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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Bite Club by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires, #10) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

There's a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet:

bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another -- or, worse, against humans.

And if they want to survive, they'll have to do a lot more than fight...

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 442
Chapters: 16 (Plus an introduction.)
Publisher: Allison and Busby

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Bite Club, book ten in Rachel Caine's The Morganville Vampires series, is a mix of old and new. There's her standard, riveting story; old characters that pop up to wreak havok; and the good ol' humorous writing style. Fans and ardent readers of the series will love this solid entry. But, Caine sprinkles some risky new magic, and it pays off, freshening up the long series.

That magic comes in the form of multiple character viewpoints (two, to be exact). For the past nine instalments we've followed Claire Danvers, our college-attending hero, as she battles friend and foe to ensure safety and security for one and all. But with Bite Club, the author experiments with branching out to another member of the cast, and gives them a small amount of time to shine.

We also see a huge amount of character development, strong and steady progressions that are a welcome push forward after a long, thrilling stroll.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Claire Danvers doesn't understand, after everything that's happened, how she can fall into a state of presumed security.
It's foolish, bonkers, and something always awaits around the corner to prove her wrong.
Like, well, now.
Morganville, and the human and vampire residents, is in danger yet again.
Someone has set up a fight club, one that pits vampires against vampires, humans against humans, and most shockingly, the undead against the living.
And to top it off, it's all being broadcast to the outside world thanks to the Internet.
A fact that could expose the vampires, and bring utter chaos to the town...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

The story might be the weakest link in Bite Club. It's not bad, not at all, but while there are cool, new threads to devour, there are also retreads. To begin with, what's going on isn't instantly apparent, at least for the first 100 or so pages. There's a lot of building as our characters make their way to a new danger. Then, Bishop returns.

If you need a memory jog, Bishop is Amelie's (who is the head vamp, the Founder and creator of Morganville) father who, back in Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule and Carpe Corpus, makes a huge play for Morganville's throne. There was war, death, great action and intrigue, and just as it was reaching a monotonous stage, Bishop is dealt with. 

Or so we thought.

I'm beyond surprised that this villain is still alive. Despite his status as Amelie's father, and of course our vampire leader is devout in her nurturing of vampire life, the threat Bishop poses to her and what's taken her decades to build is at a point where not killing him doesn't make sense. That, and, I'm not sure the story would benefit from another bout of Bishop. Been there, it was epic, now it should be done with.

Thankfully, there's a conclusive, conclusive conclusion this time (which really means Bishop gets disintegrated, oh, hell, yes!). 

On the positive side of things, Caine's 'Fight Club' is fun and fierce. It's a fantastic catalyst for some of the character development we get. Aside from my misgivings and trepidation, the author does a phenomenal job of securing severity. With the previous entry, Ghost Town, reiterating and reinforcing the deadly nature of the vampires, Bite Club works with that to place some well-built doubt over Morganville's future, including every person who lives there.

There's action galore, some very, very neat scenes, and the whole package goes a long way to satisfying any vampire fix you might have.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

The first half of the novel suffers slightly from its lack of any clear path, but once everything picks up, and the plot comes into a sharper focus, it's sheer, adrenaline-fuelled bliss. The cast is probably the best it's ever been, with a gallimaufry selection of individuals and some well-plotted character development. 

Characters - 5/5 Stars

The strongest component of this book is its multitude and variety of people. The fact that Caine gets their progressions perfect in this entry is just the icing on the cake. 

We still, predominantly, follow our longtime lead, Claire. We've watched her grow from weak, but resilient newbie, to kick-ass, astounding survivor. The author has done tremendous work with her main character, with each entry building Claire up, and up, and up. Now, in Bite Club, a spotlight is shown on her familiarity with the vampire community. As she's become more and more unafraid and competent, she's actually left herself open to the biggest problem ever: Complacency.

When I say complacency, I mean that Claire has come to form a deep and subtle bond with the undead. She's peeked into many of their hard shells and caught a glimpse of the hope they keep hidden. Believe it or not, vampires just want to live their lives, too. She understands the icy danger they pose, but her continued close connection is taking its toll on her and her friends and family.

Another surprise is Caine's use of Shane as a POV. Whereas we normally follow Claire in a third-person narrative, the author switches and freshens it up with a few interludes of first-person Shane. The in-depth look we get of him as he faces his most testing challenges to date is hooking. We know he's tough, capable and kind, but Bite Club lets his festering anger against loss boil over, and as loss isn't something he can fight, he hones in on those that have caused him the most: Vampires.

Watching him come undone and crazy is kind of heartbreaking to watch, even if it's completely justified. It's a dark time that will forever stain his soul. It strains his relationship with Claire; brutalises his brotherly love for Michael; and devastates Eve. The feel of a family falling apart is as strong as it's ever been.

But, of course, things even out. In fact, the two romantic relationships (Shane and Claire's; Michael and Eve's) mature in this entry. So far they've been slouching along, kind of cheesy and lovey-dovey (but in a guilty-pleasure way). This time round, they gain experience, for lack of a better word; they toughen and solidify and feel more whole.

Oh, and did I mention Michael and Eve are engaged?

HOLY CRAP!

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Caine follows her usual structure and style. The comedic elements balance out the darker tones, complimenting each other in great ways. From the plot (mostly), the pace and the characters, everything ties up tight.

But her introduction of varying viewpoints and narratives really brightens everything. I would have no doubt continued on just as happily as I had been, but this little nugget of light is a nice and welcome surprise.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

Ten books down, five more to go!


Previous Instalment: Ghost Town
Next Instalment: Last Breath


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