Monday, December 05, 2011

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Ciara Griffin comes from a family of con artists, at the top of her game up until she decided to live straight and get a real job. Desperate for a summer internship so she can complete College, Ciara manages to land a position at local radio station WMMP. Broadcasting syndicated talk shows and paid programs during the day, it's only at night when the station truly "comes alive," when a group of eccentric DJs play music from the forties through to the nineties. Not only do they know their genres inside out, they seem to fully embrace the time in which the music was released, using lingo and dressing accordingly, as if they were scooped out of that time period into the present day.

Which is essentially the case. You see, every DJ is in fact a vampire, stuck forever within the cultural time period in which they were turned. Aside from following standard vampire conventions regarding sunlight, crosses, etc, these bloodsuckers also have great difficulty in dealing with the modern world. So WMMP is a perfect fit; they can be anchored in the present, while essentially remaining in the time period in which they are most comfortable.

They keep to themselves and no one is the wiser. But that all changes with the arrival of Ciara. Discovering their secret and thinking it all a joke (and that they're perhaps a little crazy), she considers leaving, but soon questions her decision after becoming involved with grunge-era vampire DJ Shane McAllister.

After WMMP is threatened by a corporate takeover, Ciara rallies behind the vampires, and heads up a campaign to keep the station as-is. Deciding to bring them out into the open and fully into the present, she re-brands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll," using the very real vampires as part of a marketing gimmick promoting fake "vampire" DJs -- her biggest con to date. But not everyone is impressed with the idea, including a local sect of ancient vampires, as well as The Control, an international organization responsible for managing the vampire population.

Wicked Game is overall a good read, with a solid mix of blood, violence, sex and Rock 'n' Roll. Vampires aren't the most evil beasts in this story; that role is played by the giant communications company looking to buy out the small, independent station. Certainly an odd scenario on which to base a vampire novel, but it is indeed timely, with hundreds of radio stations across the country being swallowed up and revamped to play the same generic corporate music with the same generic DJs.

But author Jeri Smith-Ready manages to make it all work. It's a "similar but different" take on vampires, and has a cast of interesting characters. Although it suffered from a few occasional lulls in the story, those interested in urban fantasy will most likely find this one to be a page-turner.

4 out of 5

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141655176X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416551768

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    Monday, December 05, 2011