The Superiors, by Lena Hillbrand
The Superiors is not your run-of-the-mill vampire story. Oh no. If you're looking for forbidden romance, you won't find it here. It's hard to compare this book to any other vampire book, because I've not read one like it.
In Lena's world of vampires, they are...superior. They are strong, intelligent, predators. Humans are not. Humans are prey. Humans are food. There is a very strict class order in this new world of vampires: the First Order, the Second Order, the Third Order, and then humans are below with all the rest of the animals. As with people, there are some vampires who care for the comfort and safety of all animals. The main character, Draven, is one such vampire, and he doesn't like to see animals suffer. When he develops a "taste" for a human girl, Cali, he goes out of his way, risking life and career, to ensure her safety when other vampires treat her unkindly.
Lena's writing is smooth and professional. The story is original and, when you really think about the differences between vampires and humans, makes sense in the reality of that world. By their nature, vampires are superior to humans, so it's perfectly believable that they would take over and not hide their true nature.
There were parts of the novel that made me squirm, and I wasn't sure what made me so uncomfortable. And then I realized it was because if I lived in the world Lena created, *I* would be a cow. I would have no choice in the direction of my life, where I lived, who I mated with, and I would be so low on the bottom of the food chain that the Superiors would think I couldn't feel emotion. Just like an animal. Through her writing, Lena created a world that is so believable that it made me squirm, which was, I'm sure, Lena's intent.
Despite the brilliance of the writing, I did have a hard time connecting with Draven...at first. Despite the compassion he felt for animals, he still considered humans animals. But he slowly grew on me, and you could see this character's growth as he interacted with Cali and learned that perhaps all the things he'd been taught about humans may not have been entirely true. As I neared the end of the book, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
I eagerly await the sequel, and highly recommend this book to all fantasy readers!