Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley is the third in the Morganville Vampires series. In Morganville, Texas, vampires run the town like an evil mafia. Claire is the main character, a precocious teen starting college at the university in Morganville. She moves in with Eve, a goth barrista, Michael, who at the beginning of Midnight Alley has just become a vampire, and Shane, a hothead who begins dating Claire. These four have all kinds of problems and adventures around Morganville, trying to avoid the wrath of the vampires and their human cronies.
At the end of the previous book, The Dead Girls’ Dance, Claire signed a contract for protection with Amelie, the town’s vampire foundress. Amelie basically owns her now. Michael has just been turned, and they’re all dealing with that, especially Shane, who hates vampires. Amelie has Claire change her classes and study with an ancient, dangerously unstable vampire who’s trying to cure the mysterious ailment that’s striking the vampires down. The mean girl who antagonized Claire for the entire first two books is being mysteriously nice all the sudden. There’s a party coming up, which you know will be the climax.Now to the inevitable Twilight comparison. Caine is definitely trying to ride the sparkling wave of Meyer’s popular series. Morganville’s vampires are scarier than Twilight‘s by far. Their supernatural power is menacing and their political power in the town is almost as chilling. In some ways the series has more in common with teen horror like Christopher Pike, or R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books. Claire is a stronger character than Bella Swan. Claire’s defining character trait is her precocious intelligence, not her clumsiness or her self-effacing modesty. She has ambitions in life beyond romance. However, unlike Twilight, Morganville doesn’t have what I’ve previously (so articulately) described as “something viscerally compelling and appealing.” Maybe that’s a good thing–I’m not sure that the thing that appeals in Twilight is aimed at our highest nature.
This series is not high literature. It’s a quick, beachy read: plot-heavy, action-packed, and full of cliffhangers. It’s enjoyable and unobjectionable. The greatest strength of the prose is its funny moments, some zingers and wisecracks and laughable images. I include books like this on the blog because I honestly read them and enjoy them for what they’re worth. What kind of a snobby pretender would I be if I didn’t admit to reading books like these, or tried to say I was too good to blog them?