While I have gone off teenage vampire books lately, it’s almost like Rachel Caine doesn’t really count. None of her books feature the traits commonly associated with the genre – InstaLove, whiny female main characters and pointless sex. Despite that, it’s been about a year and a half since I read the first two in the series. I don’t know why, but I do wish I hadn’t waited so long. The Morganville Vampire books are a much needed breath of fresh air into a somewhat stale genre.
Plot summary – 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.
I hadn’t bothered to refresh my memory of the first two Morganville books before I picked this one up, but fortunately it wasn’t that much of a problem. I think it may have been slightly better if I had, but I soon remembered the events of Glass Houses and Dead Girl’s Dance. Luckily, Rachel Caine is fairly good at recapping – it’s terrible when the next in a series doesn’t gently poke your memory back into action. I thought Insurgent was a good (or should that be bad?) example of that – the lack of recapping the first novel spoilt this book a little for me. That said, I definitely wouldn’t start the series with Midnight Alley, as I’m pretty sure it’d make absolutely no sense.
For me, this series wouldn’t be half what it is if it wasn’t for Claire, the protagonist. She kind of reminds me of myself, and not necessarily in a good way. She’s a tiny bit useless, but at least she knows it and she’s academically clever. She’s polite 100% of the time, even when it’s more than justified not to be, and tends to just… flail, when problems turn up. Maybe it’s because of her slightly flawed (but not overly so) personality, but she does seem like a believable character.
It’s a shame the rest of the characters aren’t as well rounded though.They seem to be somewhat plastic – characters that have a mold (the Goth one, the manly man, the artistic nice guy) but unfortunately just aren’t filled out enough. However, the introduction of Myrnin (whose name has wormed its way into my head as ‘Miffin,’ unfortunately) is wonderful. He’s a gifted vampire holed away in a dusty laboratory, trying to uncover the secrets of vampire lore. I hope he features in the rest of the series, as he’s a fascinating new character. I also liked learning more about the creation of Morganville itself – it’s an aspect that needed rounding out, and Rachel Caine has started along that line with this book.
Midnight Alley ends on a cliff-hanger, but not one that really makes me want to read on. Instead of frantically grabbing the fourth Morganville book, I don’t really want to touch it ever. It’s not a bad plot development at all, it just the story headed in a direction I personally didn’t want it to. I’ve been assured (*nods to Hannah*) that it’s worthwhile, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
I read this in just a few hours as I was so engrossed I just didn’t want to leave it alone. It’s just that much better written than normal YA and there’s no inappropriate content for teens. The author makes a point of there being no sex because Claire’s under-age and no drugs feature either. There’s a little violence, but nothing inappropriate for over 13s. Hell, I’m 22 and even I appreciate a young adult book where the main character lives with her boyfriend and there’s still no sexual content.
Although I didn’t like the ending, I’ll definitely be reading on. The introduction of
Miffin Myrnin and more explanation about Morganville’s existence hooked me – I can’t understand why it took me this long to pick up the third book.