Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

Almost to Die For
Tate Hallaway

I won this book over at The Book Pushers blog. I’d read a couple of books in the Garnet Lacey series (still plan to get around to the rest one day), and was interested in seeing what this new YA series would be like. 

The Premise: Anastasija (Ana) Parker has just turned sixteen, which is the day she becomes a full witch in the coven which she and her mom belongs. Ana dreads the ritual which will prove that she has no magic: although she can feel spells, she can’t cast any herself.  Her birthday turns out to be even more of a disaster when her father, a man Ana never met, turns up. And he’s the vampire king. Ana discovers she’s a dhampyr, and each parent wants her to reject the other and embrace their particular heritage.

My Thoughts: At 241 pages, this is a really fast read. Ana is a typical high school student, albeit one who has been put into the “weird” crowd because of her different colored eyes, and odd friends (Bea is witchy, Taylor is one-of-a-kind). Besides a jock trading barbs with her at school, and interactions with the coven, she’s nothing very special. This all suddenly changes overnight on her birthday when her vampire father shows up and the cat is out of the bag. Her mother flips out and begins throwing spells like crazy.  Ana has no idea why and her mother refuses to explain anything. Things get worse at the ritual, but Ana seems to be catching the eye of both Nicolai – a witch her age with a family tradition of vampire hunting, and Elias, the captain of her father’s guard. Ana finds herself ping-ponging between parents and trying to decide what she should do.

There are a few things that I liked about this book, but I think I had more problems than I had positive reactions. The main issue was the feeling like this was very well-trodden territory – there were too many things in this book that I’ve read before. This in itself is I suppose OK, but it wasn’t balanced by enough original ideas to keep me connected to the story:

  • Teen girl discovers that her parents have been hiding information about herself
  • Teen girl discovers she’s the daughter of a king and is therefore a princess
  • Teen girl gets a bodyguard of supernatural origin who is immediately interested in her
  • Teen girl must choose between new hot guy and hot guy she’s known for a while. Cannot decide. Dates both.
  • Teen girl likes boy who is basically a hunter of whatever she is, but makes exception for her
  • Teen girl has unique special powers no one else has and has some special Destiny

The fact that I didn’t really like her mother (who kept Ana’s half-vampire status hidden when a lot of the coven knew about it, and then puts spells on Ana which basically enslave her) did not help. I had a lot of questions about why her mother was like this that didn’t feel explained. I didn’t quite believe her explanation for keeping Ana in the dark either. Maybe that’s for another book, but it frustrated me in this one. The beginnings of the love triangle in this story was another issue. I think both guys were interesting, but I couldn’t buy their attraction to Ana because it almost seemed like both guys liked a concept of her, but didn’t really knew her. Perhaps this is something else that gets addressed in a sequel.

What I did like was Ana’s friendships with Bea and Taylor. I liked that Bea was someone Ana didn’t always like, but there was love there – I was interested in what their history was and I wished there was more room in this book to explore their friendship. Taylor has an even smaller role – she’s basically a friend with a lot of interesting (if a bit geeky) interests, who wears a hijab with jeans to school. She doesn’t know what’s going on with Ana’s supernatural life, but when she’s on the page, I loved her.  I also liked the particular spin on the origins of vampires and the world building there. The explanation behind the enmity between witches and vampires was a good one. Finally – I thought that the way cell phones/communication in this story was well thought out.

Overall: An average read. I wanted to like this book, but there was a lack of freshness to the story that left me feeling underwhelmed. Maybe this would work better as an introduction to paranormal YA genre than someone who has read a lot of these.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
I couldn’t find other reviews yet. Let me know if you have one and I’ll link it here.

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