Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine #review

Title: Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Signet, 2006

This is another one of those novels I decided to read to see what all the fuss was about, and I finished Glass Houses with mixed feelings. If I have to compare it to its more famous cousin, the Twilight saga, I feel that Rachel Caine is the better author. But…

I just couldn’t find it within myself to get worked up into a frothy to read the rest of this series. I didn’t engage with the characters and the author’s writing, though the premise was certainly worth a second look.

Glass Houses is the story of child prodigy Claire Danvers, whose overprotective parents won’t allow her to study at one of the top universities she’s been accepted at, thereby forcing her to go to the one closest to home, at Morganville, ostensibly so they can keep an eye on her.

And here’s why I don’t think I liked Claire: her character feels too contrived—the nerdy girl who LOVES physics, is super intelligent but totally dorky. It’s *almost* screaming Mary Sue. I didn’t quite buy the fact that she’d had made no friends. Hell, I was the total epitome of dorkness at school, but I still managed to make *some* connections with others. I find it hard to believe that Claire seemed to exist in a bubble of isolation. Characters only seem to wash in and out of Claire’s almost solipsistic point of reference when it’s convenient for the author.

Her behaviour also annoyed me no end, and the whole time I felt she suffered from the “too stupid to live” syndrome. What sane person, when faced with extreme bullying, would muddle along and keep on going into dangerous situations without asking for help? A sheltered sixteen-year-old, away from home… Who *doesn’t* call her parents at the first whiff of trouble? I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. I needed more motivation from her to try on her own and I didn’t see it. All the time Claire bangs on about not being a kid, yet her behaviour in many of the situations didn’t strike me as anything but the behaviour of a juvenile.

All this being said, the interaction between the support cast was a patch of brightness. Shane, Michael and Eve offer a small diversion from Claire’s insistence on going out and doing stupid things. In the end, I don’t feel they’re enough to save the floundering plot, because when the action really starts heating up there are a lot of characters running around and not getting much achieved. So many times I kept asking myself, “Why is so-and-so doing this?” or “What did that achieve?” or “What just happened?” At crucial times I almost felt as if the writing was too fast, and some of the leaps of logic a bit too stretched (like the part which led Claire to finding a major McGuffin in the story).

I suppose if teen dramas are your thing, and you liked Twilight, you’ll probably like this. Unfortunately I kept wanting the story to deliver more complexity than it did in the end, and what I perceived as issues with characterisation and story arcs kept jerking me out of the narrative. I’m going to give the rest of this series a miss, and admit freely that the fault lies largely with me and my personal tastes.

1 comment:

  1. I've read a fair amount of Rachel Caine's books, but oddly enough, none in the Morganville vampire saga. I was initially turned off by reading yet another vampire saga about teens - I have a thing about that. Who the hell would want to be trapped in a 16 year old body forever? I have read her Weather Warden and Revivalist series - both with protagonists well above 16 - and enjoyed them both. I lean toward the Revivalist series because the Weather Warden series started off great but got increasingly hard to swallow with the world always about to end and Joanna saving the day one too many times. Her genie lover though - ahhh. Your review above, Nerine, makes me more than sure I won't read the Morganville saga any time soon. But I did just pre-order the third Revivalist novel. I guess this is a good example of how you won't necessarily like everything an author writes or that authors are particularly consistent in their offerings!