Saturday, December 25, 2010

Review: The Orange Eats Creeps

Read 12/09/10 - 12/25/10
2 Stars - Recommended Lightly / Not as an Introduction to Genre

It's a christmas miracle! For a moment there, I thought for sure that I would never finish this novel. December has been an awful month for me when it comes to reading. I barely had any time to sit down and just get lost in a novel, and when I did find time, this one wasn't really sucking me in - I wasn't "feeling it", and found myself rereading paragraph after paragraph trying to make sense of it all.

Grace Krilanovich is a first time novelist who creates her own form of storytelling in the feverish and incredibly trippy The Orange Eats Creeps. In it, Grace introduces us to a self proclaimed slutty teenage hobo vampire junkie who begins the search for her missing foster sister/lover Kim - driven on by drug induced ESP, random clues at local convenience stores and back alleys, and nightmare dreams involving cat-rat-snakes things. (I think).

She appears to be a loner, bouncing from one group of similar day-sleepers to another, bedding down with strange men in gas station bathrooms, mini-mart storage rooms, abandoned houses, and rail cars along the way. She had a steady boyfriend named Seth at one point, but loses him and his friends somewhere within the story. (I think). There seemed to be an excessive amount of sex - consensual at times, other times taken by force, with one person at times, other times with many...

As she wallows in memories of her House Mom and the evil things she was put through while residing under her roof, her inability to locate Kim, and the senseless acts she puts her body through, she is also pillaging pharmacies for cough medicine on which she gets high. (I think).

To be honest, I am not entirely convinced she is a vampire at all. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word. She eats and drinks, though she seems to mostly throw it all back up, but that could just be due to her completely horrid choice of products to ingest - days old containers of coffee, packets of sugar, and similar other non-substantial goodies. Though there is a fairly decent amount of blood sucking - or, at least, some obvious fetish with blood - I never truly believed that our doped up, strung out narrator was an actual vampire.

A girl hovering somewhere between life and death - yes. An honest to goodness vampire - not so much. For me, it read more like a teenage runaway trying to live the life of a vampire, masquerading around town like a child masquerades around her room in a princess gown pretending to be Snow White or Cinderella.

This book thoroughly confused the heck out of me. Reading like the collected thoughts of someone suffering from an extremely high and delusional fever, most of the story was pure gibberish. If read individually, the sentences themselves were gorgeous and painful and stunning But when laid out next to each other, they meant nothing and made no sense at all.

I felt a bit like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole. There were moments, little snippets of clarity and lucidity, but mostly the story just left me scratching my head.

Despite my struggle to understand the point behind The Orange Eats Creeps, it's author and publisher (Two Dollar Radio) have made quite the impact on book lists and awards for 2010. Krilanovich was recognized by The National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35", and a finalist for the Starcherone Prize. Reviewers everywhere are praising the hell out of it.

So while it might not have been the perfect book for me, and had me temporarily questioning my ability to read, digest, and differentiate between a good book and a bad book, I suggest you check out some other reviews before siding with me.

However, if you DO happen to read it, and find it as jarring and fragmented as I did, please comment below and share your thoughts. I feel like I need someone to talk to about this one.

In the meantime, check out the book trailer:

I want to thank Two Dollar Radio for making this book available to me for review. Although I did not love the book, I ADORE Two Dollar Radio and their previously reviewed novels (Termite Parade and The People Who Watched Her Pass By). I am very much looking forward to starting their novel The Visiting Suit - up next!

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