I've recently started having a little less fondness of the Young Adult section. I feel like some authors nowadays are recycling the same ideas over and over. It's getting quite repetitive and boring. Vixen, however, is a great change from all of the vampire and fairy books that have been hitting the shelves lately. I found myself quite enjoying the read. It's set in the Roaring 20's, which is an area that the YA section doesn't have much material on. The only thing I found a little odd was that Vixen was released the same time as Anna Godbersen's Bright Young Things. I haven't read Bright Young Things yet (though, it is sitting on my bookshelf), so I can't compare the two or tell you which one's better. However, Vixen did leave me pleasantly surprised, and I applaud Jillian Larkin for making such a good debut novel.
Focusing more on the plot line now, Vixen is about three young women, who are essentially viewed as Flappers by the end of the story. You've got the main character, Gloria, a rich seventeen year old who is set to unwillingly marry Sebastian Grey, a high in society 23 year old. In my mind, Gloria was just okay. I struggled with liking and disliking her throughout the novel. In some parts, I supported her and found some of Gloria's actions to be interesting. In other parts, she started to get on my nerves. I feel like at times, she may be viewed as the stereotypical rebellious teenager. After finishing the book, I do feel that Gloria may be a bit deeper than that, but I still can't honestly say that she was my favorite character. Next we have Clara, Glo's older cousin. She moves in to help with the wedding and brings a pretty bad past along with her. Clara was definitely the one I liked the best throughout the entire novel. I found her to be the most unique character and the one I felt the most emotionally drawn to. I almost wish that Larkin had put even more emphasis on her than Gloria, only because she is much less predictable than her cousin. But, oh well, as long as Clara gets the same amount of focus in the sequel as she has now, then I'll be happy. Finally, you have Lorraine, Gloria's best friend for years, who always gets put on the back burner, and is sick of it. I'm not really sure what to think of Lorraine. Frankly, I usually like the villains of the story the best. But, there were some parts of Vixen where I found her to be very childish, which lost points in my book. Either way, Lorraine at least made the story more interesting, and I can't say that I hate her for it. Even at her worst points, she's still more interesting than Gloria, and I'm glad that the author is bringing her back in the second book.
All in all, I thought Vixen was a really good novel. It was thought provoking, had some twists along the way, and held my attention well. The main thing holding me back from giving it five stars was that the romantic parts of it were somewhat predictable and cliche. Though, I've never been a huge romantic, so it's natural that I didn't love this aspect of the book. If you, however, do enjoy reading love stories, then you'll probably find these parts better than I did. In the end, I still thought that they were a little amusing, and they certainly didn't hurt the book any. My only other complaint would be Gloria's predictable personality and naivety (for example- she falls in love with a different character after only meeting him face to face a few times- I found this a little hard to believe). There were many parts of this book that I loved too, though. The setting was awesome, the supporting characters (Marcus, Sebastian, Vera, Carlito, and even Jerome) were very well created , and the book itself was fairly easy to read through in a few days, despite it's length. The speakeasies were great and I loved the influence of the mob on the novel. Those parts alone made it worth the read. I'm usually a harsh book critic, but I very much liked Vixen. I can't wait to read the sequel, Ingenue. I would recommend this novel to anyone. Even if you just think that it looks a little interesting, I would go ahead and pick it up. It surprised me; hopefully it'll surprise you too.
Note: I also posted this review on Amazon.