Friday, February 12, 2010

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

glass houses cover

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

This is the first book in The Morganville Vampires, a YA series.  Although I liked the premise of the book, the execution was illogical, and the book as a whole felt like the author was just making up stuff as she went along.

Claire Danvers is very young freshman in the college town of Morganville, Texas, and her life is miserable.  Basically, she has no friends, and is the object of mean girl Monica's severe bullying.  One day Monica pushes her down the stairs and promises more, and Claire panics.  Looking through the paper, she finds an add for a room to rent at Glass House, off campus.  Even though she can't live off campus, and isn't really allowed to sign a lease because she's a minor, the three people at Glass House--Eve, Shane, and Michael--are convinced by her bruises and general pitifulness to let her stay there.  That's when Claire discovers Morganville isn't what it seems:  the town is actually ruled by vampires, who control the place like it's another Stepford.  Any human who doesn't wear a bracelet declaring "protection" by a vamp is fair game for munching. 

This book isn't completely terrible--I did like the idea of a town that's controlled by vampires, and the story flows along nicely with some interesting twists.  But I had a hard time getting through it simply because Claire's actions make nooooo freaking sense whatsoever.  In fact, as I was reading, I was mentally composing a letter to her that went something like this:

Dear Claire,

I know you like school--hell, I spent ten years in college, so believe me, I can sympathize with having a sick enjoyment of studying--but you know what?  If I, or any SANE person, was being put through as much bullying as you, I would have dropped out.  Especially if I was at a university I was only attending because my parents were making me, and the academics sucked, and I had no friends, and I was sixteen.  I would have called my parents to come pick me up when Monica pushed me down the stairs.  I would have asked them to pick me up when they called me and offered to let me come home.  I would have left Morganville when I found out it's a psycho town full of evol vampires, and that I was putting the only three people who'd been decent to me in danger by my very presence.  And then I sure as heck would have gotten out when someone threw acid at me.  In other words--YOU ARE FREAKING IDIOT.  I don't understand why you didn't leave, especially as you were given plenty of chances to, and probably should have done so from both a moral and survivalist standpoint.  If the university was your dream college, I might let it slide.  If you were enjoying your independence or your parents told you they never wanted to see you again, I might understand.  But as it stands, you don't make sense.  Kthnxbai.

Oh, and by the way, another main character who reads.  Yawn.

The writing was okay, although very simple and probably geared more toward the middle school crowd.  As far as plotting goes, however, this novel is just sad.  It's one step above cartoonishly simple and really does feel as the author was just making stuff up as she went along and not thinking about the book as a whole or how all the pieces fit together.  Making the college in Morganville a good school instead of a bad one, for example, would be a quick fix for a lot of the holes in the plot--not just why Claire stays there, but why anyone goes there who isn't born in Morganville.  I mean, the school is quite violent, and apparently several students "disappear" from there every year.  Their crime statistic reports has to be through the roof; why would any parent let their child go there?  And when I can see the quick fix for problems with the plot, that's pretty sad.

For older readers who have some idea of what college is like, I wouldn't recommend this as anything but a time waster read.  I would say it might work for younger readers, but I'm afraid the vision Caine paints of college--which is completely unlike any university I have ever been to--will scare them off ever wanting to attend.  And we can't have that, now can we?

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