Title: Glass Houses
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: supernatural/paranormal, young-adult
Series: The Morganville Vampires #1
Pages: 348 (paperback version)
While I enjoyed this foray into Morganville and originally planned in-depth reviews for the six I've bought, I found this to be a bit light on substance. Claire, girl-brainiac of only 16 ("nearly 17," as it's repeated ad nauseam throughout the story) moves to Morganville to pursue a quiet, safe first two years of college. Unfortunately for her, and quite illogically, this sunny Texas town is the refuge of vampires - and they control the town with an iron fist. No vegetarian hunters of the night here - these vampires have fangs and they bite. Using a system of exchange called Protection not unlike the Mafia, certain families and people are relatively safe, and University students... are the cattle. With the ridicously quick-moving plot and excessive amounts of action, it's easy to feel the danger and tension of the sleepy little Texas town.
In the dangerous but unbeknownst-to-the-university-students Claire finds herself up against evil in a more normal, every-day form: the girl bully. Monica Morrell is actually the secondary antagonist in this though she is the first to appear. Though soon most of Claire's issues will be supernatural in origin, Monica keeps Claire firmly rooted in the mundane world. Counterpoint to Monica's stereotypical (if not totally unamusing) cliches is the character of Claire's best friend, Eve Rosser. Unique, morbid and charmingly Goth, Eve doesn't get much development but one fact is certain: she's an extremely loyal friend. The male characters (and eventual love interests for both Eve and Claire) are the mysterious Michael Glass and the surly Shane Collins. While each of the boys has an interesting and conflicting history, I was more drawn to the bad-boy-ish Shane; his defiant attitude serves as a nice foil for the rules-loving Claire. I also loved the dynamic between this group of friends and lovers; no squabbling over who likes whom, no petty backstabbing. Instead, Glass Houses has a core of four (relatively) normal, flawed and human characters.
With a very complete world set in Morganville, this is an easy if simple read. It's engrossing and fun, but it's far from the best vampire novel I've read this month (coughDrink,Slay,Lovecough). I'd recommend for a brainless read for pure entertainment and hot teenage boys with issues. There's resolution enough for this novel at the end with a clear and interesting climax. The stage is neatly set with a classic cliffhanger to ensure continued reading. Though it may be full of cliches and illogical, Glass Houses is a fun vampire read. You honestly can't help but have fun with Claire and her improbable escapes and lovably ridiculous friends.
Title: The Dead Girls' Dance
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: supernatural/paranormal, young adult
Series: The Morganville Vampires #2
Pages: 380 (paperback version)
Claire Danvers is back, with all her messy adventures and crazy friends in tow. Round number two in the dangerous, vampire-infested college town of Morganville has all the fun, escapades and narrow escapes as the first one. In this one, Claire and Eve are invited to a Zombie Party, but with nasty hidden intentions. Not relying on the familiar path to reemerge, the author happily does a bit of explaining in this second novel. New important information about (my personal favorite character) Shane emerges, as do key players from his sad past. Claire also rounds out her personality a bit, though her main focus seems to be Shane and school. I can't complain too much - I like far more about Claire than irritates me.
Surprises are certainly in store for readers of this novel! One thing I liked so much about the first novel - that all the main characters were humans in a vampire-controlled world - is no more. Claire has sold her soul to Amelie for safety and Michael Glass, former half-ghost sustained by his creepy house, has been turned into a vampire in this novel. This was a twist I did not see coming and the complications for his and Shane's relationship were one of the most compelling aspects of the book. That's not to mention the unclear ramifications for Michael's fledgling relationship with Eve. However, limiting one fourth of the characters to a single setting also severely limited the scope of the first story, which is no longer a problem. While a lot more emotional in feeling and tone than Glass Houses, Dead Girls' Dance is just as breakneck in pace. Things happen in Morganville and they happen fast. A lot happens in very few pages, so I found myself having to flip back to different points occasionally, just to ensure I knew who was where, with who and doing what. The reader definitely is involved in all the action and running around; there is a unshakeable feel of racing against the clock for most of the book.