Venomous by Christopher Krovatin
Okay, so the first awesome thing about Chris is that he published his first novel before he was a junior in college, which isn’t that much older than a teenager. The second awesome thing about him is that he is a fantastic, clever writer. While a lot of authors think they can present an authentic teen voice in their books, a lot of them also fail horribly; Chris doesn’t. The characters in Venomous (and those in Chris’ first novel, Heavy Metal and You) are so well-developed and realistic that you become completely enveloped in their world—they’re the kind of people you’d want to be friends with (well…most of them). The narrator, Locke Vinetti, is witty and engaging even while he’s dealing with his own (very formidable) problems, and while not everyone has violent rage outbursts like his, any reader can identify with Locke’s struggle with elements of his own personality.
Here’s the basic idea: Locke Vinetti has serious, serious anger problems. When he was eight, he bit off the tip of a classmate’s nose. His anger isn’t just a small part of his life—it’s a separate entity (which he calls “the venom”) that bubbles up and consumes him, and he’s having more and more trouble keeping it at bay. To complicate things further, Locke has just met Renee, the “beautiful, unpredictable, messed-up goth girl of his dreams.” Hanging out with her seems to help him at first, but when things start to go awry in his new circle of friends, he finds himself struggling with the venom more and more. The novel is intense and fast-paced, and each chapter is followed by a stylized illustration and a passage from the sub-narrative involving Locke’s superhero alter ego, Blacklight.
Venomous is a fun, powerful read, and it will keep you interested the whole way through. If you love it (and you will), be sure to check out Heavy Metal & You next. You'll want to be familiar with Chris and his books, in case you see him around here sometime soon...