Speaking of vampires
Much to her dismay, Bianca’s parents have taken positions as teachers at a boarding school called Evernight Academy. She’s been enrolled at Evernight even though she didn’t want to leave her old home behind and she knows she won’t fit in with her new classmates. Then Bianca meets Lucas, who seems to understand her like no one else ever has, only to ignore her once classes begin. But they’re still attracted to each other, and that attraction could be dangerous, because both Lucas and Bianca have secrets they can’t share.
My main reaction to Evernight: Oh, the irony! So in the book, Bianca criticizes the assigned reading for her English class, saying it’s not fast-moving enough. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, And when’s the action going to get started in this? Evernight opens with a most intriguing and exciting prologue, then I was forced to wade through almost half the book before anything of substance occurred. And by that point, I kept expecting more, more, more. But after waiting so long, I guess my expectations were heightened, and the action that did occur was not enough to satisfy me after all that impatience. You do not know how many times I was tempted to put the book down, tired of just waiting for something to happen.
I suppose other than the slow start, the book was okay. After all, the fact that I kept on reading in spite of wanting to put it down a bunch of times says something about the book. But it left me feeling unsatisfied and inclined not to read the next book in the series, even though I’m sure it won’t have the same pacing problem as Evernight. I think the action would start earlier, if not immediately, the pace would be faster, since Gray has already introduced the conflict in the last half of Evernight with the big (unsurprising) reveals concerning Bianca and Lucas, but… Since I didn’t find either character all that compelling—I really don’t care about what happens to them one way or another—and Gray’s prose was smooth and readable, but not particularly memorable to me, I don’t think the expectation of a faster-paced book is enough to convince me to give it a try.
So of course, I won’t be surprised if this turns out to be the next big thing after Twilight. (And is it just me, or was Claudia Gray trying to channel Stephenie Meyer here? The forest, the cute boy who runs hot and cold toward the outsider narrator, the huge chunks of narrative in which our narrator wonders what’s up with hot guy and crushes on him and nothing else happens… Also, I think readers who have problems with Edward may not like Lucas either, though Lucas’ motivation behind his attempts to manipulate Bianca were understandable, and Bianca does recognize them for what they are.) Meanwhile, I’ll stick to Rachel Caine, Melissa de la Cruz , and Richelle Mead. And wait impatiently for this.
Of all the Twilight-era vampire books, the Morganville Vampires series is my favorite. This series gets pretty good circulation at my library, but I wouldn’t mind if it reached Vampire Academy/House of Night/duh, Twilight levels. Anyway, I tried a couple of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden books, got bored, stopped reading them around book 3. But I lurve this series. It’s partly the seeming novelty of the vampires = bad! atmosphere in a time where it seems like pretty much every YA vampire book around is either narrated by a vampire who is obviously not the bad guy or by someone in love with a vampire. (Okay, so one or two of the Morganville vampires might actually be good. And some of them may not be bad, but they’re not good, either. But they are the more powerful group, by far, and while many of them might not be bad, the vampires do have their own agenda and serve as antagonists in this series. Whereas a lot of the other series seem to put humans in the role of antagonists, with the vampires afraid of letting humans learn of their existance.) It’s partly Claire and Shane, the way I get all gooey like a chocolate chip cookie in those scenes where they’re together. But mostly it’s all the action and tension Caine creates.
I have a hard time writing about series books past book one because I’m never sure how much of the plot to discuss. I mean, what happens in Feast of Fools (book 4) is a direct result of the first three books in the series, but if someone hasn’t read those books, I don’t want to give everything away. And diving right into the plot can be confusing.
Anyway, as Claire Danvers, 16-year-old genius college freshman, discovers in Glass Houses (book 1), Morganville, Texas is home to a community of vampires. The locals know all about it and the rules that allow them to coexist in an uneasy peace, but Claire, as an outsider, is ignorant of them. Bullied by the mean girls in her dorm, Claire finds a place to live off-campus with three Morganville natives, Michael Glass, Eve Rosser, and Shane Collins. They live in Glass House, Michael’s family home, and all three have dangerous histories with vampires. Soon Claire does too, having attracted the attention of Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. And then, um, some powerful vampires from outside Morganville arrive, stirring up trouble.
Hey, I think that’s actually a pretty good description of the series! Even though Claire is the main character, having three other characters close to Claire in age and with important backstories of their own makes the series even more intriguing. Because I’m not just worried about whether Claire will be able to figure out a way to maintain the status quo, but also if Shane will get himself killed, if Eve will come to terms with her family, etc. Moreover, the vampires have their own factions and the humans of Morganville are on the wrong side of a vampire power struggle. In a lot of ways, this series is the opposite of Evernight. Except that both Claire and Shane are human (that’s not a spoiler, right?). The books are fast-paced, have a lot more action than dithering, take place in a small town that doesn’t have a lot of trees or snow, and Claire and Shane have pretty much been solidly together since book 1 without any of that human/vampire power imbalance between them. And I definitely want to find out what happens next.
Actual reviews of Evernight: Oops…Wrong Cookie, YA New York. Both liked it a lot more than me. And an interview with Claudia Gray at Reviewer X. Reviews (uniformly positive) of Feast of Fools: The Compulsive Reader, Reader Rabbit, Someone’s Read It Already, Urban Fantasy Land.