I've been putting off reviewing this book because it pains me to give a negative review when I so much loved The Society of S, its predecessor.
The Year of Disappearances picks up where Society left off, with 14-year-old Ariella (who can pass for 21) living with her mother in Florida, learning how she fits as a vampire in a human world. When a new friend disappears, suspicion falls on Ariella, whose best friend had been murdered only months before. With her incredible intelligence and maturity, Ariella is sent off to a private college by her mother to get away from the town's harassment. But a friend is murdered there, as well.
The story really has a lot of potential. How could it not, with Society's haunting prose and intelligence? But Hubbard just seemed bent on packing as many unnecessary elements into the plot as possible. Besides vampires and classes of vampires, which didn't bother me, there were also evil harbingers, sasas (demons that can take over animals or humans), black market drugs that humans think can turn them into vamps, and a (secret) vampire running for president. All of this is thrown in with the series of disappearances/murders taking place around Ari, and by the time that mystery is solved, the whole plot has just become so convoluted that I could care less.
Factor in this teenage girl dealing with being a vampire, having her first real relationship and thinking about sex, her friends missing or murdered, her father deathly ill, college at age 14 -- that's enough for one novel, don't you think? So I asked the 15-year-old, vamp-loving, book-devouring girl who regularly comes to the library what she thought of The Year of Disappearances.
"The author tried too hard," she said. And that best sums it up.