I posted a TBR Tuesday a little while back with The Morganville Vampires, vol 1 (Glass Houses and The Dead Girls Dance) as the star. I mentioned that a lot of people had been telling me to read them and that I, personally, would like them, and I was a little dubious. (But that didn't stop me from buying Vol 1 with its pretty cover, now did it?)
When I posted that TBR Tuesday, I was between books and in a reading funk, and just wasn't sure what I was in the mood for -- and as I hit publish, I realized maybe that was what I was in the mood for.
I promptly unburied my copy and started reading.
I think I finished Glass Houses the next morning, The Dead Girls Dance that day, and ordered Vol 2 that night.
So here, for your viewing pleasure (or something) are my mini-reviews of the first 3 books of the Morganville Vampires series.
Rest assured, there will be more to come. I don't see myself giving this series up anytime soon.
It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows - one that will spill out into the bright light of day.
Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn't have the right connections - to the undead who run the town.
When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Hew new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood...
I was very nearly instantly hooked. Claire is an endearing main character, and she's getting pushed around by the ultimate Mean Girl, so when she goes to look at a room for rent in a house full of quirky characters who are the opposite of Monica the Mean, I was rooting for her. A lot of stuff happens in this first book, and Claire really finds herself in the thick of it all. There's always this nice level of tension, balanced by a good sense of humor. One thing I really loved was that you could tell, even in this first book, that there was a lot of mystery, a lot of backstory, for Rachel Caine to dive into and reveal as the series grew. Morganville didn't feel like it was going to be a false front; there was a real town behind there, and it was slowly going to make itself known to the reader.
I also have to say, I really like the characters Caine created in this series, and they started off strong in this book. They may all be a little too pretty to be real on occasion, but they feel more fleshed out and realized than you often get with the first in a series (especially when the series has been pushed out at such a quick pace), and there were enough little bits of their personalities and traits to see where future drama could arise. Strong foundation for the series, overall.
But can I just say, it was a damn good thing I had book 2 at hand with the way book 1 ended, or I would have been pissed. I can't imagine waiting to find out what happens, even if you think you've got it figured out.
Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls' Dance, hell is really going to break loose.
As I hinted at in the first review, Book 1 ends on a major cliffhanger. Book 2 picks up in the middle of the same scene, so there's none of that glossing over what happened and saying 'We've moved on from that...'
Some key players were introduced or had their roles expanded in this book, and it's almost like an action movie: there's constant danger, and you almost think it's too much, that no one would ever have to live through all this, or be able to live through all this -- but at the same time, you're on the edge of your seat, loving it. Eating. It. Up.
What's great about all of the dangerous people in this book is that you very rarely can call them pure bad guys. There is gray area there that makes them more relatable and human (even when they're not), and I love that. It's so much more interesting that way, when your loyalties and understanding is ever-shifting.
This book and parts of the next may have been a little heavy on the teenage lusting for me. I mean, I don't mind a good bit of lusting, but it can't overtake the entire story. But it is some good lusting.
The Dead Girls Dance built upon the solid foundation Glass Houses created, but a teensy little bit of the glow was lost for me.
Claire Danvers's college town may be run by vampires but a truce between the living and the dead made things relatively safe. For a while. Now people are turning up dead, a psycho is stalking her, and an ancient bloodsucker has proposed private mentoring. To what end, Claire will find out. And it's giving night school a whole new meaning.
And in book 3, that glow came back. I absolutely loved the new twists in this book. I adored the addition of Myrnin, the brilliant vampire who is slowly losing his mind. I think his relationship and interactions with Claire are great, and show Caine's writing potential well -- there is fear there, and the predator/prey relationship, but Claire and Myrnin are also very similar, and challenge each other and relate to each other in a great way. And even when Claire is afraid of Myrnin, she feels sorry for him, which I think spreads to the reader (as it should) as well. Stemming from this, I also really liked the introduction of the dangers the vampires are facing.
In light of it, Amelie's character and the existence of Morganville really begin to open up and make sense. Things also take on an added danger and tenuousness as a result of what is revealed, and I like the direction the story is heading.
A note overall: I do briefly have to talk about some of the potential negatives. Claire is constantly getting herself into sticky situations, or doing really dumb things. This would normally annoy me, but I need to qualify the last statement. They are dumb things, but they're not. Claire risks herself often, but it's always out of a sense of loyalty and protection (and the curiousity and confidence of a genius, and the invulnerability of youth), so what would normally bother me in a "No! Don't go up the stairs!" way really doesn't bother me in this series. Maybe it will as it goes on, but for now, it doesn't because I understand Claire and don't think she's just being an idiot. Impulsive, yes, but not idiotic. But it bears warning, because I know there are people out there who do find it irritating.
Also, I'm so glad we got to see more of the vampires in book 3 and add to their stories and characters, but I hope the three main characters begin to show more growth and dimension (and a little less angsty teen). They started off strong for me, but are running the line of getting stuck as they are, just frozen in their development while everything around them changes. I don't think this is necessarily what will happen, but I certainly don't want to keep covering the same ground.
But all in all, a pretty strong enjoyable series. I'm not promising great literature, but if you're looking for a fun series with a good group of characters and the potential to grow and expand like crazy, you could certainly do worse.
* Don't forget to check out my teaser of Glass Houses. And think long and hard before you move to Morganville.
Side Note: I used the Allison & Busby covers for the books because I like them so much more than the covers most people in the US are familiar with (those might even be what held me off from reading the books for so long). Because they are pretty, I used them for this post -- and because my copies are omnibus editions (multiple stories in 1), which looked like this: