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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires, #9) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

People inside the town are slowly beginning to forget who they are...

Now Claire needs to figure out a way to pull the plug on her experiment

-- before she forgets how to save Morganville...

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 479
Chapters: 16 (Plus an introduction.)
Publisher: Allison & Busby

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

I haven't read a good amnesia (well, amnesia-like) plot in a while, if ever. So Ghost Town presents a stellar story of a town growing in amnesiacs. If that mystery isn't enough, did I mention that Morganville is run by vampires? Vampires who don't take kindly to confusion and fear, emotions they're all too familiar with when their memories vanish and they're stuck in a world they don't recognise...

So yeah, mix some luscious action in with that mystery, with a supernatural backdrop, and right away you have another compelling tale from The Morganville Vampires series.

But, as with a lot of fiction, suspend your disbelief; it's so much more fun that way.

SPOILER WARNING

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

With Ada, the vampire/ghost/machine that ran the town's almost mystical security, destroyed, Morganville hangs on a knife's edge.
Amelie, Morganville's vampire leader, has made major concessions to the human population, but, in the end, she'll never let them leave.
Without the defences down, however, that might be hard to enforce.
To avoid bloodshed and mayhem, Claire is appointed to come up with a new system.
Or Amelie will have no choice but to destroy every human life to keep the vampires' secret...

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

This'll probably be the hundredth time I've said it, but, The Morganville Vampires series is just too much darn fun, and just too darn easy to slip back into. Rachel Caine never ceases to excite with her vivacious and isolated stories. While the books have (mostly) great continuity, each one is practically readable on its own, with a unique journey awaiting those with the time to take it.

The balance of action, humour and science/magic is stupendously good.

With Ghost Town Caine takes the time to reinforce the true threat vampires pose. Over the course of the novels, their intimidation has slowly dwindled. It's not too apparent, but it is needed, with the author using the softer feel to explore the squishy emotional enigmas that vampires house under their icy, hard shells. The cruel and cutthroat way they can behave realigns not only the characters' perspectives, but the readers' as well. The danger and immediacy feels fresh.

The priority, story-wise, in this entry is Morganville's security protocols (the scientific/magical portals throughout town, the barrier on the outskirts that alerts the vampires to anyone leaving, and the memory systems, that wipe vampires from a human's brain if they do leave Morganville). A new system has to be established with the absence of Ada, who went psycho and tried to kill everyone back in Fade Out.

Myrnin, our illustrious mad scientist, really, really, really wants to use Claire's brain, as in, scoop it out her skull and attach it to machinery (because an organic operating system is far more effective than a strictly mechanical one). Yep, creepy.

Thankfully, they postpone that idea and eventually surmount the impossible task, restoring defence to Morganville. Only, people inside the town start to forget around three years of their life. The tension and intrigue as everyone, one by one, starts to lose themselves is freaky good. The isolation our hero, Claire, feels as those closest to her start to forget she ever came to town is heartbreaking. It makes the countdown on the metaphorical clock that much louder.

While I love the mythology and rules to the series' world, I will admit it doesn't always make sense. Only sometimes is that jarring, because if you let go of your grip on reality, it's tons of fun.

Plus an interesting twist at the end to round off an entertaining and exciting adventure never goes amiss.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Ghost Town is slightly longer than its predecessors. In fact, I think all the entries here on out are. I'm not sure why, the length before is perfect. It's not too long, but those extra pages are difficult to understand the need for.

Otherwise, Caine's creation runs smoothly. The series is a guilty, addictive, young adult pleasure.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

You guys know I love this cast. They're just so damn feisty and kickass. Not to mention likable, all round; even the bad dudes and dudettes have the ability to disarm you. Caine imbues them with spirit, and coupled with the amazing plots, they're awesome.

Claire, the beloved hero: Smart, tough and ready to go when everyone else has already given up. Eve, resident goth with a personality like sunshine and a temper like a roaring fire. There's Shane, bad-boy boyfriend to Claire with a heart that's through and through gold. Michael, Eve's lover (yep, our four leads are all paired with one another, but it works in a way that shows it wouldn't any other way), creature of the night and moral compass.

Oh, and Amelie and Oliver! The two strongest vamps in town, and the power struggle we see in Ghost Town, a proper fight for the top, is not only rapturous, but long overdue. The truce at the end and the flickers of deep fondness (love?) for one another is as confusing as it is apt. Perhaps the most character development comes from these two.

Well, with one exception, everyone's favourite crazy genius Myrnin, who goes through a lot of changes. 

Our main posse don't really shift or progress anywhere, but that's absolutely fine, they're perfect where they are.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

While not prominent, there are a few instances throughout where a scene will have a character doing something, only for a different character's name to replace them. Near the start, Monica's cronies, Jennifer and Gina, are used interchangeably. One second it's the former stealing a chair, only to be replaced halfway through the act with Gina's name. 

Apart from that, Caine is a pro. Sharp and intelligent, but concise and to the point (except in some lovey-dovey scenes, I heart me some romance in the midst of fantastical stories, but not too much).

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

I recently seen a YouTube adaption for the series (just the first book, I think), and I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed. Amber Benson (my Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer!) is sensational and absolutely perfect in the role of Ice Queen Amelie, but a lot of it fell short.

But, it's still a series I hope gets a traditional TV makeover, because there is so much potential for it to be huge, especially if they keep Caine's engaging humour and plots.


Previous Instalment: Kiss of Death
Next Instalment: Bite Club


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