellent!

Kat said...

@jweich-- Thank you! *hugs* I'm just about to read Water for Elephants, so I'll let you know what I think!

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