Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Revenants: A Review of Redlisted by Sara Beaman

I should start by saying that I turn down and ignore a lot of vampire novels these days. There are too many of them and I'm too jaded to review them fairly. That happens with any sub-genre--after a few dozen, you need to take a break or you will lose your mind. So, obviously, what enticed me to read this book was not the vampires.

Redlisted is the story of Kate, who cannot recognize her own face or remember who she really is. She finds that she needs blood to keep going, and becomes dependent of Adam (a revenant) to supply it to her. She and Adam (along with a cast of secondary characters), try to recover Kate's memories while balancing between opposing vampire factions and trying to expose the truth about one evil vampire.

Positive Comments

As expected, the vampires weren't the hook for me in this book. What set it apart, what made it work for me, was the creepy, weird, and at times disorienting thriller story about a woman (Kate) who's very identity was taken from her. The style suits this perfectly, switching narrators and using gradually recovered memories to reveal the back story. Kate remembers things in reverse order, remembering a scene at a time, constantly raising more questions for the reader. That method of storytelling often works for me, as I find myself insatiably curious about how all of these events got started. There are downsides, but I'll get to that later.

Along with Kate's story, we are also shown how Adam came to be as he is. Vampire origin stories are a dime a dozen, aren't they? Yet, I felt that the author did a fair job of keeping this tired story line intriguing enough that I was able to get through it without much eye rolling, and I did start to feel some sympathy and concern for Adam.

Critical Comments

The downside to any amnesia story is that the remembering part of the plot takes over and leaves little room for moving forward with the character arc. In this particular story, I felt that it had the unfortunate side effect of making Kate rather hard to identify with. We don't know anything about her, and most of the memories that are recovered revolve around the conspiracy and the mystery. She's never given a proper personality. Really, she could be anyone. It took me awhile to figure out if I was reading about a girl in her teens, or a woman in her twenties or thirties. That's how flat the character development is.

The vampire politics,while interesting, add very little to the plot or tone of the story. It's all explained rather vaguely, and you'll be lucky to get a firm grasp on who's in charge and what is being done.


Thriller/horror/mystery fans, this one is for you. It's dark, creepy, and impossible to put down. It's very light on the romance and even lighter on the humor, so exercise caution if you lean toward either of those genres. Personally, I found this very readable, and I would be intrigued enough to read future books in the series. 3.5 stars. 

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