Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Tear Collector (YA)

Jones, Patrick. 2009. The Tear Collector. Walker (Bloomsbury) Books. 272 pages. September 2009.

"Are you crying?" I ask as I tap on the driver's side window of the white Chevy Impala.

The Tear Collector has an interesting premise. From the back cover, "readers beware of a new kind of vampire--one that feeds off tears instead of blood." Our narrator, Cassandra Gray, depends on human sorrow--tears--to survive. Which wouldn't be so horribly bad if she wasn't the one responsible for collecting tears for her great-grandmother, Veronica. She's collecting for two, you see. Fortunately, tears are relatively easy to come by. Cass works as a volunteer at the hospital--and it's easy for her to find folks grieving there. And then, of course, there's high school. On any given day, any given week, Cass is always finding heartbreak and sorrow there. So Cass plays sympathetic friend. Cry on my shoulder--my bare shoulder--says she. Sometimes Cass has to help things along--tell a lie, start a rumor, spread some gossip, etc. But Cass thinks she knows the boundaries. There are things she'd never, ever do. Unlike her cousin. She suspects he'd do anything to collect tears. But she's different...or is she?

Cass doesn't make for a sympathetic heroine. She's cold, calculated, manipulative. She excuses this with the I'm-not-human-don't-blame-me routine. The Tear Collector is about her quest to change all that, her quest to become more human. Can she make a real friend? Can she really fall in love? Or is her life destined to be all make believe.

I had a hard time connecting with Cass. Then again, Cass had a hard time making genuine connections. So I think it was just part of who she was as a character. Is she trustworthy and reliable as a narrator? Was she meant to be? I don't know. I personally didn't trust her. But that could be just my take on it. Could the reason I loathe Cass be because Cass loathes Cass? Here is a character that despises who she is. That despises the life she lives. Despises the choices she's forced to make.

I found some of the scenarios a bit far fetched as well. The overflowing sloppiness of the tears.

"It's okay to cry, Robyn," I say softly, encouraging another emotional outburst. she listens, letting loose a torrent of tears. I slip off my jacket--actually my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Cody's varsity jacket--then pull her close, letting her tears fall on my bare left shoulder. I'm wearing a simple gray tank top set off by the tie-dyed bandanna holding back my long multi-colored hair. My hair is like my life: mostly dark, but with a few streaks of light and color added in.
I don't say anything; instead, I let her cathartic tears soak into my skin. (3)

"Sometimes I think it would be better if I were dead."
I don't respond; instead, I let more drops soak into my shoulder and I feel a rush from the energy in the tears, probably like an addict feels getting his fix from his drug of choice.
When I'm so full that I'm almost disoriented, I take a white linen monogrammed handkerchief from my back pocket. I gently transfer the tears from her face to this old-fashioned invaluable family heirloom. I pull her close, so she can't see the smile forming on my face as a waterfall of tears continues to cascade from her eyes. Robyn needs to cry, but what she doesn't know--and nobody outside of my family could imagine--is that I need her to cry even more. Just as a vampire needs to suck blood to live, I need these human tears in order to survive. (9)
I think it is an interesting premise. It was nice to see some role reversal going on. A "vampire" girl in pursuit of the ordinary boy-next-door.

I think for those that seek this genre, sub-genre of books--darker romances with supernatural and/or horror elements...that this one might make for a nice read.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


chrisa511 said...

I think this is going on my list Becky! It sounds neat premise-wise...something different. Though I have to say that I kind of laughed a little bit at the waterfall of tears coming out of people's eyes :/

Becky said...

That's how I was, Chris. All the different descriptions of crying--the cascades and the waterfalls and such made me want to giggle. It was hard to take those scenes seriously at all. I kept imagining cartoon characters crying and squirting out tears. And so while I thought the premise was really interesting, it didn't quite work for me. It was more of an almost book for me.

Carl V. Anderson said...

It does sound like an interesting premise, though I am not surprised that you didn't connect with the character. It would take someone very manipulative to live off of the sorrow and grief of others. The idea makes for interesting social commentary if nothing else.

Ceri said...

This does sound very unusual but interesting nonetheless. :)

fictionreader92 said...

This sounds really interesting! I love vampires! Especially if their different! I will have to head to the bookstore soon!