Review of “Insatiable” by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot climbs aboard the vampire love train with her “Insatiable Series” starring cute pixie-ish Meena Harper (irresistible to both vampires and vampire-trackers); tall, dark and handsome vampire Lucien Antonescu (from Romania, of course); and tall, blonde and handsome vampire-tracker Alaric Wulf. (Note the name Alaric WULF presumably suggests that the character is meant to fill the usual werewolf role in these paranormal love triangles, while the name Meena Harper is of course a play on Mina Harker, the heroine of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.) Cabot stocks her story full of meta references like this, including hat-tips to Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer.

What struck me the most about this book, however, was not the parallels to other paranormal books as much as the many similarities to the chick lit genre. According to Stephanie Harzewski’s study, Chicklit and Postfeminism, characteristic elements of this genre include a twenty- or thirtysomething, white, middle- or upper-middle-class, never-married, childless, urban, heterosexual career woman engaged in a seriocomic romantic quest or dating spree. In addition, the heroine works in journalism, publishing, or other media; in spite of a frenetic work pace she experiences workplace obstacles; she is “quirky” or “creative”; she is hyper-aware of body size and caloric intake; and she places a great deal of importance on fashion and having the right (albeit beyond-her-budget) dresses, purses, and shoes.

Sounds pretty much like Meena Harper to me! Meena is a dialogue-writer for a daytime soap that happens to want to add a vampire theme to the mix. Her hectic days don’t preclude her daydreaming about a $5,000 Marc Jacobs tote that ‘would perfectly round out [her] wardrobe.” And of course, she wouldn’t mind a romance either.

As for Meena’s “quirkiness” however, it is different than the usual chick lit heroine’s in that it strays into the paranormal: Meena happens to have an ability to see how people are going to die (unless, that is, they heed her warnings and avoid the precipitating event). This trait makes her, analogously to Sookie Stackhouse, irresistible to vampires, who love to see something new under the sun (metaphorically speaking). The similarity to Sookie doesn’t end there; Meena’s brother Jon is a metaphorically spitting image of Sookie’s brother Jason. Lots of metaphors in this book, and even meta metaphors.

The book is plenty cheesy, but not totally so (and many reviewers believe that the cheesiness is actually tongue-in-cheek cheesiness, and therefore doesn’t count as cheesiness). There are some very likeable characters, such as Meena’s next door neighbors, some very funny passages, and readers will be happy that they can opt for Team Lucien or Team Alaric, since teaming up over love triangles seems to be a popular activity these days.

Some of the dialogue is just awful, such as what ensues when Alaric, the vampire tracker, tries to explain to a woman he is “rescuing” from a vampire that she isn’t experiencing “love”; rather, it is only dopamine, a neurotransmitter activated because of the excitement of being with ‘a creature of the night’:

“‘How dare you?’ Sarah demanded hotly. ‘It isn’t dopa…whatever! It’s love! Love!

And if you think that sounds dumb, Alaric’s reaction is even dumber:

“Alaric wanted to argue. Vampires were incapable of love – human love – because they didn’t have hearts. Well, technically, he supposed they possessed hearts, since that’s what he had to stab a stake into in order to kill them. But their hearts didn’t pump blood or beat. So how could they feel love, much less return it?”

Oh, Alaric. Is any grown-up really that dumb to think that “love” comes from the blood-pumping muscle in the chest? I suppose you think those chalky candy hearts on Valentine’s Day are real too!

But the winner of the questionable writing is this passage, when Meena is thinking back on her previous evening’s “close encounter” with Lucien:

“…instead of writing, she could only sit there and … recall the paths those strangely cool lips had traced across her skin as he’d dragged his mouth from her high round breasts, to her rib cage, to the soft curve of her belly… “

Right! I know we all think about our high, round breasts! Well, ahem, I never have been able to, but I’m sure all of you out there with high, round breasts generally tend to think of yourself as having high, round breasts when you think about such things…. (One can only admire the author’s restraint in not using the word “perky”….)

Evaluation: This book is diverting, and not a bad example of the combination of its two genres. It will especially appeal to chick lit fans who might like a little paranormal spice added to the usual isn’t-it-getting-old-by-now formula.

Rating: 3/5

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2010

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13 Responses to Review of “Insatiable” by Meg Cabot

  1. zibilee says:

    I loved this review, but don’t think that this book is for me. There are just too many things that would niggle me about this one, and although I love the meta-vampire stuff, I don’t think that this book and I would get along. Perhaps it’s because I have never been a fan of chicklit. But like I said before, I adored this review!

  2. Julie P. says:

    Hmmmmm…. Not sure how I would feel about this one.

  3. Barbara says:

    When I saw the word vampire, I thought about going on to the next blog, but remembered in time that your reviews are well worth reading even if I wouldn’t ever in ten thousand years read the book. Your review is funny and educational all at the same time. Actually I was expecting the author would have written “perky breasts” but the quote was hilarious. God, what kind of life are these people leading, or dreaming. Or maybe they’re smoking something funny!

  4. Beth S. says:

    Wow yeah, that is some pretty lame dialogue. Perhaps I won’t be reading this one after all.

  5. Margot says:

    Oh yes, I’ll skip this one but your review was fun to read, as always.

  6. Jenny says:

    Why do more people have to continue jumping on the vampire love train? Isn’t that train done yet? Isn’t that train becoming derailed and falling off the tracks yet? Because I need for that to happen so that I can enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer again.

  7. Sounds sort of fun if I really need a distraction. This isn’t really my genre to begin with, though, so I probably wouldn’t get most of the random references.

  8. I don’t normallyn read paranormal or chick lit books, but I was very entertained by the two Meena Harper books, tongue in cheek humor and all. Just sorry that the series seems to end with the number two!
    Book Dilettante

  9. Belle Wong says:

    I’m very much in the tongue-in-cheek camp with this one – I remember thinking Cabot was having a lot of fun with the whole vampire trend in writing this (when she wasn’t very firmly making the point that a guy who wants to control your entire life isn’t really a good thing, even if he does happen to be an incredibly hot rich prince). But then again, I’ve always been a big Cabot fan! I have the next in the series waiting for me right now at the library.

  10. Jenners says:

    Hmmm…high round breasts. Never had ’em. Now if she was thinking about saggy, hangy ones, I’m right there.

  11. Darlene says:

    Ok, I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up after all. As for the high, round breasts – oh I think about them – thinking I wish I had a pair. LOL. Great review Jill!

  12. Alyce says:

    Hahaha! Your commentary on her close encounter was great!

  13. Ti says:

    I am surprised that vampire books are still “in” with the young crowd. Maybe it’s because there seems to be so much sex and/or sexual tension in vamp books.

    High, round breasts. Bwhahaha! That got a chuckle out of me.

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