Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evernight, Claudia Gray

Title: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 10th 2009 from HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 starhalf star

Firstly, I should say, Evernight is probably a little better than I'm giving it credit for. At the time I read this, I had genre fatigue. It's not a bad book, it's simply that, for me, Evernight failed to stand out amongst a slew of similar books currently available in the ever-popular YA teenage vampire/paranormal genre.

From Goodreads:
Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

After Bianca Olivier's parents accept teaching positions, she is forced to attend the creepy and snobbish Evernight Academy--and she wants out. Bianca's a loner. She's debilitatingly shy, and the move to a new town, and a new school where she knows no-one but her parents, is hard for her (and every other 14 year old on the planet). At Evernight she discovers dark secrets, reveals a few of her own, and falls head over heels for fellow student and Evernight outsider, Lucas. This despite the fact that he's a bit of an ass, a text-book wife-beater (as Bianca's new BFF, Raquel, rather astutely points out), and that the charming and 'broad shouldered' Balthazar (a classmate) seems a much more suitable match. But we don't choose who we love, so let's move along, because you'll have to, to get through this book.

About half way through--right as I was getting ready to give up on Bianca's insipid, droning, seemingly endless monologue--Evernight actually has a very sudden, very big, and what I personally thought was a pretty cool (though much maligned, it would seem) plot twist. It's a bit of a point of difference from the many other predictable books out there in a very similar vein (think Hush, Hush, Twilight, Fallen, etc... can I call Twilight a genre of its own?).

I wanted to like Bianca, and I wanted to like Lucas, however, I found myself rooting for Lucas' opposing love interest; a problem I've never had before in what is often a very formulaic genre, and, in Evernight, what is clearly meant to be very straight forward path between our two lovers. I do have to praise the writing of Lucas, here, though. He's not perfect, and he's not made out to be. He's a liar, at times violent, and while our brainless heroine is head-over-heels, regardless of his flaws, I like that we're seeing a genuinely imperfect hero, who's conflicted, who has--while not selfish, or ill-intentioned--misguided, motivations for his actions, and a bit of interest. I don't *like* him, but, hey, at least when he's on the page, Bianca stops talking about how pretty his shiny bronze hair and brilliant green eyes are.

Evernight ends up playing out as a bit of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet... but I didn't feel as connected as I'd like to be. I couldn't make myself care enough to truly be invested. I'm torn--I'm desperately curious to know how the series pans out, and the secret the sinister headmistress, Mrs Bethany, is hiding, but I don't think I could make myself read through another three books worth of Bianca's narration.

While there are better books out there than Evernight, it's truly not a bad outing in the predictable YA/PNR genre, and should provide a satisfying diversion to fans hungering thirsty for another tale of the ubiquitous teenage vampire.

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