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The Radleys by Matt Haig

Posted on Oct 2, 2011 by in 3 stars, Book Reviews | 0 comments

The Radleys

Author:  Matt Haig
Format:  Paperback ARC
Release Date:  July 1, 2010
Dates Read:  September 30-October 1, 2011

Meet the Radleys

Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.

This book was obtained freely through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.

The Radleys is an intriguing look into the life of a family of vampires trying to fit in as a normal family in a small, normal town. The vampire mythology in this novel is different than what readers are used to, and is quite interesting. First off, vampires aren’t immortal. They can subsist on human blood, vampire blood, or abstain from both. Those who do their best to ignore their cravings for blood are part of a vampire subculture known as abstainers, who work diligently to live uneventful, human-like lives, denying the callings of blood and the imagination.

The Radleys are abstainers. Helen and Peter have kept their children, Rowan and Clara in the dark for seventeen years. For years, these teens have tried to live unassuming lives in a small English town. However, they have always stuck out; have always been picked on by others who, subconsciously, realized that the Radleys are different. Nothing challenges this status quo until Clara is followed home and assaulted by the bully at school. He forces himself on her, and in a panic, she defends herself to keep herself from getting raped. This is the night that changes everything, that brings into question whether or not the Radleys can ever truly live normal lives again.

I thought the novel, overall, was quite well done. It really brings to light the issues of family, fitting in, guilt, temptation and identity. It may be a story about vampires, but there are messages applicable to real life. The general premise and themes remind me of “The Gates”, an American television show about a suburban gated community of supernatural beings, and their struggle to lead somewhat normal lives. I liked that show, and I liked this novel. I’d recommend it to fans of vampires and fans of books about the struggles of domestic life.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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