“While developing a new system to maintain the town’s defenses, genius student Claire Danvers discovers a way to use the vampires’ powers to keep outsiders from spreading news of Morganville’s “unique” situation.
But when people in town start forgetting who they are-including the vampires-Claire has to figure out how to pull the plug on her experiment before she forgets how to save herself…and Morganville.”
After the first eight books in the Morganville Vampires series, two things remained true: 1. Its high ranking among my favorite young adult urban fantasy series didn’t budge, and 2. It continued to please with quality story-telling, fast pacing, and consistently good plot advancements. Moving into Ghost Town, the series’ ninth installment, my enjoyment didn’t dim so much as my reading took a critical turn.
From where I sit, the strongest selling point of this series has always been the four foundation characters: Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael. Defined by distinct personalities and identifying traits, each is comfortingly familiar, an old friend; for the very first time I found that familiarity chafing. To be clear: I adore the dynamic of their friendship; I love the romantic relationships and how the pairings make the group stronger as a unit. If either aspect were to change, I would be upset. But when it comes to character development, they’ve…stagnated. Each is locked into a specific role that’s been set on repeat for eight novels. But that actually, and perhaps surprisingly, is not where my frustration lies.
What has begun to bother me is the fact that Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael struggle and fight, and they prevail – for the most part – in each book, but only ever gain tenuous ground. Recent installments have seen a bleak tone settle in, which makes me wonder: Is peace and lasting happiness possible for them? The group appears to be resigned to their fate: being threatened is nothing new, and they’ve long since adapted to looking over their shoulders. But as a reader who has come to care about them, I’m not. I’d like to see the ground they gain after each victory – however small – begin to mean something.
Another first: the narrative voice took a step back with minor inconsistencies and annoying parenthetical asides. I’ll start with the latter and an example:
“Mom wasn’t in the bathroom, but Claire was relieved (no pun intended) to get there anyway.”
The following example illustrates both points:
“…she didn’t know what good it was going to do her to know Amelie had once filed a complaint against a man who owned a dry-goods store (what was a dry-good store?) for cheating the human customers.”
Claire – smart, quick on the uptake, early college enrollment Claire – was suddenly asking what a miasma was and had no clue what a dry-goods store might be. Because of who she is – and what she is continuously asked to do – for either of those things to catch her up is too hard to swallow. And each time I encountered an aside, I wondered why it was there as there never seemed to be relevance attached to it.
My reading experience wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Myrnin, in all of his delicious, unstable glory, was a key player once again, and lit up every scene he was in. He is quickly climbing the rungs to be one of my favorite vampire characters in fiction. There was an interesting development (or two) between Amelie and Oliver. And there’s always Shane, who never fails to please.
Ghost Town was good if not great, and was as quickly read as all the rest. The premise of Bite Club, however, which looks to introduce a change of plot pace, has ensured my anticipation for its release next month.