Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: Still Sucks to Be Me


Kim Pauley is back and so is new vampire Mina Hamilton Smith in the new (as in as of today new) book "Still Sucks to Be Me".

This book is of course a sequel to her Freshman attempt, Sucks to be Me. StbM was a great book. It surprised me how quickly the characters grabbed me and how I wanted to know all about them. You can read my review (linked) and then read this one. This review will assume that you have read StbM, so if you haven't then here there be spoilers….




Ready? Great.
Ok "Still Sucks" starts off not too long after Mina's conversion and her "funeral". No. She did not get to go. So deaths faked, names changed the Vampire Council relocates them to Louisiana. Not somewhere cool like New Orleans or even Bon Temps, no they end up in a one-stoplight town so Mina's dad (now called her brother) can study with this ancient vampire historian. Very nice for him, terrible for Mina.

Mina discovers that vampire powers not withstanding she is now, again, an outsider at her new school. Sure she is the "New Girl from California" but that doesn't help when the local school jock takes and interest in her and not in the girl that wants him.

Kim Pauley does a great job of juxtaposing Mina-as-a-vampire with Mina-as-a-teenager-in-a-new-school very well. Yes, Mina can easily overpower or glamour anyone in the school to get what she wants, and she knows it, but she doesn't. Of course life is made more difficult by the arrival of Cameron, a new vampire who is cute and smells nice, who may or may not be a Black Talon. Plus she has not heard from her best friend Serena (with whom she broke like a zillion laws to keep in contact with) or her boy-friend George since getting to Nowhere, LA. Yeah. Life, or Unlife can suck like that.

Kim gives us another great tale that in many ways mirrors the first. In the first book Mina's school life was finally going good and it was her vampire life that needed all the work. No her vampire life unlife is going as well as can be expected (she is even learning to glamour and shape-change) her school life is a chaotic mess.

What I liked most about this book was the ending. It was a reminder that we are dealing with vampires here. Not sparkly guys with bad orthodontic work that talk about their feelings all night, but some pretty nasty characters that not only can, but want to kill people. I'd love to see Kim try her hand, even if for a short story, something a bit darker. I bet she would do well.

Now there are a few caveats here. Yes, this book is aimed at the Young Adult crowd and my blog isn't. So if you pick up this book (and I would like it if you did) then keep that in mind. There is a lot of "Teen Girl Angst" here, but not as much as you might suspect given it is about teen girls and teen vampires. There is angst, but a lot of it is not the "my life is miserable teenage sort but of the "OMG this crazy chick is trying to kill my best friend!" sort.

I don't know if there are future books in store, but I hope so. I'd like to see how a college bound Mina reacts to situations. Or maybe she could tour Europe or something. Either way I can see a lot of adventure ahead for Mina and her friends.

Like I said of her first book, this is a good, well-written book with characters that a likable that relatable. I liked the new aspect to Mina's parents' lives unlives. I did miss seeing more of Uncle Mortie, but hey, it's not his book. The Black Talons were interesting, what little we got to learn of them and so were the Carters.

Using Mina in your Games

Of course it is very tempting to use Mina in a game. And since I tend to give in to temptation, here we go!

Cinematic Unisystem (Ghosts of Albion/Angel/Buffy)



Mina Smith (Apprentice level in Ghosts of Albion)
Life Points 44
Drama Points 15

Attributes
Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Constitution 4
Intelligence 3
Perception 5
Willpower 4

Qualities
Attractiveness +1
Hard to Kill 2
Fast Reaction Time
Situational Awareness
Vampire (Ghosts of Albion type)
- Glamour (note: this is shape shift ability from the book) 1
- Mesmerize (note: this is the glamour ability from the book) 1
- Sunlight Immunity (part of the Vampire package in this world. They do not burn up, but it is uncomfortable and they try to avoid it.)

Drawbacks 
Adversary (Black Talons, anti-vampire groups)
Honorable 1
Love (George?)
Teenager (from Buffy/Angel)


Useful Information
Actions 1
Perception 1d10 + 8

Skills
Acrobatics 2
Art (writing) 2
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 1
Influence 2
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 1
Languages 1 (English)
Notice 3
Occultism 3
Science 1
Sports 1

Witch Girls Adventures
Mina Smith, Vampire
Rank: 2

Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d6
Will: d6 Social: d6 Magic: d8

Life Points: 12 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 11 Zap Points: 16

Skills: Athletics +2, Basics +2, Fighting +1, Hear +2, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +1, Mythology +1, Streetwise +2

Abilities: Brave, Friendly
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities



Links
http://community.wizards.com/bookclub/blog/2010/05/11/five_tips_for_writing_funny_fiction
http://www.amazon.com/Still-Sucks-Be-Me-Confessions/dp/0786955031 

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