Sunday, July 24, 2011

Evernight – review

Author: Claudia Gray

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

Evernight is a young adult book, and one can fairly much say with its female protagonist – Bianca – and the strong romance theme that it is aimed at a female audience. I am male and a bit of an old fart and so it is all in the book’s credit that I can say that I rather enjoyed this – up to a point.

At first, however, I did not. After a prologue that let us know we are dealing with vampires we meet Bianca. Her parents are teachers and they have taken jobs at the private Evernight Academy. Bianca, who has always lived in the same small town, is really not looking forward to being at the school. Not only will It cater for a different social strata of people but its imposing gothic architecture, towers, stained glass and gargoyles…

And this is where the book nearly lost me, for I couldn’t reconcile the academy description (almost Hogwartian, one might say) with the USA… that is until it clicked that what was being described was virtually anime. It was something akin to that which we see in the series Vampire Knight. Whether Grey meant this or not I don’t know but as soon as the realisation dawned I was able to relax and enjoy the book and it was enjoyable, I was drawn in and, for the first half of the book (past the prologue), vampires are not mentioned.

There is a creeping suspicion with regards our toothsome friends at the back of the mind, however and we then get the reveal. Most of the students are vampires… and here’s the clever bit, the main reason they are there (after all, the oldest pupil is some 1300 years old) is to learn about the modern world, to fit in. Evernight was always a place to learn and to be themselves, and human students have been let in (we are told) to help with that grounding in the today. This gives a reason for these ancient creatures to be in a school that actually works.

So what about Bianca (please turn away if this might be a spoiler too far…

…still with me, good).

Bianca is a rarity, a child born of two vampires, and she is approaching the time when her vampire nature will assert itself. To fully become vampire she must kill and then die. Of course, first love (with a human) and raging teenage hormones do not help.

The lore is well handled. So long as they maintain a diet of (at least animal) blood vampires can go out in daylight. They can cross running water but it takes a mighty effort, fire and beheading will kill and as for a stake through the heart... it paralyses them but remove it and they are up and about again.

So, I said I liked it to a point. That point was the ending. As well as it getting a little too Romeo and Juliet for my taste, the very end confrontation seemed rushed and not well explained – especially after the excellent build up through the book to every other aspect of the story. Of course I can’t explain why without spoiling the story altogether.

However, beyond this (and I can live with it, it was just a shame) this was well composed prose that did not treat the target audience like idiots and thus opened it up to a more mature audience.

6 out of 10.

Review first published on Amazon Vine.

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