The Evernight Academy Series, by Claudia Gray

Start with what you know, right?

Lately my reading tastes have leaned toward what one of my colleagues at the shop calls “Kissy-Bitey” books, i.e. those that have characters who are vampires.  I think you can figure out what’s kissy and what’s bitey.  The first foray into this sub-genre for me, as for many of us adults that now frequent the YA or teen sections in bookstores and libraries, was the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer.

By the way, may I just take a minute to address those adults in question:  There is nothing wrong with getting your books from the YA/Teen section.  A lot of fiction aimed at kids aged 13-21 these days is very well written and worth a look, so stop pretending you were really browsing the tail end of adult fiction or catapult yourself toward sci-fi when someone catches you standing in front of the likes of the aformentioned Ms. Meyer.

Right, so back to the review.

Evernight is the first book in this series (which at this point has three books but I understand will have six by the conclusion).  While I feared the worst when I picked this series up, it completely surprised me with its depth of characters and realistic teenage dialogue.  Veering off sharply from what seems to be the prescription for a best seller in the Kissy-Bitey category (girl moves to new school, girl meets fascinating boy, one of them is a vampire and BAM, unrequited love), the focus of the first book is on Evernight Academy where Bianca (who, she explains, was named for a Shakespearean character, a bonus point in my geeky book!) is to begin school in the fall.   There is a very sweet relationship between Bianca and her parents, which breaks rule number two of the current trend toward angst-ridden vampire loving teenagers.  I found myself torn in several places in the novel between cheering for her to go back to her parents (who turn out to be vampires, sorry if that’s a spoiler but it’s not that hard to figure out) or hoping she will run off with Lucas, the mysterious guy who starts off trying to save her from herself and ends up being the only one that can save her at all.

Stargazer is the second book in series, and while it does leave me reminded a bit too much of New Moon when Edward leaves Bella for the majority of the book, I didn’t find Bianca to be quite as maudlin as Bella.  Lucas has a secret that is revealed at the end of Evernight, and has to flee Evernight Academy and leave Bianca behind.  While the bits of the story that focused on her clandestine meetings with Lucas left me a little cold (pun most definitely intended), her relationships that form with other students and teachers at the school in his absence are a lot of fun to watch as they unfold.  I suppose you could carry the Twilight similarity a bit further and say that I am firmly Team Balthazar, but really I’m too old for that sort of thing.  Now where was that Douglas Adams book again?  Is this the Sci Fi section?  Where is George Orwell, because THAT is what I was really after…

Hourglass was the most frustrating of the three books in this series for me, but it was a good kind of frustrating.  Unlike other series where the story is neatly wrapped up in a bow at the end, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with where the story ended up by the last page of the book.  I don’t want to give too much away, but big changes happen for Bianca, Lucas, Balthazar and some of the others, starting with a fire at the school and including some time on the run for Bianca and Lucas with a gang of vampire hunters called Black Cross.  I think the fact that I was so frustrated by the book was a good sign because I came to really care about the characters, so much so even that I was outraged by the ending.  But the good thing is that there is another one in the works called Afterlife, due out in March of next year.  If only I can wait that long.

Fans of other Kissy-Bitey teen fiction will like this series, I think, if they can hang in there past the first bits of Evernight.  As I am finding is the case with a lot of YA/teen fiction, the beginning of the book is slow going but I promise you won’t regret it.


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