Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)
NAL Jam Books
Young adult fantasy
October 3, 2006
From the author of the popular Weather Warden series. 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.
Want one reason exemplifying why this series is awesome up front? It has the series title and order on the covers. Shaaa-wing! Maybe someone looked at the author’s Weather Warden books and thought, That’s sure is a nice idea, let’s do that on her YA titles, too. Or vice versa. Whichever way the wind blows, thank you gods of reading for any series that labels order sequence on the covers. People everywhere with too little memory capacity, like me, thank you.
That being said, what a fun little book this was. Easy, breezy and full of…an interesting plot? Get this, I enjoyed this one most of all for it’s plot. Will wonders never cease. If you’re new enough here to think I’m rambling about something dumb, I’ll reiterate that I’m usually purely a character-driven reader. I need the characters to represent. They often do for me amidst plots that sound too familiar, yet the characters will pick up the slack and turn a familiar story into something new and fresh.
For me, the Morganville Vampire series has been all about the plots so far (I’m on about book four or so). Claire is a cute enough character with her adorable dweebish dedication to her education. Eve is a fun inclusion with her bad-ass Goth girl self; Michael is the dreamy musician that sounds too good to be true and Shane is the resident bad boy with a chip on his shoulder. And we really don’t learn to awful much about them aside from their surface thoughts, feelings and actions. Or it feels like we don’t. Instead of using the characters and their actions, thoughts, etc. to lead it all, the plot is actually pulling all the strings in this book. The plot is the means through which the author is enabling us to learn more about the characters (and the author might be all like, I am? But it sure feels that way to me.). The book is very action-oriented, with lots going on every minute. The pace never slows down and as short as it is, there doesn’t seem to be much room for in-depth characterization anyway.
That all being said, I loved it. I don’t know if my brain was just fried at the time, but this was exactly what I need, obviously. Given that I normally disdain a book that doesn’t exactly develop characters very well, Glass Houses was a surprise to me. It turned out to be a good one though. I got to the end of it thinking – this would make a great TV series. It reads like a really well-scripted TV show. It’s as if I could even see it all playing out in my head, as if I was indeed watching it on-screen. I found this aspect to be rather cool, actually.
In addition to the plot, Caine has produced a refreshing world for her vampires and their inferior but no less important human inferiors. There are some basic vampire similarities to other vamp series: vampires are the infinitely superior breed and they show it in their treatment of humans; humans are the food supply; etc.. But then there is a lot we don’t know after Glass Houses is done – why do vampires control Morganville in the first place? Are there other communities like it elsewhere? How does the vampire “magic” work? There are so many questions, and it’s all so interesting. The book is actually a great mystery, and I don’t usually subscribe to mystery reads, not ones with this many questions. But they’re all enticed nicely and I found myself speeding through the book.
Claire is our introduction to it all, and with her initial actions against a town bully by the name of Monica (who feels over-the-top in her bullying, but even this aspect is explained via the plot and became more believable), we begin a tidal wave of discovery in Glass Houses. It’s a classic case of no one is who they seem, and around any corner could be some new twist. Caine does an excellent, and I mean excellent, job of enticing the reader along, giving just the right amount of info and setting up for the next book. On the setting up though, if you’re not a fan of cliffhanger endings, and you find yourself feeling hooked at all while reading this one, you may as well just go ahead and buy the second book before you’re done. Caine does leave you hanging in a big way. I had actually gotten that hooked feeling about halfway through Glass Houses and ordered the second book, glad to be able to continue on to it straight away.
I asked on Twitter after first getting into this book if there was a romantic subplot at all, I could sense one coming, and it was confirmed that there was. I won’t spoil who Claire herself is interested in, only that I can’t see why she’d be interested in said feller. In my opinion, said feller is lame and I have not grown to appreciate him as a character. In this instance, I felt it would be nice if Caine had made her characters a little stronger, but then some plot point would come along and distract me all over again.
If you enjoy young adult vampire novels, but thirst for something a little more exciting plot-wise, this is a great series to try. Glass Houses introduces a fun twist to the vampire genre and kept me very entertained. If it had included in-depth characters as well, it would likely have been a perfect score, but as is, it’s a winner for everything else it includes. Gotta save room for future books, I suppose.