Title: Bite Club Author: Rachel Caine Publisher: Penguin/NAL Hardcover Release Date: May 3rd, 2011 Pages: 337 pages (hardback) How I Got the Book: Bought it.
After learning that vampires populate Morganville--and surviving a number of adventures with her new night-dwelling friends--college student Claire Danvers has come to realize that for the most part, the undead just want to live their lives.
But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.
There's a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another--or worse, against humans. Tracking the out-of-town signal leads Claire--accompanied by a loyal group of friends and frenemies--to discover that what began as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville.
And if they want to survive, they'll have to do a lot more than fight...
A new gym has opened up in Morganville and Shane, to say the least, is excited that there's now a place where he can learn to kick vampire butt. He soon starts acting strangely and despite Claire's attempts to find out what's wrong, Shane isn't talking. Through her own invesigation brought on by the death of a classmate and the long trail that leads her down, Claire discovers that one of Morganville's greatest threats is still alive--and he's escaped his prison. She then discovers a website that broadcasts fight between vampires and humans in Morganville, something that could expose vampires and Morganville's secret to the world. Amelie wants whoever is involved dead, which is a bad thing when Shane is a regular feature of the videos.
This series is one of my current favorites because of how... unputdownable the books are and Myrnin, most of all. I read this book from the moment I got home until about 7:45 and coming out of it, I'm not really impressed. It wasn't awful, but there were definite problems and it's got me worried.
From the beginning, I felt that something was wrong. The narrative voice felt... off, somehow. Little comments that were strange even for Morganville narration, which gets pretty different for third-person narration. That was soon fixed, but then came little discrepancies. Does anyone ever remember hearing a mention in the last nine books of how Eve used to fence competitively? I don't, but she apparently did. Ten books in, we're told about the glamour, which some female vampires have and can use to influence humans and vampires. This felt a bit like an asspull done to justify the plot. There is no doubt that the plot was only possible because of the newly introduced glamour power. Otherwise, it never would have worked.
I don't think the shifts into Shane's first-person point of view from the usual third-person limited narration worked very well. Most of his narrative segments added nothing to the book and even the ones that did could have been done without. Frankly, they felt like fluff in a series that didn't need it. The last series that pulled that trick is one I went from loving to loathing. It feels like this book needed more editing, some tweaking of story and grammar and such in a few places and cleanup of the sometimes clunky prose and many misplaced commas. Nothing knocks you out of a suspenseful, tense scene like "Harry closed his eyes and sweated, a lot (p. 283)."
Most of all, Claire and Shane acted pretty out-of-character (though much of Shane's behavior is excused by glamour/for the sake of plot). Claire had a bit of information to tell her roommates about her MIT invite and yet she never tells Shane in all the opportunities she had before his mood swings kicked in. So this girl, who could stay up for three days straight (wasn't that it?) when forced to, can't force herself to stay awake a few minutes to finish a conversation and tell her boyfriend about an invitation to MIT? She forgives Shane for all he does in this book far too easily. As he admitted, he came under such control of the glamour because there was something there to work with. She doesn't seem to realize that. Also, Shane learns about his father's fate. His reaction? Not talk to people for a week and then be fine. Something felt off about that reaction.
Despite the rocky road at the beginning that I just ranted about, Bite Club got into the Morganville groove by the half point of the book and became impossible to put down. If anything, this series is a master of suspense, how everything gets tense and the narration will quit fooling around and start flowing smoothly. You always know the main four will live and that Amelie, Oliver, and Myrnin will too, but everyone else is fair game. Despite this surety, there's always the desperate need to keep turning those pages and find out how it's all going to work out. Each time I got a new Morganville book, I finished reading it the day I got it because the book wouldn't let me go. Bite Club was no exception. Only one or two other series are like that for me, and I've read many series!
If you are a fellow Myrnin fan like me, rejoice because he is here and just as much fun as usual! Among other things, he nearly causes many traffic accidents and we find out that his picture ID on Claire's phone is a close-up photo of those famous vampire bunny slippers. When I got irritated, I flipped back to his entertaining moments and it made me feel better again. Bonus if you're a Myrnin/Claire fan: everyone and their mother thinks, 'There's something there...' I'm not a fan of it and even I could see it. Most of what makes me love Morganville is its supporting characters and they are out in spades here to entertain the reader.
This is definitely my least favorite book yet in the series and it makes me worry for the future of the series. I can see where holes are forming in the foundation, threatening to make the entire structure fall apart and become a bad series. However, the two events did not happen at once like multiple series I don't wish to name. With more careful writing, Morganville can be saved. Most Morganville fans will love or at least like Bite Club and anxiously await Last Breath for their next dose of Myrnin (oh, and some other characters, in case they don't like Myrnin).