Review: Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine

Review: Midnight Alley by Rachel CaineMidnight Alley by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #3
Published by Allison & Busby, Penguin on 2007-10-02
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town, Bite Club

Morganville is such a nice place to live...and die. If you don't mind that sort of thing. When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but that garlic may come in handy. Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire's past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.

Rec for people who love: Buffy – aka action with a laugh and some love.

Thoughts: This series just goes from awesome to awesome.

Yet again, Caine delivers.  This book is my favourite in the series (at least books 1-5). In MA, she gets right down to business – dealing with Michael’s new vampireness, the implications of Claire’s contract and adds even more new twists along the way. Yet again, Claire is put through the ringer – and it changes her. Don’t get me wrong, she is still the Claire we all love to love, but she does a fair bit of growing up in this book.

As for her relationship with Shane, gosh.  It just gets better and better. It is hard to find a pairing where rooting for both sides just comes naturally – where you look at both sides of the relationship – but with Shane and Claire, it comes easy. It is quite a feat.

What makes this as my favourite in the series is the exploration of Claire’s intellect. Her education, and what she does with it, is pushed way past Hermione-like expectations. And let’s just say her interaction with her new teacher is… Mind-blowing.

Another thing I loved was how Caine dealt with the ever rising number of secrets that Claire is forced to keep. She hates keeping them, but knowing she has no choice, she does a really good job with giving vague answers. A definite change from the girl in the first book.

Caine also delves into the mythology behind Morganville – something that had been lacking in the first two books. Let’s just say it is more interesting than she had let on!

This book kept me up all night – again. So try to set aside a good chunk of time before you get started!

Review: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

Review: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel CaineThe Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #2
Published by Allison & Busby, NAL Jam
Pages: 320
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, Midnight Alley, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town, Bite Club

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.

Rec for people who love: Smart young heroines, maturity in YA, and Buffy!

First Line: It didn’t happen, Claire told herself.

Thoughts: Let me just start off by saying: WOW.

Considering how ambivalent I was about the first book in the Morganville Series, this one definitely changed my mind! After the cliffhanger at the end of the first book, the characters continue their epic search for a little bit of peace – but to no avail. Just as one problem is solved, another pops up unexpectedly. Claire was extremely sleep deprived during the entire book, and to say that Caine put her through a lot is an understatement. Also, the series got a bit gruesome in this book. Details of which I don’t want to spoil, but lets just say that the Dead Girls’ Dance that Claire attends could have been a lot more than traumatic.

This book ultimately was about sacrifice – those who are willing to give their lives for their friends, versus those who barely spare a thought for their own family. Claire, Micheal, Eve and Shane demonstrate how much they care by how much they are willing to give away. They did it willingly, but it was never an easy choice to make. Unlike, say, Bella in the Twilight Series – who considered her life so worthless that sacrificing it for Edward only made me roll my eyes – Caine’s characters value their lives, their own hopes and dreams. Like, you know, sane people.

It was their sacrifices that ultimately made me love this book. I my mind, Shane went from being a random angry guy to become the love-of-my-life, tortured soul; while Claire went from being a spineless bookworm to a brave, kick-ass-yet-sensitive heroine. In just 300 pages. Sheesh.

Note on the Cover: As I mentioned in my post about the first book, this UK cover makes me cringe. Apparently publishers cottoned on to this, as new UK editions have just been released with hot new covers. So basically, you can either go to your local bookstore, which will probably still have the old editions, to get the cover in this post. Or you can go to a store with rapid turnover/order it from Waterstones (where they are currently 1/2 price) to get the new cover. Or, as I did, buy the US edition from BookDepository.co.uk.

Other Reviews:

  • LoveVampires only gave it 2 stars (SPOILERS) (despite a 5 star rating for the first). Even though I loved the book, the review brings up an important issue regarding a particular scene in the book that is… not so pleasant. Let’s just say I understood Claire’s reaction in this case but usually I would also have been put off.

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel CaineGlass Houses by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #1
Published by Allison & Busby, NAL Jam
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
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Also in this series: The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town, Bite Club

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they come out fighting when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood...

On the day Claire became a member of the Glass House, somebody stole her laundry.

Thoughts: Okay, I can’t help myself. I have to bitch about the cover* – all the Morganville UK covers in fact. Who on earth are these random girls supposed to be? I am assuming it is supposed to be Claire, if we decide to, you know, ignore her description. Not to mention the painful clashing colours and fonts and just… eww. This is one of those books I just won’t take on the tube. If you can, get the US edition which is fierce.  ETA: The covers I was ranting about were these – luckily the publishers reissued these books back in 2010 with much better covers, now including in this review.

Moving on. The book – it was enjoyable, but not amazing. Glass Houses is very different to most YA Vampire books out at the moment, because unlike the House of Night Series or the Twilight Saga – Vampires are so not the good guys. They are soulless SOBs, and the humans in their control are not much better. Monica, a college girl who immediately puts Claire on her hit list, has a violent streak that would make Angelus (BtVS) look like a weakling. She was psychotic, but extremely enjoyable.

With all this evil going around, the book is action packed. There are hospital stays, kidnappings, sieges, breaking-and-enterings, and a lot of run-for-your-life moments. But unlike say, Kelly Armstrong or Rachel Vincent, Caine is not too great at describing the action. I often had to go back a page or two to work out what was going on.

Caine also didn’t succeed in making me feel for any of the characters. All the action meant that character development was left out. It was one of those cases where you are just ohsoclose to relating to the protagonist when, bang, you’re back to apathy. I understood that the characters were supposed to be scared – but the writing just didn’t make me feel it. The romantic tension was pretty un-tense, and the scary scenes were pretty bland.

This book barely gets three stars, although I do plan on getting the rest of the series. Hopefully my interest in the characters will grow the more I read.

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