Girl Meets Underworld, Jess Watkins
Title: Girl Meets Underworld
Author: Jess Watkins
Publisher: Opis Publishing
Published: 12th February 2013
It’s starting to get increasingly hard to find a YA story that doesn’t include vampires and love rivalry. Girl Meets Underworld dutifully meets these conditions whilst doing very little to add anything to one of the most popular genres around.
Central character Stella is stopped before a suicide attempt by Conner, who turns out to be a vampire. The familiar premise walks even more familiar territory before the story is finished, including vampires who find self-control difficult around human delicacies and a rival love interest who happens to be a werewolf.
Jess Watkins is the latest in a series of young writers creating fiction in Twilight’s shadow. She is not an entirely bad writer – with more practice she could become a competent short story writer. Unfortunately, Watkins is poor at structuring and pacing the events. The central romantic pair fall in love at turbo speed, forgoing any romantic tension and credibility. Stella is made to forget a crucial part of her own story through the manipulations of a certain older vampire (I won’t spoil the revelation for would-be readers) – and then, miraculously, remembers everything and realises what has happened only a few pages later.
The plot continues hopping across lilypads in the same way for the rest of the book. Potentially interesting elements of the world, like vampire haven ‘The Blood Palace’, never get the expansion they deserve. Due to this, any uniqueness of storytelling is washed away whilst the love-trianglees fritter back and forth, desiring, attacking and saving each other over and over.
Overall the read is largely unexciting. It is a shame, because though young writers should be encouraged, it is tricky to want them to continue writing like this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the duty of editors and publishers now is to resist accepting pale bestseller imitations in favour of honing talent.
Girl Meets Underworld will provide undemanding readers with a quick fix of supernatural romance. For those who are more discerning, however, it’s a patchy read that never fleshes out the interesting parts of its own world. Instead, it opts firmly into staying in the safe vampire fiction ballcourt.