Edain Duguay‘s Chameleon took me back to my teenage roots and old dreams of finding a cute boy with strange supernatural gifts who would fall madly in love with me. Her heroine, Kate, is alternately full of fire and of dread, just as I remember from my own youth. She tries on different personas and Duguay does a marvelous job of capturing how intimidating just being yourself can be as a teenager. Her struggles with fitting in with her rich classmates, being the new girl and finding friends are poignant and skillfully depicted.
Her hero, Joshua, is a perfect match, a supernatural being who only wants a little piece of normalcy. His intense passion lends an air of Bronte-esque danger, blending beautifully with the English setting. His care for Kate is obvious as he takes care of her when she’s sick and rescues her when she’s in danger. He clearly and consistently values her life and welfare above his own.
I enjoyed the subtle parallels with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing throughout the story. Duguay does a fantastic job of capturing how intensely teenagers feel, both in love and pain, without tipping into melodrama. She keeps the plot flowing quickly and the tension simmering at just the right level as the reader is drawn into threats from supernatural serial killers and Kate and Joshua’s budding romance.
Joshua’s family, the Marstons, and their friends serve as Kate’s guide to the new world she has stumbled into, explaining the pitfalls for her and for them if she missteps. Kate’s alternating fascination and revulsion draw us deeper into an alternate reality where humans are seen more as food than equals.
The world of the Chameleons was well developed and explored without weighing down the story. I got a good sense of the rules of this secret society and how their morality differs from our own. Chameleons are labelled by how they feed, either feeders, bleeders or hippies, and while individuals may disapprove of another individual’s choices, they are all permitted so long as they remain secret. The Chameleon world could be jolting at times, but appropriately so. It felt alien and dangerous but also intriguing.
Chameleon was an enjoyable start to the series and I’m looking forward to picking up the sequel. It’s a quality young adult romance, but also appropriate for all ages.