Houglass by Claudia Gray

“Neither Here nor There, Neither Alive nor Dead.”

Synopsis From Book Jacket:

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend — the vampire Balthazar — hiding is no longer an option.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can’t escape her destiny.

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything… but can it survive what’s to come?

Personal Thoughts:

When I started a book I owe myself to finish it and that rules also applies in reading a series. That’s basically the reason why I am on the third book of Claudia Gray’s Evernight series.

The setting is more on the city where we see Black Cross hunters move from one to another for hideouts. We now learned more about the Black Cross organization. A few history, how they function as vampire hunters, their rules, routines and operations. It’s more clear that they are absolute on their views that all vampire are evil and they are willing to kill all vampires to protect the humanity.

The characters are finally now sinking to me. Bianca and Lucas are growing up and maturing. There are still stupid and compulsive decisions on Bianca’s part but at least somehow she shows improvement. And there are still room for her to grow up. On the other side, Lucas grows up faster than Bianca in this book. He did a great job ensuring Bianca’s safety. Compare to his actions in Stargazer he improves a lot. Vic and Ranulf are back too, which is one of the best thing in this book. They simply add touch of humour which lifts the occasionally gloomy plotline. Maybe if they got more part of the book, Hourglass is more entertaining.

As for the plot twist, it surprised me – the part of what happened to Bianca in the end. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, I just didn’t want it that way. I think Gray could actually make something better than that. When I’m reading that part my first reaction was in denial. I even said to myself that maybe it’s just part of Bianca’s dream, but I knew better, the fonts are clearly saying me it’s all real. And I feel sorry for Bianca and Lucas for that turn of event. It’s just so lame to have it that way. As for Lucas being a vampire, that’s quite expected already too bad that it just didn’t complement much to Bianca’s ending. Unless the next book, Afterlife can make something out of it than pure melodramatic plot.

To wrap all this up, Hourglass is fast-paced and well written but nothing really went on outside of the relationship of Bianca and Lucas. Nothing much new is added that we haven’t already know or anticipated. Ms. Bethany’s motive is still unknown. Charity is still the mysterious cardboard villain. Black Cross is still unsettled. As a third book, it doesn’t add so much information to the series which lives everything to the final book, Afterlife.

Stargazer by Claudia Gray

“We have to remember that life is to be lived one day at a time. You cannot worry about past or future. Happiness is in the now.”

Synopsis from book jacket:

The vampire in me was closer to the surface…

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca’s secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn’t the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning…

Personal Thoughts:

I found this book better than the first book, Evernight. It is much more action driven and more engaging. The writing is as good as the first book, it’s still quick pace and flowing. The paranormal element is much better. There is another supernatural element added into the plot, the wraiths. The mythology of wraiths and vampires, and why they’re natural enemies is unique. It gives more details to Bianca’s heritage and the story of her birth. The plot is continues but there weren’t any truly big shockers or twist. Everything happens so fast that you don’t have the time to really anticipate what next.

The characters are still flat and underdeveloped. But honestly I don’t care much about it anymore. It’s like that it already grows in my system. Too bad I don’t care much about them. If there’s one character I like to explore that would be the new character introduced in this book, Charity (Baltazar’s younger sister). She adds a lot of drama to the story. Given her villain persona, I think there are so much to discover about her. Somehow I felt that she’s a misunderstood person/vampire with a deep history left behind. A history worth digging and telling.

Other than the characters, there are also other concept that is underdeveloped. Like the Black Cross. There existence and the purpose they serve is already told in the first book, but we haven’t see any details of them. They are simply vampires hunters, it’s not clear how they functions or if there are any rules they actually follow. There are also some inconsistency like in the first book. Bianca professes to be shy in Evernight, but she never really acts shy and all pretense of being so is dropped by into this book.

Overall, Stargazer is a is a nice addition to Evernight Series and a huge improvement over Evernight (book 1). But it doesn’t make me eager to read the next book, Hourglass even if I already have a copy of it.

Evernight by Claudia Gray

“If you loved someone, you couldn’t let lies come between you. No matter what happened—even if you’d already lost each other forever—you owed each other the truth.”

Synopsis from Book Jacket:

Bianca wants to escape.

She’s a new student at Evernight Academy, a creepily gothic boarding school where her classmates are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn’t fit in.

Then she meets Lucas another loner, who seems fiercely determined not to be the “Evernight type.” There’s a connection between Bianca and Lucas that can’t be denied. She will risk anything to be with him, but dark, ancient secrets are fated to tear them apart… and to make Bianca question everything she’s ever believed to be true.

Personal Thoughts:

I’ll just make this a quick review.

Evernight basically is a story of star-crossed lovers in the dark world of vampire and human set in middle school academy. Is that something new? No not really. At first it looks promising, imagine Romeo and Juliet in Twilight world with Hogwarts school in it. Great combinations right? But given that formula Evernight wasn’t successful giving a well crafted story.

The setting is another gothic school that doesn’t quite appeal more gothic other than the presents of gargoyles. The characters were kind of flat and inconsistent especially Bianca (explanation below). The chemistry between Bianca and Lucas was quite unbelievable. Their romance, while beautifully written, just happened way too fast without much interaction between the two. They’ve only met a handful of times, there’s no real foundation to the relationship and their deepening feelings, which makes the whole romance feel somewhat fake and forced. And the ending is slightly less climatic.

My main problem with this book actually is the plot twist or let me say the narration of it. Given the fact that this book is about vampires and human it is quite expected that one the main characters is a vampire and the other is not or at least not yet. So the main question is – Which of the main character is the vampire? The answer is quite unexpected but it also makes the narration unbelievable. It throws a lot of inconsistency to Bianca’s narration. She discovers that she was a vampire all along when she accidentally bit some of Lucas’ blood and then after awhile she’s telling how she was actually raised as a vampire by her vampire parents. She’s telling about how she drinks a cup of blood with every meal since young and how her parents have been telling her that something like this would happen eventually. Okay, maybe the author meant for this reveal to be a nice surprise and twist, and for the most part it was. However, I think it could have been executed better.

If there is one thing that is good in this book I think is the writing. We’ll it’s not superb but at least it’s not bad either. The pacing is quick which makes this an easy read.

So what’s the verdict? There’s are some flaws obviously but it’s not without a promise. Bianca and Lucas are an intriguing couple, to say the least. There are still questions left unanswered which hopefully explains better to the next installment. This book seems to serves an an introductory part of the series, hopefully Stargazer is better.