Uninvited by Amanda Marrone
Reading Amanda Marrone‘s Uninvited is like reading an old school YA horror novel, and I mean that in the best possible way. If, like me, you cut your YA teeth, so to speak, on the YA thriller and horror novels of the early ’90s, Uninvited should be right up your alley.
Jordan is being haunted by Michael Green, her ex-boyfriend. A few nights after he died, Michael appeared at Jordan’s window and asked her to let him in. He’s done this every night for the past three months and turned Jordan into a recluse. She can’t go out anymore because she needs to be home before dark. Because who knows what this undead Michael will do to her if he catches her outside. And Jordan’s loneliness and her twisted conversations with Michael are weakening her, tempting her to maybe, just maybe, invite him in.
Marrone does a great job of setting up the appropriately moody yet believable atmosphere. The early chapters establish Jordan’s isolation, slowly building tension that stems from both the fear of what Michael, now a vampire, wants to do to Jordan and nervousness about Jordan’s psychological state. Jordan can’t tell her friends the real reason she’s unable to go out with them anymore—who’d believe her if told the truth?—and dropped cross country and the fall drama production. It’s strained the few friendships she has, and her relationship with her mother has never been exactly healthy, so the possibility of Jordan giving in to Michael is strong. And Michael. What happened to him, and what plans does he have for Jordan? After they broke up, he seemingly slept his way through half the girls in school, so why haunt Jordan?
Unlike most vampire books you come across these days, in Uninvited, vampires = Bad! Evil!! Bad!!! This, more than anything else, first got me thinking that Uninvited was like the old horror stories I devoured 15 years ago. Add to that the lone girl being haunted by something, or someone, she can’t tell anyone about (although, granted, in most old YA thrillers, Michael wouldn’t be a vampire but some random pyscho with a vendetta against Jordan), the relative lack of blood, the hint of romance, and especially Marrone’s writing style. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a story that fits right in with D. E. Athkin’s Sister Dearest, Lael Littke’s Prom Dress, and early (back when they were still decent) Fear Street novels, but is at the same time contemporary in its details. (Okay, judging by other reviews, maybe I am the only one.)
My one criticism of Uninvited is that the vampire mythology is rather cliched and not as developed as it could be. And, for anyone considering recommending this to teens, just so you know, there are numerous references to drugs and sex, and a *lot* of drinking. Think Christopher Pike’s Chain Letter books plus Weekend and multiply it by ten or so.