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THROAT is not your typical vampire story. For starters, the victim, Emma, gets bitten on the leg rather than the neck. And instead of turning into a vampire, she becomes someone or something that's not completely a vampire but also not entirely human.

Emma has epilepsy, or the "curse," as she calls it. Although it has slowed her down in some ways, she tries to lead as normal a life as possible. She must deal with doctors and seizure meds, but has adjusted well to these obligations. She can't drive a car because she might have a seizure. Still, she's an exceptional athlete and the star of her school's soccer team.

Things go along as normally as possible until Emma takes her mom's car (without permission) and crashes it. Before help arrives, she is able to get out of the vehicle and walk up an embankment. She hears a voice --- a strange voice --- and sees a man standing in a tree. She watches him jump to the ground, and then her world goes dark.

When Emma regains consciousness, she is in a hospital and doesn't know how she got there. Everyone thinks she had another seizure following the accident, which is blocking her memory of the event. She has a huge gash in her leg that requires 30 stitches and doesn't remember that, either. After being told she would be in the hospital for two or three days to recover, she astounds her doctors and everyone else by being strong enough to go home the next day. Then her eyesight changes; bright light bothers her, and she can see in the dark. Her leg heals completely in one week, not two. She develops superhuman strength, superhuman speed and, in turn, superhuman hearing.

Finally, Emma remembers what happened to her, and it all comes back in terrible detail. She was attacked by a vampire and bitten savagely on the leg. As she grapples with that horrible reality, she learns that the vampire is after her and wants to kill her. To protect her mother and sister, she runs away from home, but she can't escape the awful truth and the fact that it will end badly. Ultimately, either she or the vampire will be dead.

With a bit of tongue-in-cheek, in some ways R.A. Nelson's latest novel can be called educational. I picked up a bit of German vocabulary as Emma's grandfather, Papi, and all the vampires speak the language; I was given an insider's view of what it's like to live with epilepsy; and I learned some things about vampires that I never knew before. For instance, did you know there are such things as "good" vampires and "bad" vampires? THROAT is quite well-written, and I very much enjoyed reading it. I think you will, too.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on November 1, 2008

by R. A. Nelson