(The Morganville Vampires, Book One)
College should be an exciting time, but for brainy 16-year-old Claire Danvers that's too mild a word. Due to advanced placement, Claire can start college early, but her parents refuse to allow her to go to the distant Ivy League school of her dreams. She goes to Texas Prairie University where she is tormented by the popular girls—but that's the least of her worries. Morganville, home of the university, is also home to vampires and vampire hunters. Claire finds protection from the horrors of the town in the Glass House with three fellow outcasts, Goth girl Eve, rebellious Shane, and Michael, who disappears during the day. Claire falls for Shane and would do anything to protect her friends, including facing down bloodthirsty vampires and dangerous bikers. (from bn.com)
Glass Houses was one of those books that, for the first third of it, I didn't think I was going to like it. I was lining up flaws and issues that I could foresee coming in the story and character plot lines. However, I ended up surprised by how everything eventually just started clicking together and how it all worked.
The cliff's note of the version of the story is sixteen year old Claire is attending university in the small, Texas town of Morganville. She's a genius with dreams of Ivy league but her parents wanted her to stay close to home. However, their plan to protect their daughter doesn't really work out all that well because the popular girls have taken to harassing her. This ends up escalating to a point where they push her down the stairs in their dorm and threaten her life. Fearing for safety, Claire seeks out other living arrangements which is ultimately how she ends up being roommates with 18 and 19 year old's Eve, Shane and Michael in the glass house. Eve's a goth girl who works at Common Grounds, the local coffee joint. Shane's a slacker with a pretty face. And Michael? He's a musician that never leaves the house and sleeps all day. The three hometown teens introduced Claire to the real side of Morganville, where not only are vampires real but they rule the town. And Claire finds herself on the vampires' bad side very quickly and it's going to take the four of them to get her out of this alive.
I kinda sorta really love this book because, with the flooding of the YA genre with vampire books that take huge liberties with the mythology, the Morganville vamps are extremely traditional. They need to drink blood to stay alive, they can't come out in the daylight, you need to invite them in for them to gain access to your house, garlic is a big no-no, etc. You don't understand how utterly happy this made me.
Also Cain does a great job explaining how it is the vampires can exist, known to the general public in the town, without making it feel forced. There is a logic behind it, how it's just part of life there.
Like I said earlier, I was unsure of this book at the start. One of my biggest issues going into it was the discovery that Claire was sixteen, despite being in college (not something I was aware of, due to the college element I was expecting the female lead to be of age). I figured this would either highly limit the character or force it to become extremely unrealistic. With the rest of the cast 18 or 19 year olds I figured we wouldn't get a real romantic interest for her along with the nagging realization that her parents are nowhere to be seen.
And I actually ended up loving the fact that Claire was younger. In a lot of ways it shows in her character, she may be a genius when it comes to school stuff but she is a bit naive in the workings of the world. It also explains, to an extent, why the other three are so protective of her opposed to her simply being a victim (and their is some lovely character growth on Claire's part throughout the book). Not to mention, upon moving into the glass house Michael brings up the fact that having a minor living with them could get him and Shane into a lot of trouble. And when her parents show up, they act like parents. It's refreshing the age thing wasn't just forgotten within a few pages and it was reflective in the storyline.
And ultimately, yes, it does add a nice element to the relationship between Shane and her. Which, by the way, I absolutely adore. It was played out absolutely lovely. There is a lot of subtly to the interaction between the two and the foundation has been built before you even realize it's happening.
Warning: the book does end with a cliffhanger so make sure you have the second on hand. But this is so worth the read. The only reason this baby didn't earn five stars is because the first third of the book did start off rather slow, in my opinion. Here's hoping the second book can keep this up.