Review: Bite Club by Rachel Caine

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

After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare—knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other—or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire—accompanied by her friends and frenemies—to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville...

Thoughts: Just a warning: this review is more of a rant than anything else.

My dislike of Shane/Claire has morphed into a burning hatred. He is turning her into a wimpy, cowing version of Bella Swan (sorry, Bella) – and it is so much worse because I KNOW Claire can stand up for herself. But when it comes to Shane, she is happy to roll over and let him call all the shots. In Bite Club, it went from bad to abuse.

While I understand that Shane was “damaged” during this book, I felt like a lot of his behavior was his “natural” behavior. It was like seeing Shane drunk: his inhibitions lowered and he turns violent. I am having the same Nash/Kaylee (Soul Screamers Series) problems with their relationship – but unlike that one, I know Shane/Claire one won’t end as happily for me. Loathe loathe loathe loathe.

In a way, it all comes down to Myrnin. I love is Claire and Myrnin’s mutual appreciation for each other’s intellect, and I think their partnership is fantastic. Midnight Alley remains my favourite book in the Morganville series almost entirely because it is a Myrnin/Claire book. That Claire has continued to work for him despite Shane acting like a nutcase is my only source of hope. Whenever Shane would start to rant about Claire working for Myrnin, I felt like I was witnessing a 1950s husband telling his wife to quit her job: it’s unfair, selfish and reflective of his own insecurities.

And I really don’t know where everything went wrong. I used to adore Shane and Claire together – he was protective, but not psychotic. I really thought I could “trust” Shane with Claire; that he would value her intellect and respect her choices. I am really starting to doubt that now.

So why am I still giving this book 3 stars? Well, unlike the last Morganville installment, this book certainly inspired emotion. That’s a step forward in the right direction… that they were negative emotions? Not so good.

Bottom line? Bite Club is a horrifically frustrating book. I keep reading on based on the strength of previous installments and in the (vain) hope of improvement.

Review: Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Review: Ghost Town by Rachel CaineGhost Town by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #9
Published by Allison & Busby
Pages: 479
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Kiss of Death, Bite Club

While developing a new system to maintain Morganville's defenses, student Claire Danvers discovers a way to amplify vampire mental powers. Through this, she's able to re-establish the field around this vampire-infested Texas college town that protects it from outsiders.

But the new upgrades have an unexpected consequence: people inside the town begin to slowly forget who they are-even the vampires. Soon, the town's little memory problem has turned into a full-on epidemic. Now Claire needs to figure out a way to pull the plug on her experiment- before she forgets how to save Morganville...

Thoughts: I really cannot believe I am writing a non-glowing-verging-on-negative review for a Morganville book. This series has consistently been one of my favourite reads – I thought that there could be no such thing as a bad Morganville book. But after reading Ghost Town, I remembered the problems I had with the first book in the series (Glass House). Namely, it just didn’t make me care about the characters.

Claire and the gang are, as usual, in the midst of another action-packed drama – this time centred around Claire and Mrynin’s experimental new machine. Now, that should make my knees turn to jelly, because a) I am head-over-heels in love with Myrnin, and b) I absolutely adore the Claire/Myrnin relationship. And yet their dynamic in this book is pretty much centred around Ada – which was just one of those characters I wish Caine would drop already. Seeing Myrnin – of all people – so love-crazy (instead of regular crazy) just annoyed me. There were a few scenes between them at the start of the book that I loved, but then it was all downhill.
Same goes for Amelie and Oliver – usually two kick-ass characters who seemed to spend this book going on and on about their unbelievable emotional angst. Not to mention the fact that they have been having the same argument about Morganville for nine books. Every time they brought it up, my eyes would start to glaze over. I get it already! Geez.

As for the Glass House residents, I have been growing less and less attached to them with each book. Shane/Claire used to make my heart pitter-patter, and now I feel like skipping through all their lovey-dovey business. I guess they’ve reached that point in their relationship where the camera would usually fade to black and display a “happily ever after” banner. It’s great for them, but not so interesting for us readers. Not that I want angst, per say, but some kind of development would be nice.

Bottom line? Depressing installment to a great series. I remain a fan, but have lost my faith in the series.

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel CaineKiss of Death by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #8
Published by Allison & Busby, Penguin on 2010-04-27
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Ghost Town, Bite Club

A new chapter in the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires saga. Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big- time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs-which means Michael will have to enter the human world. For this, he's been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael's all-too-human friends. And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell...

Thoughts: I remember reading that Rachel Caine had had a 6-book plan set out for the Morganville series when she started out. Kiss of Death is book 8 – and her lack-of-overarching-plan is kinda starting to show.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Kiss of Death. Caine’s verse is as addictive as ever.  I love these characters and their angst – so, really, how could I not enjoy another visit into their world? But Kiss of Death was definitely a step down from some of the other Morganville books. If I weren’t such a fan, I probably would have been less than impressed.

Kiss of Death takes place outside of Morganville. This is a first for the series which had had the characters literally confined to the city in previous books. Whilst a road trip might sound like a happy-go-lucky time for the gang, things never work out that way for Claire and co. So, there are plenty of new vamps, some kidnapping and, oh, a car chase or two.

Pretty cool… but also pretty pointless. Kiss of Death felt very episodic and monster-of-the-week. A cool monster, sure, but I couldn’t help thinking “… so?”  It was a far cry from the epic cliff-hangers of the first 5 books that literally stopped your heart.

Not to mention the most important failure: the epic lack of Myrinn. *cries softly whilst wearing vampire bunny slippers*

However, I do have hope for Morganville books of the future. Fade Out was friggin’ fantastic (and with plenty of Myrinn goodness) and managed to remain self-contained to a single book.

Bottom line? The Morganville Vampires series is fantastic – I highly recommend it. That said, Kiss of Death was not it’s greatest instalment.

Note to the UK publishers: Did something break when publishing Kiss of Death? My cover was in pieces after one light read – not to mention the book was littered with typos.  Not cool.

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.
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