Support Group (as I’ll be calling it for ease) paints an interesting picture of vampires; rather than bloodthirsty, powerful monsters or sparkly, beautiful abominations, the vampires in Support Group are more easily likened to people with a permanent case of the flu. They’re physically feeble, oversensitive to noise and light, and are prone to bouts of vomiting–they can’t even go out during the day, partially due to the comatose state they enter during daylight hours. The need for blood is still there, of course, typically sated using guinea pigs, but vampires are pretty useless.
All in all, I really enjoyed the book. The prose is snappy, easy to read, and largely enjoyable (more on that later). The characters become well-defined, even if their simultaneous introduction lead to some confusion on my part (and some of them felt a bit unnecessary). The plot itself was incredibly enjoyable, despite a slow pace compared to many of its peers. There were, however, a few minor issues:
First off, the vampires’ supposed feebleness. I didn’t count a single instance in the book where vampires’ weakness actually changed the outcome of a situation (not counting cases where they planned ahead) and overall there was a sense of… normalcy to the vampires. Nothing in the prose conveys even in the slightest just how horrible being sick can be, and I thought it was a shame that, for all we’re told vampires are weak, they never really showed signs of it.
Then there are the dialogue tags. Catherine Jinks, the author of the book, uses one of the more common “errors” in modern literature by using colorful dialogue tags at nearly every chance. While it isn’t always that bad, there are cases where the dialogue tags go from confusing (when a vampire screeches at other vampires, I wonder why their ears aren’t getting hurt; when characters bleat and quaver, it just seems kind of silly) to redundant (when a character’s dialogue makes it obvious they’re arguing or chiming in or repeating, it’s just irritating for the prose to say so as well).
There are also a few cases of clumsy exposition. Every now and then the reader’s given a brief interruption explaining some little bit or specifying this or that, and it often reads like the author just injected them in without much thought. There’s also a bit about halfway through the book where the main character wakes up from her daytime coma to find everything completely changed from when she went to sleep; the book then spends a chapter explaining things that aren’t really relevant to the matters at hand, but nevertheless completely killing the tension.
But now more on the things I liked, specifically the plot. It follows Nina, a 51-year-old vampire still in a 15-year-old’s body, stuck going to a vampire support group every Tuesday for the past 36 years or so. When a mystery murderer kills their oldest vampire, however, Nina’s propelled into that slow-yet-interesting plot involving quite a bit more tan it might seem (the details of which I don’t feel like spoiling due to the book’s relatively small amount of plot points). The plot is certainly slow moving, with few overall events happening before the book’s conclusion, but I found myself genuinely interested in the goings-on of the characters–and that’s the important thing, right?
Now I’ve said my thoughts, so it’s time to give the book some stars!
I was expecting to give this book three stars until the very end, but as the book reached its conclusion I realized I had gotten bogged down with all the minor details and forgotten what’s important: the plot and characters were enjoyable, interesting, and mostly well-done, and so the book certainly gets four stars from me!