Book Review: The Becoming
Anna Strong was just doing her job — as a bounty hunter she was used to unsavory characters — but she didn’t expect the one she was tailing to be a vampire. She also didn’t expect to be turned into one either. Before I say anything else, I feel compelled to warn you: if you’re looking for the over-emotional, puppy-dog-eyed wuss of a vampire, look elsewhere. However, if you want a strong female lead who will take matters into her own hands, then this is the book (and series) for you.
I have to admit that I had been getting a bit worn out on vampire stories; it seems like modern media has recently made them too glamorous and have almost de-fanged the genre as a whole. The Becoming is a nice change of pace from this trend, while still taking on some of the more recent trends in vampire lore. While a stake to the heart or a decapitation will still kill them, Ms. Stein’s vampires have evolved over the centuries so that they too can walk in the daylight. Before you start squirming, don’t worry, they don’t sparkle or show up in mirrors. I must applaud the Anna Strong Chronicles for re-envisioning vampires without taking away their bite, or what makes them vampires.
Anna doesn’t lose her soul once she loses her reflection; she’s still Anna who cares about the things Anna cares about and, more importantly, cares for the same people she cared about before — which is the central issue of The Becoming. Anna must come to terms with what she is, all while looking for her best friend and bounty hunter partner, who mysteriously goes missing shortly after she is turned. By what seems like some kind a miracle, a friendly doctor who treats her shortly after her tussle with Donaldson is also a vampire and is there to help her transition from what she was to what she is becoming.
I very much liked the pacing of this story. From start to finish it takes place over a matter of days rather than months or even years. The reader discovers what it means to be a modern vampire just as Anna does, and in that way experiences the rollercoaster of emotions right along with her. I think The Becoming is a nice change of perspective in that, rather than seeing vampires through the eyes of the old (i.e., True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Dracula, Lestat, Count Saint-Germain, etc), we’re seeing them through the eyes of a freshly made vampire. We’re coping as Anna is with her worries, fears, and desires, and I found myself questioning a few times how I would handle her situation. I love any book that makes me really concerned for what that character is thinking and feeling and makes me want to really get in their heads.
For proclaiming rather loudly that I was over vampires, I could barely put the book down (and was even late back from lunch a couple times so that I could reach the end of whatever section I was on). I will without a doubt be reading the rest of this series, as I am interested in the new perspective that Anna Strong brings to vampire literature. This is a book for long-time vampire fans as well as those who might just now be interested in stepping into the world of the modern vampire for the first time. I wanted to save my one and only complaint for last: I did find that overall it was a tad predictable, but I wouldn’t let that discourage you from reading it; it more than makes up for it, and a series has to start somewhere.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars