Title: The Dead Girls’ Dance
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #2
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Summary (from Amazon)
Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls’ Dance, hell is really going to break loose.
What’s Good About It
Well, it’s a step up from the last. Pacier with a more concrete sense of threat. The lengths to which Shane’s Dad is prepared to go to bring down the Vampires, and his complete lack of regard for himself and seemingly his son make him a real wildcard throughout the novel. You really aren’t sure what he’s going to do next, which makes the plot move much faster and with real tension.
There are some good ideas too – like the neutral cops, exploring a little deeper into the politics of the Vampire world, and how they have survived for so long. But it felt a little like some of these characters, particularly the neutral cops, came out of nowhere to serve a plot purpose. Can’t have another argument about whether or not Claire can leave the house? Well, that’s okay – bring in two guys who for no apparent reason will drive her to school and back every day.
There are some hints as to where this is going next, which is always good for a bit of intrigue. I like the idea that there are worse things out there, because while Morganville is a dangerous place, it does have its rules, and if you play by them you can form some sort of life. That Claire and gang continue to break the rules is their choice and you can only be symapthetic towards trouble they’ve got themselves into so many times.
Character development was better, with Eve, Michael and Shane give a bit more depth, and Claire finally grew a spine, which is also good. It was a constant source of irritation in the last book how she was so drippy, super smart and yet stupid enough to try and take on things she didn’t understand. While intelligence and common sense are not necessarily linked, she lacked the backbone to really make me believe she had it in her to do the daring thing in the last book. Now she seems to be growing a little as a character and it’s much easier to swallow.
Above all, though, it was a fast read, and that is its saving grace really. I couldn’t cope with it if it was much longer than it is. But you don’t mind spending an afternoon reading a book that isn’t the greatest, but has its mildly entertaining moments.
What’s Not So Good
Like many YA Paranormal series, this one picks up directly where the last book left off. While that can be a good thing, and can work very well, sometimes the time between reading one book and picking up the next can leave your brain with the impression that the characters have known each other for longer than they have, because you’ve known them for a longer time.
It was easy to forget that Claire had only known the housemates for a few weeks at most, if that. I accept that intense situations make for intense friendships and loves, but sometimes it seemed a little too much, how much danger she was prepared to put herself in, especially as she doesn’t fully understand Morganville yet.
The titular Dead Girls’ Dance was a bit throwaway too. And the college kids are getting more and more irritating. Yes I know some people are jerks, and you do occasionally get high concentrations of them, but there seem to be an inordinate amount at the university. While I can see why Monica is the way she is, the kids from out of town wouldn’t all be the same way. It seems to me like a lot of the same plot tropes are being used again and again. Claire does something dumb and gets into trouble. Some college kids are mean. Shane makes chilli. Michael is incapable of doing anything because he’s trapped in the house. Claire and Eve are told to stay behind but don’t. Across two books, it’s just about okay, but if there isn’t something new in the next installment, I won’t be bothering tracking down the rest.