In an alternate world where vampires have taken over the world, humans (or hepers) have been hunted virtually to extinction. Those known to exist live at the Heper Institute, where they are studied ... and also hunted. For every 10 years, the Ruler announces a Heper Hunt, where only a handful of vampires selected by random lottery are permitted to hunt a group of hepers and eat them.
When 17-year-old Gene's numbers come up, he's not as thrilled as he should be because he's a heper who's been passing himself off as a vampire ever since he was a child. Forced into a closed environment with a group of predatory vampires - including a classmate, Ashley June who he's had a crush on since starting high school - he knows that if his competitors discover the truth then they will rip him apart, just like they will the hepers who live in a sealed off glass dome - hepers who see Gene as part of the hunt ...
Andrew Fukuda's YA novel (the first in a trilogy) portrays vampires as dangerous predators rather than emo romance fodder. The world building is fascinating and although it didn't all work for me, it's nevertheless a fascinating spin on the dystopian genre and for that alone, it deserves to have an audience.
Hidden by his father as a child from the vampires who've taken over the world, Gene's spent most of his life trying to pass himself off as one of them. Fukuda has really thought about his vampiric society - they have their own mannerisms (including scratching their wrists instead of laughing, lack of facial hair and they sleep hanging from the ceiling) and their own society with hierarchy and roles - and how Gene gets around this. It didn't always convince me (particularly when they get to the desert and Gene can't wash away his body odour) and some of the mannerisms, notably the armpit sex, was a little too out there for me to believe. Although terrified, Gene's resourceful and I was rooting for him.
By contrast the other characters feel underdeveloped, particularly the hepers who'll be hunted who don't get much page time and Ashley June who is little more than Gene's crush. However, I'm expecting this to change in the sequel (which has been set up with an incredible cliff hanger) and I'll definitely be checking it out.