I have such mixed feelings for this book. The blurb sounded amazing – a queer vampire story set at a gothic boarding school – but unfortunately the execution was very problematic with all the racist and homophobic remarks, as well as the completely unnecessary HP references. So even though I did enjoy a lot of things in this story, it was not what I’d hoped for.
In short, Youngblood follows the two former childhood best friends, and vampires, Kat Finn and Taylor Sanger as they end up as roommates at an elite vampire-only boarding school. Since a virus has infected nearly all of humanity, vampires can no longer drink blood from humans but have to rely on an expensive synthetic blood substitute (Hema) to survive. This has led to a division between vampires, with elite vampires who can afford the drink and who have separated themselves from humans, whereas other poor vampires struggle to make ends meet, and even having to risk their lives to feed on humans when they can’t afford Hema – like Kat’s dad.
Desperate to find a way out of her and her mother’s poverty, Kat applied to the prestigious elite vampire school with a full scholarship. At school, she not only meets but have to share rooms with her former best friend, now enemy after Taylor betrayed Kat and her family. Taylor has grown up in the wealthy vampire world, but she’s tired of its backward, conservative values—especially when it comes to sexuality, since she’s an out-and-proud lesbian.
Soon other problems start to rise, when Taylor stumbles upon the dead body of a vampire, and Kat makes a shocking discovery in the school’s archives. On top of that, the straight Kat might not be as straight as she’d always thought, when she’s starting to have more than friendly feelings for her roommate…
I really enjoyed the concept of this story. It was witty and fun with so many things I love - queer, vampires, boarding school, friends to enemies to lovers, and headstrong female main characters – and it gave me such great Vampire Academy vibes. I also really loved Taylor’s character. But unfortunately, it was also very problematic and dealt with issues like racism and homophobia in a terrible way, and on top of that added HP references.
It was so unnecessary to ruin the story with all these racist and homophobic remarks. It feels like the author added them to prove how woke Kat was as a character, but it only made me like her less and ruined the story for no reason. The story would have worked just as well even if the boarding school had been queer-friendly and diverse.
The blasé attitude about colonization, racism, homophobia and the HP references was way too off-putting for me to be able to recommend this book to anyone. But I’ve decided to give it a 2.5 star rating nevertheless, since there were a lot of things I enjoyed and since the book ends in way that made it possible to interpret it as if the new generation got their eyes opened to the bigotry amongst the elders and that they would create a better world onwards.
2.5 stars rounding up to 3
All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charli Meadows Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens Deonn Tracy D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Wesley Chu Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez