Sweet Blood of Mine (Overworld Chronicles, #1)

Sweet Blood of Mine (Overworld Chronicles, #1) - John Corwin I admit it took me some time to wrap my mind around the idea of a protagonist called 'Justin Case'... yes, yes, I know, it's a pun, I'm just not too fond of puns on characters' names. Anyway, I managed to get over it after a while, and since I had never read anything by John Corwin before, I had no strong bias towards this book, which is always a good thing. Besides, the plot summary seemed interesting, and I always like to see male perspectives in such stories.

There were moments I smiled and chuckled, because the author's packed his story with references to various 'geeky' elements—and I'm a glutton for cameos of all sorts. (I'm positive I even saw a Wheel of Time reference in there, about one of the very things that made me roll my eyes at the original books.) This all fits pretty well with the 'nerd hero' theme, and I appreciated that John Corwin made him think and react along such lines, because I feel it's precisely the kind of comparisons and thoughts that'd come to Justin's mind. And although there were moments, too, when Justin veered a little too much on self-pitying (I guess it's no wonder, given what a train wreck his life has become), fortunately he regularly catches himself up and decides to act and keep his head high (and his sense of humour going) no matter what.

I enjoyed a lot of the characters, even secondary ones. The boys from the Goth gang, who even when things got tight in their group still stuck with Justin and didn't just stop talking to him (which is something that could've happened in 'high school politics', from what I've already witnessed in real life). Elyssa, who was able to hold out her hand to someone who's been trampled on, and to do it again in spite of the odds, and let's not forget that she's quite badass. Stacey, too, with her quirks and manners, not so much the evil character she could become, and pretty touching in her own ways. Well, alright, I didn't care much for the average pupils at school (Katie and her friends were annoying), but this is probably on purpose—this is not where Justin's true friends are meant to be.

I also liked the Overworld developed here. At the end of this first installment, we are far from knowing everything about it, but enough already has been revealed for readers to realize that there is strong support underneath to carry the plot. Vampires, for instance, aren't just here looking cool, they have their own society, with their own politics and dissenssions. Same goes for sorcerers, and, I'm sure, other supernatural factions.

However, there are a couple of things I liked less in the book were, first, that the story seemed to drag a little around the middle—the hardest part in every book, in my opinion. It picked up again in the last third, and the end was great, but that middle part wasn't so fun to read. The second thing was some aspects of the 'nerd community', and the corruption going on with football at school. It seemed to me like there was too much of a collection of clichés (fat geeks, rejected at school, you can't be popular if you play LARPs, etc), and the teachers' and administration's attitude towards Justin and his friends was bordering on unbelievable (at least, the way it was shown made it appear so; I don't doubt that such biases do exist in many places, though).

Other than that, I really enjoyed "Sweet Blood of Mine", and will likely pick up the next novel in line.