Hi WhatchYAreading, I’m Katie – I know, we like to make it as difficult as possible for you all to remember who is who on here. Since this is my first review, I just wanted to take a brief second to tell you all how blown away I am by our first week live. Readers and authors alike have gone above and beyond to get the word out about our little site, and we couldn’t be more excited or thankful. We’ve had amazing feedback from all of you, authors have retweeted us, and you couldn’t have made our first week more successful.
So thank you, from the bottom of our bookish little hearts.
Now to get to the meat of things…I bring you my first review.
If you want to know about Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series, imagine lead character Claire Danvers to be reminiscent of Willow Rosenberg from Buffy with her genius brain and unerring belief that life’s answers can be found in a book (though she’s arguably prettier). Throw in Morganville: a small Texas college town, not all too dissimilar to Bon Temps ala the Sookie Stackhouse series and all the drama that ensues within the town limits. Then top it off with an action packed, suspenseful, and utterly original concept about a vampire town and the humans stuck there, which will leave you wondering how you ever believed in defanged sparkly vampires.
The series, which at present consists of eight books, follows Claire Danvers, child prodigy at the age of 16, in her first year of college at Texas Prairie University- a podunk, go-nowhere university most renowned for its alarmingly high transfer rate. Claire, smart enough to attend MIT, was forced by her parents to spend two years in a nearby school until she turned 18. But Morganville was not about to let Claire quietly bide her time until she’s free to transfer. Instead, a small slight to Monica Morell (who makes Regina George look like a Nice Girl) has her being tormented and nearly killed in her dorm after being pushed down the stairs. With an immediate need to find new housing or die, Claire follows an ad to the Glass House where she meets her new roommates, best friends, and love interest throughout the rest of the series: Eve, the super goth barrista, Michael- the musician with the angelic looks and savior complex, and semi-bad boy slacker Shane with the dark past that hides a snarky and heroic heart of gold- mostly.
This strange mix of roommates takes Claire under their wing and for the first novel, Glass Houses teaches her the ropes of how to survive in a town run in a modern feudal overlord style by vampires. The humans of Morganville have a choice to make upon turning 18- either sign with a vampire and agree to tithe both blood and money to them for the rest of their life in exchange for their protection (and an in-club bracelet), or learn what it means to be a free-range human, ripe for the picking by any vampire after dusk. While all the members of the Glass House have their own secrets and pasts, the one thing they have in common is that they’ll live free and die free, and in Morganville, the latter could happen at any time.
The sincerely plot heavy series never lacks in imagination or twists. While each novel is rarely over 200 pages, all of the plots are richly intertwined, and something introduced in book three might not come to fruition until book six. Despite the intensity of the multiple plots, character growth is not lost. In a heavy action series eight, soon to be nine, books long you tend to expect maturation to fall by the wayside. However, with each new disaster that Claire, Eve, Michael and Shane go through, their bonds grow stronger, and you can feel them becoming a powerful unit who are the only ones who might be able to make a difference in the town (translation-taking humans off the menu). Meanwhile, Eve and Shane’s hard edges get worn down, Claire emerges from her bookworm limitations and toughens up, while golden boy Michael learns how to not always be so nice. Most importantly though, is that none of it is done through excessive exposition nor does it come from left field. Rachel Caine knows her characters, and while she lets them become well rounded, she never loses their voice or forces their hand. It’s subtly and superbly done.
The Morganville Vampire series is easily my favorite series I’ve read this summer, and I’m anxiously waiting for the ninth book, Ghost Town to be released October 26, 2010. They’re a fun quick read and while they might remind you of other things you’ve seen or read before, they’re something all together different. Caine doesn’t glorify immortality and she doesn’t shy away from letting the series go to dark places (of which there are many). People and vampires, die. Bad things happen to good people. And while there is a level of good verses bad, as the series progresses it becomes more reminiscent of the Allied Powers fighting along side the Soviets in World War II- the humans and vampires may be diametrically opposed to one another, but common enemies keep uniting them. More importantly though, the rag-tag band of roommates make themselves into their own family and through a lot of trial and hardships realize that blood doesn’t make you all good or all bad- regardless of whether you’re the blood bag or bloodsucker.
The Morganville Series in order:
Dead Girl’s Dance
Feast of Fools
Lord of Misrule
Kiss of Death
If you want to try-before-you-buy, go to Rachel Caine’s website to read chapter excerpts of all available books.