Taste - Kate Evangelista (Book provided by the author through ARR #32 in the We ♥ YA Books! group, in exchange for an honest review.)

Alright, first, I appreciated that there weren't any vampires in this book. This might not ring a bell to every reader, far from it, but the "prestigious academy with day students and night students" is something I had already read about in a manga (Vampire Knight); it would've been too bad if "Taste" had been about 'mere' vampires in that regard, and I much preferred the flesh-eating approach than the bloodsucking one. One good point for Kate Evangelista here.

This book was a nice read, compelling and well-paced enough for me to read it in a breeze. I especially liked its take on 'zombies': not undead, brain-eating monsters, but a civilisation of flesh-consuming human-looking beings, with thoughts and feelings of their own, but who had to turn away from their natural food sources due to specific reasons, and whose survival is quite the conundrum now. Their laws and way of living had a tight, enclosed feeling that mirrored the abstinence they had to inflict upon themselves, and of course it made sense that sooner or later, all of this would rot and fester, and lead to conflict. The scientific twist brought in all that was also a nice add-on: not too complex for a non-scientific to understand, but believable.

I liked the male cast overall. Demitri's and Luka's classical archetypes opposition worked well, and their hidden pains gave them depth; Dray was touching in his own ways, with his mad scientist antics walking hand in hand with deep love and caring for his people, and a genuine desire to help; and Darius's personality seriously made me grin, especially after a certain description Phoenix made of him. What I appreciated less was the love triangle: the two boys seemed to have equal chances at getting the girl, but Luka's interest felt somewhat forced—he gave more vibes of 'naturally a good friend' than 'love interest'.

On the other hand, I really, really didn't like Phoenix. At all. I found her tremendously annoying, whiny, bitchy, and not so clever for someone supposed to have a high IQ/study at a prestigious academy for talented youth. Granted, she was brave... although I often wondered if this was bravery or sheer stupidity on her part. Her childish reactions spelled 'catastrophe in the making' from beginning to end; it's a wonder she managed to stay alive at all (poor Demitri and Luka, such a piece of hard work keeping her safe must have been for you two!). This is too bad, because if not for her character, I'd likely have rated this book higher (for now, it's more of a 3.5/5 for me).