Backlist Review: Fade Out by Rachel Caine

Sunday, April 12, 2015
Title: Fade Out
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction
Series: The Morganville Vampires #7
Pages: 348 (paperback edition)
Published: November 2009
Source: bought
Rating: 3/5

Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again…

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve’s castmates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger—and way more dangerous—than anyone suspected. 

Say what I will about Claire Danvers, her ragtag group of misfits and Morganville itself - this is an addicting series. So what if plots often seem vaguely reminiscent of a previous novel from earlier down the line, so what if the setting gets old because the characters never go anywhere, I cannot deny that reading The Morganville Vampire series is just plain fun and a nice opportunity for some vampire escapism. Fade Out is another fine addition to this high-action and oftentimes silly series: slower in pace than recent novels yet still with plenty of action, but just as easy and quick a read. 

If I liked the easy feel to the novel, I hated Claire and Eve's interactions (or lack thereof....) for most of this novel. Usually in the first six books, the two are nearly inseparable besties, even when bickering, showing a normal, authentic teenage best-friendship (yeah, that's the word we're going with.) I was really bothered by Eve's attitude in Fade Out: her attraction to hang around Kim seems false and unnatural for such a stubborn character, one so devoted to her core group of Michael, Shane and Claire. I also just plain hated Kim: she's false and obvious from her first mention and what she does to the Misfits is just... disturbing, though not on the usual level (read: vampiric) for these novels. It's a pointed reminder that the human race often idealized by these four teens is often just as nasty and unpleasant as the suckers they so openly and often despise. I also liked the roving bands of violent humans targeting vampires or any of their "Renfields": at least it's just not the vampires as the bad guys anymore.

Claire managed to impress me with her maturity for once in Fade Out. Instead of just stubbornly arguing with her parents, compromises are reached, actual communication takes place and the world doesn't end. It's a miracle: I've only wanted Claire and her parents to do this for about three books now. Overdue, but I'll take what I can get. I just wish Claire's new-found maturity had extended to her problems with Eve in this novel. Kim's added attraction to Shane just reintroduced all the doubt Claire has had before and colored one of my favorite couples in this series. All their ensuing relationship drama because of Kim was just ridiculous (mostly because of Claire's immaturity to accept he had a life before he knew her...) and just annoyed me. It's seven books into a series (partly) revolving around Claire and her boyfriend: either their relationship is solid and beyond this silly high school stuff, or it isn't.

Amelie's character is shown to have a few new tricks - gone is the stoic, controlled vampiress from Roman days. With her enemy Bishop gone and the loss of her love, Sam Glass, Amelie is a shell of herself. I liked the "humanized" Amelie: she's not quite emo but she's damn close. (The bit between her and Eve at the Glass House was also really amusing for me personally.) Even when confronted with a possible mutiny from new-player English vampire Morley, Amelie is a shadow of herself. Grief is not unique to humans in this world, or is it that vampires have always been more human than they were willing/able to show? Either way, the current instability of Amelie's rule is a stark contrast to her iron-fisted policies of before. Her increased reliance on Oliver is also foreboding: nothing good can come of their complicated, twisted relationship.

Fade Out, as per usual with these books, is a very action-packed novel. Though the characters develop more and more with each novel, the focus is clearly on the dangerous escapades the gang gets into throughout the pages. Between a jealous homicidal vampire steampunk computer to fanged bunny slippers (you knew Myrnin had to get some kind of mention in this review...) to Pennywell's creepy androgyny, Fade Out is a race to the finish. I may have felt the plot was a bit thin in some parts and hated some character's arcs (Monica: I don't buy it for a second... bitch) but I was never unsatisfied with my reading experience. Though it will never be considered a great novel nor a book that will make you think after shutting the back cover, Fade Out is pure teenaged vampire escapism and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. 

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