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Monday, March 1, 2010

'Morganville Vampires' SERIES by Rachel CAINE


‘Glass House’ BLURB:

Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Just don't stay out after dark.

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'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

The premise of this series is that vampires have created a living ‘social experiment’. Set in the modern world vampires exist, unbeknownst to humans everywhere except Morganville, Texas. In this little community hundreds of vampires have taken it upon themselves to live side-by-side with humans. It’s not a case of ‘living in harmony’, rather the vampires see this town as the best of all worlds – they don’t have to live in secret, on the outskirts of humanity because the Morganville residents know of their existence. The people of Morganville also can’t tell anyone about the vampires because there is strict surveillance of the postal service, Internet servers and phone lines. Residents also can’t leave because of a magical barrier surrounding the town – but if some do manage to escape, this magic puts a block on their memories, effectively giving them amnesia (and terrible headaches) whenever they try to think about the town of Morganville.

The vampires also have the luxury of a constant, ready blood supply. Morganvillians don’t pay regular taxes – instead they give a blood ‘donation’. And if the vampires tire of their complacent feeding habits, the local Texas Prairie University offers freshman snacks if any students wander off the campus’s beaten path.

And to top it all off, vampires are secure in their knowledge that they are at the top of the food chain. In Morganville vampires reign supreme, and over the years the town’s social structure has come to reflect the predatory residents – vampires have their various ‘minions’ who act in servitude to various vampires in exchange for protection.

The protagonist of this series is fifteen-year-old Claire Danvers. Claire is a child genius studying at Texas Prairie University. She, like all other interstate students at the Uni, are totally unaware of Morganville’s vampire population. It isn’t until a bout of bullying forces Claire to seek off-campus housing that she is made aware of the town’s deep, dark secret. Claire rents a room at the ‘Glass House’ – owned by eighteen-year-old Michael Glass and shared with his two friends, Shane Collins and Eve Rosser. This trio of misfits are the bane of Morganville – each rebelling against the vampire residents and resenting of their bottom-feeder position in the town hierarchy.

This is my all-time favorite YA Urban Fantasy series.

One of the reasons I love this series so much is the cast of misfit protagonists. None of the main characters really fit the bill of ‘hero’ – and I think that makes them fantastic role models for the YA readership.

Claire is a thorough geek. She loves studying, research, books and anything scientific. She isn’t concerned with fashion or makeup – and because of her geeky tendencies, she is severely bullied at school. She is definitely not you’re typical heroine, and that’s what I like about her. Claire doesn’t think of herself as a hero, but she proves time and time again that she is brave, loyal and honest. She isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and she will always come to her friend’s aid. She’s a really great role model for young women and I appreciate the fact that Caine has written such an unconventional protagonist in Claire Danvers.

Eve Rosser is a goth girl – she dresses in fishnets and ‘Emily strange’ paraphernalia with thick kohl eyes. Eve’s fashion is a statement to Morganville vampires – she is essentially making fun of their popular culture persona. Eve has a sad background – her parents ‘sold’ her to a vampire guardian in return for protection. Never mind that this vampire had a disturbing predilection for children. Eve may have a depressing background, but she is a wise cracking young woman who is fiercely loyal to her friends.

Shane Collins is the Morganville bad boy. He is very vocal about his hatred of vampires and at every opportunity he rails against ‘the establishment’. His best friend, Michael Glass, is similarly disgusted by the town vampires and together they are considered by the local law enforcement to be the town’s ‘primary suspects’ when anything untoward occurs.

I especially love this series because Caine doesn’t ‘talk down’ to her audience. She has her characters dealing with serious as well as supernatural issues – like Eve dealing with her family life and how hard it was for her to realize that what her family wanted wasn’t necessarily what was best for her. Or storylines concerning Claire’s being bullied. Caine does a great job of mixing in regular pertinent teen issues with more fantastical plots. And sometimes the line blurs between the two, and the supernatural elements become just as relevant as the more relatable obstacles;

“You want to talk about it?” she asked. No answer. He blinked; that was all. “She got to you, didn’t she? Somehow, she got to you.”
For a long few seconds, she thought he was just going to lie there and ignore her, but then he said, “They get inside your head, the really strong ones. They can make you - - feel things. Want thing you don’t really want. Do things you’d never do. Most of them don’t bother, but the ones that do – they’re the worst.”
Claire reached out in the darkness, and his hand met hers midway – cool at first, then growing warm where their skin touched.
“I don’t want her, Claire,” he said. “But she made me want her. You understand?”

I also love this series because of the heady dose of romance at its centre. Claire and Shane are one of my favourite UF couples – but their romance is tricky, not least of all because Claire is 15 to Shane’s 18, when they first meet. For the first few books Shane and Claire have to wait for Claire to ‘come of age’ before they get too hot and heavy. Which is surprisingly fine, because it gives them a chance to become quite romantic before they get steamy (which they do –eventually). I love Shane/Claire because when she first meets him, Shane is a bit of a slacker. The town ‘bad boy’ –but Claire makes him want to be a better person, and his transformation over seven books has been a delight to read.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, Rachel Caine is a cinematic writer. Her action scenes read beautifully and make for a roller-coaster ride. She writes superb villains and edge-of-your-seat drama that keeps the ‘Morganville Vampires’ series entertaining seven books deep.

The books are short (roughly 256 pages) but Caine usually releases two books every year. This year ‘Kiss of Death’ is released April 27th and ‘Ghost Town’ November 2nd.

I cannot recommend this series enough. LOVE them to death!

5/5



10 comments:

  1. LOVED you review!!!! I absolutely love love love this series!!!! I cant wait for the next books =)))

    Shane rocks!!! LOL

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  2. This is your favorite YA UF series? Alright, no longer putting it off - on my next trip to the bookstore I will come home with at least the first two books.

    Wonderful review!

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  3. I agree, defintely one of my absolute favorite UF series. I have a crush on Shane that qualifies me as a total pervert *sigh*.

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  4. Another series we have in common! I have to share in the Shane love, too; he's awesome. :) So, so, soooo cannot wait for KISS OF DEATH!!

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  5. Started reading book 1 yesterday - love it! Hope you don't mind I tweeted your review...

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  6. Patti - that's fine, thanks for the tweet. Glad you're enjoying 'The Glass House'!

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  7. Claire is 16 when first introduced, not 15. But good review..

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  8. brilliant post! i really can't wait for KISS OF DEATH, but it comes out the same day as the next HOUSE OF NIGHT BOOK, BURNED, well that is if your in the US, I live inn the UK, so it comes out on the 3rd May, and not quite sure about GHOST TOWN, oh well... brilliant post again and I would recomend the house of night sereis, by P.C and Kristin Cast, they are another vampire book series and will get you hooked too.. just thought that might help :)

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  9. These are amazing books. I really like your choice in character. I think this series would make a great tv series. I think it could go far! Your and amazing writer.

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  10. i love all of them they are amazing shane is sexy i so argee wit ya all tooo

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