Evernight, by Claudia Gray
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Harper Teen (June 1, 2008)
Reading Level: YA
Source: purchased at bookstore
Bianca wants to escape.
She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.
Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.
"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.
WOW. I'm not sure where to begin with this book. I got this book when I was going through a post-Twilight fever for all things "teen" and "vampire" and (rather embarrassingly) just picked up anything with fangs at Barnes & Noble. I didn't have any expectations for this new author, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was hooked within the first few chapters. For me, this is one of those read-in-one-sitting kind of books, with romance, mystery, adventure, hot boys with a rebellious streak, and just a sprinkling of teen angst. I think if you have any vague interest in the young adult paranormal genre, this book will definitely appeal to you, and your friend, and your neighbor, and your mailman...
Why did I like this book so much? It's hard to say. I've read many teen paranormal books/series and quite a few of them have had vampires, or attractive young men, or boarding schools with secrets, but Evernight really stands out for me. I think a main part about that is that the protagonist, Bianca, has something different about her. I get really irritated when all I read about are normal girls who sit around waiting for some gorgeous boy/creature to come and rock her world, so I loved reading about Bianca who had her own unique connection to the paranormal world meet Lucas, who has mysterious prejudices and defenses (that aren't fully revealed until the end). The dynamic of the two of them really worked for me. Sometimes authors have the right formula for "teen romance" but the pair just lacks chemistry; with Evernight, Bianca and Lucas had great banter and interactions, and all of their scenes together were memorable and interesting to get into. The relationship in general, was just great to read about, and I kept thinking about what's-coming-next for them, long after I finished with this book.
Bianca/Lucas aside, I like that there were other characters who played significant roles in the story. Bianca's best friend at the academy, Raquel, has her own dilemma and fears that make her question the academy, which are totally separate from Lucas' reasons for mistrusting the school. Bianca's parents -- teachers at the school -- also functioned prominently into the story, and all the scenes with them having family dinners or discussions were nice, because most YA books just pretend that young people don't have families or have families that are totally oblivious. It was refreshing to read about characters who had their own things going on that didn't revolve around the "core couple." And, since I'm sure you are all wondering, Yes, there is a potential love triangle with another character Balthazar. Balthazar is the perfect "Evernight type" and a genuinely good guy, who we see a few interesting exchanges between himself and Bianca in this book, but I know this isn't the last of him...
Finally, I just really liked the concept of Evernight Academy. The school itself has an interesting past, and some of the things Bianca and Lucas learn about the academy --like that is accepts both human and vampire students -- are so interesting, that even if they are not completely answered in this book, I cannot wait to see them explored later in the series.
Evernight is the first in a four-book series. Following are Stargazer and Hourglass, with the fourth book, Afterlife, to be released in 2011. I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for a twist on the teen vampire story, or for fans of young adult fantasy in general.