Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #1

Published October 3rd 2006

Publisher: NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 248 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

First book in a series of 12. About Claire who moves to Morganville, Texas as a freshman in college and befriends the older teens Shane, Eve and Michael. Soon the sinister secret of Morganville is revealed - the town is ruled by vampires. And Claire and her friends find themselves in the midst of it all. This is a fun page-turner, with non-stop action, and a little bit of romance. Not enough character depth and a cliff-hanger-ending drags grade down.

A few chapters in:

After reading Twilight, I did what many others did. I went on the hunt for other similar vampire series. Numerous Twilight-reading-lists and recommendations later, I had gathered the following information:

There are two young adult vampire series out there worth getting into (for a 30-year-old), both having earned a huge fan-base and great reviews: The Vampire Academy and The Morganville Vampires. Problem with the latter was that at the time I was craving a vampire story a la Cullens i.e. nice vampires who refrained from killing humans. Not the case with the Morganville Vampires whose vampires are..well not exactly the good guys. Hence, the book ended up on my TBR pile and there it was, forgotten, while I plowed through one young adult series after another reading about pretty much every mythical creature out there except vampires (sirens, shapeshifters, werewolves, fallen angels, fairies, demons, ghosts and the list goes on..).

Now, almost a year later, I feel I’m ready to delve into another vampire series where (gasp!) they are actually the evil guys. Not only ready, I’m looking forward to it! Time has come for the Morganville Vampires.

I’m now a few chapters in. Brainy and studious Claire is just starting classes at the Texas Prairie University in Morganville, Texas as a freshman, at only 16 years of age. Problem is, this doesn’t sit well with other students, in particular a certain Monica, leader of a terrifying girl gang.

During a scary encounter in the dorm with them, Claire is pushed down a flight of stairs. Feeling lonely and badly bruised she decides to try to find somewhere else to stay, seeing as her dorm no longer seems like a safe alternative.

Following an add in the paper, she finds a room in a house in downtown Morganville, to share with the group of older teens Eve, Shane and Michael. Through them she soon learns that there are things out there far more scarier than Monica and her gang of girls.

It turns out Morganville carries a rather sinister secret. The town is run by vampires, who operate like a type of mafia. You’re either with them and get protection or you’re not, meaning there is a high possibility you’ll end up as one of many strange disappearances. Claire is having a hard time at first believing in the existence of vamps (who wouldn’t) but as the days go by, she reluctantly grows to accept it as the only plausible explanation to all the strange happenings around there .

And this is as far as I’ve got, but I’m already feeling the pull. I’ve got the same excited feeling as when I started reading the Mortal Instruments series. Claire (as well as Clary) is an ordinary girl who teams up with a cool group of older teens and friends, to explore a supernatural world she had no idea existed. As in the City of Bones I’m immediately warming to the characters, in this case Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael, and I’m feeling really curious to see what will happen next. In short, I’ve got a good feeling about this series.

After finishing the book:

I’ve just finished the book and I liked it. It’s a great fun page-turner and a good start to a series.

It had everything you’d want in a paranormal fiction series. Intriguing world-building, friendship, romance and of course lots and lots of action. I loved the latter of course seeing as that was one of the reasons why I kept turning pages. Yet, the non-stop action overshadowed character development, which is why this story never reached amazing grading levels for me. (As you know, the characters are the number one priority for me in a book.)

However, the characters are all likable, and they have distinct characteristics, so that’s all good. I just needed a bit more depth to really start caring for them. Though I assume more depth will be provided in the following books.

There is romance as well, and it develops quite slowly, which I liked. First they hang out, become friends and only then, after some time does it become more. I wasn’t even sure until about half way through the book which one of the two boys would take on the romantic lead (surprising seeing as my romantic antenna is usually pretty alert and spot-on). Either way, it doesn’t blossom into anything more than those first tentative steps. Too much fast-paced action going on in the background for that. But I look forward to see how it develops.

Lastly, but not least, the premise of this series is intriguing in itself. What would happen if vampires were to rule a city? How would that work? Some of the details of this concept is explained in this initial book, but others are left out, which makes me curious to continue reading. For instance, I would like to know more of the background and the hierarchy of the vampire rulership. And why is it that some vampires can stay out during the day albeit not in direct sunlight? Moreover, are all vampires evil or are there exceptions?

I’m sure these questions (and more) will be addressed in the following books, and I’m looking forward to get the answers, as I return to the town of Morganville in a very near future. One thing that lowered the grade however was the cliff-hanger ending, which had the book ending practically in the middle of an action scene. You probably will want to have acquired the sequel The Dead Girls’ Dance by the time you finish this book.

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