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Monday, 14 December 2015

Daylighters by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires, #15) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Something drastic has happened in Morganville while Claire Danvers and her friends were away...

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 494
Chapters: 14 (Plus an introduction and epilogue. For UK readers, there is also a short story at the end.)
Publisher: Allison & Busby

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

It's been one hell of a ride, with obstacles to overcome, and tales that do nothing short of tantalise.

Yep, Daylighters, entry fifteen in The Morganville Vampires series, is the end...

And author Rachel Caine doesn't disappoint stout fans. We're treated to an action-packed story that's filled to the brim with everything we love: The supernatural, the scientific, the tumultuous and tenuous threads that link the living to the dead; we are given it all. As we journey this final time, the themes of family and love are stronger than ever.

Daylighters, despite its dark edge, is sweet and utterly satisfying as it ties up the plots and characters we all adore.

SPOILER WARNING

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

After surviving their battle with The Daylight Foundation, Claire and co. return home to Morganville.
And find that their enemies have taken over in their absence.
Vampires have been taken and imprisoned.
Humans now flock to the streets, for once unafraid and confident.
But Claire can see past the bright and deceptive face of the organisation, straight into its dark centre.
And if she can't find a way to stop their devastating plans, well, by now you know the score.
Doom, gloom and all the consequences to match...

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

Picking up directly after the cliffhanger in Fall of Night, Daylighters signals a complete overhaul in the hierarchy of Morganville. Caine ensures that the irony is not lost as the once all-powerful undead are stripped of their rank and power and turned into the captured. After treating the humans like cattle for decades, the favour is being returned.

Despite the reader and the main cast having some form of warmth and familiarity with the vampires of the series, you can't help but feel slightly proud. The vampires' fall from grace is not only justified, but a lesson the living dead need to learn.

But the architects of this change, The Daylight Foundation (or Daylighters), aren't the glowing ray of light they insist they are. Especially led by a human who was once a vampire...

Yep, folks, you read that right.

Up until now we've never really discussed a possible reversal to the undead condition, and while not entirely original (Daylighters does tend to make you think you've read this story somewhere before), Caine injects enough action, mystery and twists to her impeccable execution. Plus, the conspiracy feel from Fall of Night is joyously carried over. Things, as always, are not what they seem.

There are a few dips in continuity, with some of the series' rules being stretched to fit the plot, or some things that are just given to you without much of an in-depth explanation (Shane's dog bite that turns him into a werewolf? The cure itself?). There are a few handy coincidences, so suspend your disbelief.

And the incredibly sweet and wholesome ending gives way to Caine's powerful overall message: There is no such thing as good or bad, just varying levels of good and bad.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

We're given another lengthy instalment (almost 500 pages), and while I could see some of that being shaved off, it was expected for the finale. Daylighters is grand and exciting, and if you've made it this far through the series, then I can tell you this entry has everything you love. The fast pace is also heightened thanks to just how full the plot is. Caine throws everything at it, and even when it doesn't all click together, it's a breathless race to the finish line.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Daylighters delivers us an ensemble cast, all of which earn themselves a gold star for presence and personality, but let's look at our four mains:

Claire Danvers: Heroic Claire is a fitting protagonist, and has been from the start. Independent, stubborn, intelligent and completely capable even when the odds are not in her favour. She's outraged at the imprisonment of the vampires, not because they really deserve her sympathy or indignation, but because it's a testament to her being. Claire is of the mentality that each individual should be judged as such, by their individual actions and outlooks. She fights for the good and respect, with no thought for karma or revenge.

Shane Collins: Shane's role within this entry boils down to his new, and soon rectified, werewolf status (they call him a werewolf, hellhound etc., although I get the feeling these are more descriptive than definitive). He's still as badass as ever, ready for a fight and likely to win. He and Claire follow through on their promise to one another and get married at the end of the book! It tops off the series with heartwarming hope for the future.

Eve Glass: Eve is fearless, as usual. The source of a lot of comic relief, she is no joker. Vastly loyal and prepared to kick down the door of anyone who threatens her or her family. She's a hard character not to love, and her pairing with Michael (similarly to Shane's pairing with Claire) is a highlight of the series for its warm and often chaos-inducing intensity.

Michael Glass: Michael's internal battle with his vampire side comes to an end. I'm fifty/fifty, because it just seems too perfect. The cure created by The Daylight Foundation is volatile and has around a 75% fail rate, but, of course, Michael, kidnapped and subjected to it, survives and is granted his wish to be human. It's sweet, like a lot of this novel, but it undermines Caine's biggest point throughout. If you want the reader to understand that vampires are not so different from humans, both shades of grey, then why change one of the strongest proponents of that?

But, overall, everything ends on a note of happiness. There's still that edge of darkness, but Caine gives our imaginations an excuse to make our own stories up should we want to, while still giving us a concrete finale.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

Ditching the various viewpoints, Caine opts to focus once again solely on Claire, and I love this. While the different narratives give previous stories a solid freshness, returning to the series' roots is fitting. We start this journey with Claire, it's perfect that we end it with her too.

There are a few instances of mistaken identity, which can be viewed as quite comical. Sometimes, when our characters are discussing another member of the cast who isn't present, the names change. For instance, Claire will be discussing the leader of the villains, and then the leader's name will be used by accident in the place of Claire's. It's not too prominent, and for some reason I find it kind of charming (I know, I'm bonkers, but it makes me laugh).

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

I guess it's on to the next vampire series...

And it has large shoes to fill.


Previous Instalment: Fall of Night
For more Morganville, check out Caine's short story compilation: Midnight Bites


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