The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause entwines the two stories of Zoe and Simon, chapter by chapter. We start with Zoe - a lonely girl who is struggling with the steady decline of her mother to cancer and the loss of her best friend who is moving to a new city. She feels lost and unloved, and as though no one can understand her grief and pain. Enter Simon, one of the undead. A vampire who has flitted from city to city in pursuit of his monstrous brother, also a vampire. Simon struggles against his nature, believing himself to be unnatural - this is why he is unable to show his face to the sun, or cross running water. He is perfectly positioned to understand Zoe's plight, particularly because he feels as though his condition is a disease.
This is a beautiful, poetic and ephemeral little book. The fleeting nature of Zoe and Simon's relationship and their brief sweet love is perfectly written. Unlike other reviewers I felt the ending of the book to be extremely appropriate and very moving.
I loved the language that Klause used throughout the book, especially when describing Simon - such as: "He was young, more boy than man, slight and pale, made elfin by the moon. He noticed her and froze like a deer before the gun. They were trapped in each other's gaze. His eyes were dark, full of wilderness and stars. But his face was ashen. Almost as pale as his silver hair. With a sudden ache she realized he was beautiful..."
Simon is a lovely, half-wild predecessor to Edward Cullen - from a time when vampires could love, but were never selfish enough to think they could stay with a human. Simon is written in an 'old-fashioned' sense, when the usual cliches of vampires applied - couldn't go out in the daylight, affected by crosses, definitely not sparkly. I much prefer him, although I know I am in the minority here!
I am glad that in the wake of the Twilight phenomenon this book would have seen a wider audience, because it deserves to be read. It has two strong central characters, with genuine motivations, who affect each other's lives and learn from the other. The girl does not depend solely on the vampire for succour and support; although lonely and scared, she can stand on her own two feet. The vampire is not emasculated by his love for a human girl.
The only part I wasn't too sure about was the info dump approach to Simon revealing his past in one long story, but this section was still absorbing and probably necessary to get out all at once considering the slightness of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely story and felt deeply affected by both Zoe and Simon. I would recommend it to anyone who does not like the cloying nature and poor writing of the Twilight books and their carbon copies on the market. This is the thinking girl's Twilight.