Carriger, G. (2009). Soulless. New York, NY: Orbit.
Plot Summary: The book begins with Alexia Tarabotti not really fitting into her role as a high society woman until she kills a vampire and discovers she is a preternatural more commonly referred to as soulless this gives her the ability to turn vampires and werewolves mortal if she touches them as well as exorcize ghosts. Soulless are very rare and because of this she finds herself drawn into the supernatural world. She is investigating the disappearance of vampires and werewolves when she is taken captive by the mad scientist who has been kidnapping the other supernaturals for terrible experiments. She is able to break free and because of her supernatural ability is made an adviser to the queen. Throughout this adventure there is also the love story of Alexia falling in love with Lord Maccon the Alpha of the local werewolf pack.
Critical Evaluation: The writing in this book is very descriptive. There are many different types of supernatural creatures in this story, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and preternaturals and they are have different cultures that are well described. For example vampires are obsessed with being the height of fashion and are important in high society while the werewolves are rough and involved in military and police work. The whole world they exist in is a combination of historical elements and steampunk and is once again very detailed and well done. The one area that is not as detailed is the characters themselves, at times they are more like types than real fleshed out people. The main characters are pretty well written so this mostly applies to the minor characters and it greatly improves as the series goes on. In this first book it sometimes feels like Carriger spent so much time describing the world the characters live in she ran out of description for the actual characters. That said the writing style is still very engaging and the story manages to be both humorous and suspenseful. Overall the book is a very good introduction to the series but the series gets better as it progresses.
Reader’s Annotation: Alexia Tarabotti is a society women with an insufferable family doomed to live out her days as a boring spinster until she accidentally kills a vampire.
Author Information: This was Gail Carrigers first series. She has since started the Finishing School series, the final book comes out later this year, and the Custard protocol series which begins with Prudence and was released earlier this year.
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Why is Alexia referred to as Soulless, how does this describe her abilities?
2) Why is so politically so important?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is sold for adults though I have seen it shelved in the YA section. This is the only series Carriger has written for adults so many of her fans are teens. This series is also set in same universe as her YA novels adding to the teen appeal. The content is a little more adult there are some sex scenes in the series but it is on par with some of what is being published for teens already. This book won the ALA Alex Award in 2010 for books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.
Challenge Issues: The book does have a sex scene however it is fairly mild compared to what people may think of as an adult book. I have read teen books with similar sex scenes so while it is more detailed than some YA it is still not graphic. This book received the Alex award and the series is very well reviewed and corresponds with Carrigers other popular YA series. Depending on library policy this may have to be shelved in the adult section but I would still recommend it to fans of her other series with the warning that the series does feature sex scenes so they can decide if that’s appropriate for themselves.
Why is it included?: I really like Carriger’s books and think this is a great example of a book written for adults that has a large teen audience.