Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Hump Day!

Happy, happy hump day one and all. I have to admit this fall has been something of a dud for me but coming up on the Thanksgiving season always puts me in mind of things I am thankful for: family, friends and, um, well....books of course! (I'd throw in wine and chocolate but those are a complete given, aren't they?!?!) Oh, and how could I forget? I am, of course, also very thankful that there are deep and lovely gene pools out there to produce such fabulous eye candy confections for our viewing consumption!!!! Yummmmmmy!

In many ways, I feel like this week's topic of YA favs is a refreshing palate cleanser. I especially have a soft spot for YA literature - both classic and current hits. I got reconnected with YA lit several years ago when "pre-screening" the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series for my daughter. Quickly following were the Cassandra Clare Mortal Instruments series which my kids and I listened to on Audiobook - amazing, action-packed, angsty drama to suck us in and fill the endless voids during summer vacation travels! My kids enjoyed the stories certainly, but for me these series hurtled me back to that time in my life when romance and friendship dilemas were new and all consuming. I find that many well written YA series have all the clean, intense story lines of their adult counterparts but the authors are compelled to generate deeper characterizations, witty and engaging dialogue and breath stealing, soul deep connections between heroes and heroines because they do not have sex to act as a binding ingredient. While you couldn't pay me to be 16 again, there is something tantalizing in the yearning for that "something more" that these kids experience and I'll be damned if I don't want that in my life again!

So that being said, my pick for today's YA series topic embodies all the angsty goodness I so adore and builds upon a really inventive twist on the vampire mythos that has become so very popular this decade! Rachel Caine is the popular adult urban fantasy author of the Weather Warden series (djinn rock!) as well as the Morganville Vampires (which defintely hold a high place on my favs list and are always a must buy). The newest release, Ghost Town, is the ninth in this series which continues to follow the life of Clare Danvers and her crazy Glass House compadres as they battle the bad vamps and learn to navigate the good vamps of Morganville, Texas.

The series begins with Glass House, a fitting introduction to Clare Danvers. Clare is a 16 year old genius who graduates high school early but whose parents aren't ready to let their little girl go off to M.I.T. to study the engineering she so desires. The compromise of local Texas Prairie University seems like a good interim solution but nearly becomes Clare's undoing. Harrassed and victimized by the vicous popular girls of her dorm, lead by Monica the daughter of the local mayor, Clare nearly dies in her escape efforts. She flees the "safety" of the college campus and finds sanctuary in an off campus house with new allies: Goth girl Eve, rebel-with-a-cause Shane and mysterious rocker hunk Michael Glass. Through them she learns the truth about Morganville - it is home to dozens of vampires who essentially run the town. Oh, and once you know this, you can never, ever leave. Oh and Michael has a big secret that gets even bigger and only Clare knows at first. Oh, and the vampires have a huge secret that only Clare knows as well....high drama, indeed! Are you feeling me?

Throughout the series, Clare manages to maneuver through the drama and intrigue of the vampire society - aiding brilliant but mentally damaged founders, manipulating secret dimension shifting passageways throughout the town, saving her friends continuously only to fight another day. Clare uses her brains, remains true to herself and her ideals, refuses to betray those she loves - a true role model for young women. In a place where alliances are daily made and broken, humans remain pawns on the game board of vampire politics in this bizarre vampire utopia. Like little rewards for suffering with the Glass House gang, readers are treated with the blossoming romances between Eve and Michael, Clare and Shane. Caine refuses to allow the romances between these young adults on the verge of extinction to burn out quickly, letting the embers smolder delivering a message of hope and love in the chaos. As much as I want more, somehow it feels right and when immersed in the thick of each novel, it is enough for me!

These reads are fast-paced, juicy little bon-bons. Appropriate for mature middle school and up - nothing like sharing a treat with your friends and your daughters! I give Morganville Vampires a tasty 5 Chocolate Dipped Strawberries - yummmm! They'll keep you coming back for seconds....and thirds.....and......
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