Having finished the book last night, I needed to sit on the story for a while and really consider what I'd just read. And the simplest answer I could form was something amazing; the blatant answer would be phenomenal. In the second title in Amanda Hocking's My Blood Approves series of books, the story immediately twists into a more serious and darker tale for the book's heroine, Alice Bonham, as her 'future plans' accidentally go awry and the stakes are raised to an entirely new level.
In the first book, Alice meets Jack Townsend and his charming family, who happen to be rich and commendable folks in the neighborhood. It doesn't take long to realize that Jack and the Townsends are vampires. Alice knows that she wants to become a vampire, but her obligations to her younger brother, Milo, keep her from acting so hastily. She inevitably falls in love with Jack, only to run into a monumental complication named Peter, Jack's older brother. In the second book, our leading lady finds out just what it means to become a vampire.
The second book is, in a nutshell, Alice deciding whether the path of a vampire is really the right path for her to take. She asks herself whether this is really the life she's meant to live, and these reflections are starkly exampled in metaphorical events that make her realize, for the very first time, that vampires aren't human. After this dawning revelation, Alice then understands for the first time that Jack and his family aren't human.
After she realizes that the Townsends are predators, new shades begins to unfold about the characters. We learn of patriarchal Ezra's past, and see that even now, although he behaves and acts pleasant for the most part, he has very cold and uncaring moments. In one sense, what semblance of humanity he's managed to hold onto cares very much for Alice; on the other hand, the vampire in him rises now and then, and cares little whether Alice lives or dies. This is the struggle for each member of the Townsend family, a duality that they struggle to control, and Alice has only scratched the surface as she continues to mindlessly provoke the demons within them.
This novel takes quite a huge leap from the chaste and tame themes of the first novel, and becomes much more mature and adult, from alcohol and date-rapists at high school parties, to the graphic gay club scene in which men and women act in ways 'only appropriate in pornography', to the sensual atmospheric vampire club V, teeming with 'Blood-Whores' and the book's secondary-protagonists, Lucian and Violet; two sexy, dark, and twisted vampires that are obsessed with Alice once they catch a whiff of her. The book effectively uses contrasts in characters and their actions to portray Alice's inner turmoil over her own decisions and the choices she's left with. Fate was not a title slapped across the cover for the sake of it; it shares a much deeper theme in this continuation of the first.
At this point in the series, Alice's character still hasn't grown much. She's still childish, naive, insensitive, and self-centered. One would argue that she was destined for the vampire's life for the simple fact that if she's still this immature at her age then she would definitely need the extra years to grow up. But sadly, once turned, a vampire does little, if any, growing. For the most part, they remain the same.
Although still unappreciated and avoided by Alice, Jane is still a presence in the book. Alice's sanctimonious nature rears its fangs in constant judgment of Jane's lifestyle of sex, drugs, and alcohol, but this is only because she does care on some level for Jane's well-being. Though at one point in the book Alice finally realizes what the reader clearly saw in the first novel; Jane's wild binges of debauchery are her way of dealing with pain. And yet, with this knowledge in her grasp, Alice still never questions just what pain and/or anger Jane harbors inside of her; she's too busy worrying about herself and her newfound family, the Townsends. Though near the end of the novel Alice begins to realize just what a friend she has in Jane when danger snaps at their heels, old habits die hard, and Jane's actions pale in comparison to the shade of shrew Alice can't seem to shake; a trait that she unfortunately picked up from her mother.
Alice's newly outed gay sixteen-year-old brother Milo is a dominant force in the story, and much of Fate revolves more around how her relationship with him has changed, and how it will continue to evolve. Milo is just finding himself, and although just as hotheaded as his sister, he also tends to be just as emotionally vulnerable as Alice. In the end, neither of them realized just how much they needed one another, and Alice wonders if she really would have been able to leave him behind after turning into a vampire.
Concerning the driving force behind the series, the Alice-Jack-Peter triangle, it has such tangible charisma that one can almost consider it a character in its own right. Alice's nurtured love for Jack is powerful, but her natured love for Peter still runs its course through her veins, no matter how much Jack disdains it. Peter seemingly doesn't want Alice, and so he leaves. But tragically, Jack and Alice still cannot consummate their love for each other as the bond between Peter and Alice is still strong, and if Jack so much as samples Alice, her blood will be sullied and Peter will instinctively slaughter them both mercilessly.
The reader is led to assume, once events begin to spark the climax, that the final bout will end deus ex machina fashion, but yet another twist of events leaves the reader in awe, craving what's on the next page. The problem: it's the end of the book!
Fate receives a stable 5-Stars for Amanda Hocking's ability to change the game and 'up the ante' while keeping all of the same rules in place. Not to mention that the humor is incredible; at one point Alice's mother accuses her of being on drugs, and threatens to have Alice tested for "Every drug known to man, is that clear?" to which Alice replies "Crystal!" - Am I the only one who finds that pun ingenious? I think not!