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catherinehaines

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Evernight  - Claudia Gray Vampire fiction is not a trend; it's a long-standing subgenre currently experiencing a major upswing (even if, perhaps, some are getting a little sick of their dominance, resulting in what appears to be the start of the upswing going down). Published in 2008, Evernight by Claudia Gray is a promising start to a series that looks like it will be a strong addition to the subgenre.

Right from the beginning I was struck by the narration of the main character, Bianca. Gray quickly and efficiently captures her voice - that of a thoughtful teenager - and uses it to great effect. One minor quibble is that Bianca is perhaps not as shy as she thinks she is, but the discrepancy is nowhere near as great as with other novels I have read, which have had the so-called shy character slapping people she barely knows and getting all up in their faces. No, Bianca just appears to have overshot the mark when it comes to her own self-image regarding shyness (which would fit other self-image attitudes she had), and we do witness some growth in her character, where she becomes more confident and less shy as the story goes on.

In Evernight, Gray her world's 'solution' to a problem that one would expect to be discussed, or at least mentioned in passing. While others either handwave the problem away, or simply ignore the under-riding implication of unchanging people in an ever-changing world - especially those changed while they were still teens and now live in a world where they are too young to do many things - in Evernight the problem provides both a major premise as well as the major setting of the story. It's a far more logical an idea to bring vampires and humans in a school together (something that is further explored in Stargazer), and I only wish that these classes and problems had been further explored on-screen than they were. But still, the scenes we do see provide some of the best humorous moments in Evernight, such as the centuries old vampire insisting that there were spirits in an iPod, and that was how it worked.

There was just one thing that kept me from giving Evernight a higher rating, and due to its nature I will keep the important details behind a spoiler tag - hover over the coloured spaces to see the text it is hiding.

In the first part of the novel, we are under the impression that Bianca has no idea that she is really a vampire and that Evernight is a school for vampires. While we, the reader, can obviously guess that, especially with the genre and other things cluing us into the truth, Bianca's narration in the first part makes it pretty clear that she doesn't know at all - that the students are beautiful and strange and the like, but nothing beyond that. So when the big secret is finally, officially revealed, what do we also learn? That Bianca knew all along what she was, and was going to be. It just does not fit with the character and the narration, especially as she is very free on mentioning all the little vampire things her parents always told her growing up, so it's very clear that the knowledge was being kept from us alone, and not the character. I guess it was an attempt to surprise the reader, but instead it only served to be a massive "Wait, WTF?" moment. It threw me right out the story, and that is never a good thing.

In a weaker novel, that problem might have been a proper deal-breaker for me, but fortunately Gray has created a nice world populated with an interesting cast of characters, and when combined with an interesting plotline and very enjoyable writing makes Evernight a good read and a nice addition to any collection of YA vampire fiction.

Three and a half stars.