Review: Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine

Friday, October 14, 2011

Title: Carpe Corpus
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: supernatural fiction, young-adult
Series: The Morganville Vampires #6
Pages: 384 (paperback version)
Published: 2009
Source: bought
Rating: 3/5

Sixth in a now-extended to 15 book series, Carpe Corpus delivers exactly what readers of her Morganville series want: compelling teen romances, vampires, teenage romances with vampires. . . and a steampunk computer named Ada. Wait.. what? The last bit is a little out of character for the predictable but fun book, and in this series you have appreciate any innovation and newness where and when you can find it. Though not my favorite offering Ms. Caine has yet had for Claire and Company, like every other other novel before it, Carpe Corpus had me tearing through chapters in order to make sure all my favorites made it safe and sound to the end. Never to be labelled the most innovative or compelling reads, The Morganville Vampires series continues on its previous trend of easily readable, intensely fun young-adult books.

Picking up from the rather large cliffhanger of Lord of Misrule, Carpe Corpus doesn't just wide the coattails of tension from the preceding installment. Once the previous threads are barely answered to the reader's satisfaction Ms. Caine is haring off on another high-emotion, fast-paced adventure. Claire's attitude and perspective come off as pretty unreasonable for much of the novel, and judgmental even with her only closest friends in town.  Claire has never been my personal favorite character (that honor goes to Shane/Eve/Amelie) and I never read these books for her particularly, but her attitude in this one was particularly egregious. Specifically in my mind, the incident with Michael over Frank Collins stands out and seemed not only insensitive but hypocritical on her part as Claire was guilty of the same nonaction as she was accusing Michael! Everything is ALWAYS about Claire Danvers, even when it is really Shane's trauma. I find my affection for Claire slipping more and more, with the secondary characters more than ready to pick up the slack. I actually enjoyed Richard Morrell and Oliver more than usual in this novel: changes in power, ideas, etc. reveal heretofore unguessed/un-looked-for facets to each personality. I found the random switch in Monica Morrell's bitchy attitude random and a let-down: her entire point is to be an antagonist and foil for Claire. With that gone, what's the point of the character?

There was some growth for the at least two of characters in this sixth novel. I'm obviously talking about Shane and Claire, for the most part, and anyone who has read the first five novels knows what I am referring to and what has been built up for about three novels too long. Yes, these two crazy kids in love finally do "it." And it was handled with more aplomb and less melodrama than I was preparing to endure. Yes the scenes are a bit cliche (hey - this is YA after all, it's not going to get graphic) but makes up in sincerity and sweetness what it was lacking in originality or flair. I personally have no problems with a seventeen year old character losing her virginity to her longtime boyfriend; I would've actually been bothered had it finally not happened - that would be completely unrealistic for two such hormonal - oh I'm sorry - in love teenagers and a bait-and-switch for the readers.

New technology is also added to the unique world/magic of Morganville. The long-mysterious and powerful doorway transports are revealed as a larger scheme of ADA. Ada was once a woman, in love with Myrnin and magicked/technologied into a human computer that controls the portals of Morganville, and thus the people of the town as well. Ada is a new twist for this series: nothing like her has graced Caine's pages or Claire's less-than-storybook life. She influences the actions of almost ALL the key players (Amelie, Myrnin, Bishop, Claire herself) and becomes a central plot point the other characters orbit.  As another former assistant of Myrnin, Ada serves as a cautionary tale to Claire and her future with her studies with Myrnin. His mental instability is proven again with Ada and her creation, causing further problems between vampire teacher and human pupil.

Ms. Caine wraps up several dangling plotlines from earlier novels in the series. The ultra-interesting (and most creative aspect of the entire series to date) vampiric disease is resolved, pretty satisfactorily. I didn't feel the solution was a deux ex machina as I'd feared, but neither was it as straight-forward as it initially appeared. There was almost complete resolution of the Amelie/Mr. Bishop power struggle over the last two novels as well. I felt a little unsatisfied with the ending of several big-bads of the novel, but that is a minor complaint for such a fun book. All in all, I think longtime fans of this series will be more than pleased with the eventual outcome of the book as well as eager for the next after finishing Carpe Corpus.

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