Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One creepy town

Claire Danvers is a freshman at a small college in a small town. She could have gone to a prestigious university on a full academic scholarship, but because she's only sixteen, her parents want her closer to home, and they think a small school is the best choice. Unfortunately, they have no way of knowing that Morganville is not the typical small town. Claire doesn't know that either - at least not yet.

Her immediate concerns involve a nasty girl named Monica, a beautiful but malicious student she inadvertently humiliated in front of a bunch of other students. Now Claire's laundry has disappeared down the garbage chute, and the next thing she knows, she's been beaten to a pulp and shoved down a very long, hard flight of stairs. Monica and her friends tell her that they'll be back to finish the job that night. Calling her parents for help is not an option - Claire knows they will just drive up and take her home, and her college "experiment" will be over.

Instead, she decides to look into moving off campus. And that is how Claire ends up on the doorstep of Glass House and becomes friends with goth girl Eve, handsome but apparently directionless Shane, and Michael, older and incredibly good looking, but with a few secrets of his own. The Glass House turns out to be one of the few places in Morganville where Clare can be absolutely safe. At least for a while...

This was an interesting opening to a series, which introduced the main characters and the creepy small-town vampire-infested setting, came to a bit of a conclusion, but left lots of loose ends to be explored in future volumes. There were things that worked well - the sense of isolation that Claire feels, the sense of foreboding the imbues so many of the scenes, the characters and their relationships with each other - those things kept me reading.

At the same time, there were times when the plot strained credibility. For example (and you might want to skip this part to avoid possible smallish spoilers): everyone in the town has been searching for an important book for decades. Claire decides the book will solve her problems, and it takes her less than 48 hours to track it down. Claire learns Michael's big secret within a few days of living in the house with him, but Eve and Shane have been living there for months and have no clue that he even has a secret. Claire's parents show up, find that she's not only living off campus without their permission, but living with underage boys who, they discover, have beer in their fridge. Instead of whisking her off with them, they tell her she must come home but give her two days before she has to leave, ostensibly so she can file her transfer paperwork (much needed time for the plot to work out, but simply unbelievable to this reader). My other issue was that the mean girls were scarier than the vampires, which seemed a bit odd in the scheme of things.

Still, it is an intriguing beginning, and the characters are compelling enough that I'm curious to see what will happen next. Many thanks to Reader Rabbits for recommending this series, which I hadn't even heard of before I read their review of one of the books.

I can't believe it's not even October, and I've finished my books for Carl's R.I.P III Challenge already! This is my fourth book, but I'll still be looking for fun, creepy reads this wonderful time of year! Don't forget to check out the review site to see the books other challengees are reviewing!

Books in the Morganville Vampires series:
1. Glass Houses
2. The Dead Girls' Dance
3. Midnight Alley
4. Feast of Fools

Glass Houses (#1 in the Morganville Vampires series) by Rachel Caine (NAL Jam, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
The Book Bag
My Inked Pages

7 comments:

  1. Okay, I've heard a ton of things about this series and you've finally convinced me. I'll see if I can get it this weekend.

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  2. It sounds interesting but I think I would have a problem with the plot problems that you pointed out...tell me this, is there romance?

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  3. Mean girls are of course scarier than vampires. I will have to take a look at some of the vampire series you list. People do demand a lot of vampire fiction.

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  4. Ladytink - I would be very interested to hear what you think of this one!

    VA Gal - yes, there is romance, and I should have mentioned it in my review. I have heard this series compared to the Smith ones that you enjoyed so much. I usually take the first in a series with a grain of salt - often there may be a slightly bumpy beginning, but then they get better. I'll let you know how the next one goes. This one did have many good things about it!

    Ms. Yingling - I had to laugh when I read your comment! You are, of course, right! I guess my issue was more that, if the vampires are going to be the big bads, the ultimate threat, they were definitely upstaged by the psychopathic mean girl, Monica. :-)

    And now that you mention it, I think I do demand a lot of vampire fiction - when it's done well, I just love to read it - ever since I read Dracula, I've been hooked! Unfortunately there is, as with all kinds of fiction, a wide range of quality, especially as it is such a popular genre these days.

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  5. Hey, congrats on finishing the challenge already! I hope you find more R.I.P.ing books to enjoy during the month of October.

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  6. I do have a copy of the first two books and hope to get to them soon. I will bear your negative comments in mind and temper my expectations though.

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  7. Thanks, Carl! I'm reading The Halloween Tree to my kids right now, and we're having a lot of fun with that. There are just so many great ones out there! Thanks for hosting the challenge - it sure is a lot of fun!

    Rhinoa - I did enjoy it quite a bit. I think since I started blogging about books I read a lot more critically than I used to. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts!

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