Susan Hubbard’s risks of the imagination

Susan Hubbard’s risks of the imagination: bloody good stuff

by Philip K. Jason              Special to Florida Weekly

Susan Hubbard, “The Season of Risks.” Simon & Schuster. 320 pages. $14.00

After reading Susan Hubbard’s “The Season of Risks,” the third installment of her acclaimed Ethical Vampire series, I can understand the special appeal of the vampire craze to young adults. Who feels more like an outsider than a thoughtful teenager? Who feels more unsettled than someone going through a sequence of identity adjustments? 

What better vehicle for probing these problems of “otherness” than that of the vampire? A changeling by definition, the vampire is in touch with the human sphere, yet divorced from it. A vampire most often must hide his or her true self. As Hubbard explores the nature of her protagonist, Ariella Montero, the issues of identity and expectation are further complicated by the fact that Ariella is a special kind of tweener: not only half child and half adult, but also half human and half vampire. 

Hubbard’s premise involves an underground vampire civilization with competing sects holding conflicting notions about their proper relationship with humankind. Yes, they live among us; but they live more fully among themselves. On one side of the value spectrum are vampires who secretly farm humans for the blood nourishment that the vampires need and feel entitled to. On the other side are those seeking to live openly and in a nonthreatening way within human society, perhaps building an inclusive society. A third sect is positioned somewhere in between. 

Vampire scientists have developed dietary substitutes for human blood; certain bars and restaurants, truly vampire haunts, serve Picardo and other specialized beverages. However, the desire for the defining act of vampirism may not be exclusively for nourishment but rather for energy of a different order.

Vampires dominate entire businesses. In Ms. Hubbard’s novel, the world of online social networking is presented as a major vampiric enterprise. What a fascinating metaphor!

Essentially, “The Season of Risks” involves the trials of growing up than any young woman faces, but with the added dimension of vampire (or half-vampire) capabilities: reading thoughts, becoming invisible, and interacting with ghosts – to name a few. The fact that Ariella, as a half-vampire, can see only vague reflections of herself underscores the issues of identity and self-knowledge that enrich the novel. 

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the October 20-26 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 21-27 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Susan Hubbard-pdf or Florida Weekly – Susan Hubbard

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