by Chris Salvatore
(Pocket, $14.00, PG-13) ISBN  978-1416560203
If shallow characters with shallower minds mixed with plotlines just as weak are your thing, Necking is your book.  Newcomer Salvatore attemps to poke fun at the publishing industry and paranormal writers in general and manages only to mangle this book instead of make a point.

Giovanna "Gia" Felice is a publicity rep for a company that specializes in supernatural clients.  Gia's best friend, Lola, for instance, is a werewolf she met at work. Then there's Jonathan, a centuries-old vampire who is the manager for one of Gia's clients.  Gia is human, and well aware of the vampire style of living. However, being well acquainted with the fact that vampires are immortal, allergic to sunlight, addicted to blood, and rough during sex (to the point where they prefer only having sex with other vampires), she's got a major jones for Jonathan, who she (gag me) playfully calls Johnny.

That's pretty much the plot, no nutshell needed.  Gia lusts after Johnny, whines about how they can't be together, has Lola keep her away from him, and then crawls back to him. Over.  And over.  And over.  Oh, there's a tidbit here and there about finding the vampire that turned Johnny and Gia's client, Belladonna Nightshade (ain't that cute?).

Johnny is just as stupid as Gia.  Sadly, he seems to have a Heathcliff affectation.  This is sad not because of the attitude but because Johnny is far too weak a character to pull it off.  Whenever Gia doesn't give in to their forbidden love, he does.

As a satire, this fails woefully.  Yes, all of the clichés are visited – much to the chagrin of this reader, at least – but the prose isn't witty or evocative enough to make it seem like it's supposed to be funny.  On top of that, the dialogue is enough to make you want to drive a stake through your own heart.

Now, as for the romance – you think the satire sounds bad? The opening scene of Necking is Giovanna and Lola on a beach in the Caribbean after Lola stages an intervention for Gia's obsession with Jonathan.  As soon as Gia returns to the "real" world, Johnny's breathing (or not, actually) down her neck, and they’re all hot and heavy again.  There are next to no unknowns as far as their relationship goes, and since that's theoretically the focus of the novel, that really sucks (sorry, couldn't resist the pun).

So, as the rating indicates, stay the heck away from Necking.  As far as I'm concerned (although I have read higher ratings of this book), it's only redeeming feature is its brevity.

--Sarrah Knight

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