The Dead Girls' Dance
Published 2007 238 pages
Claire Danvers has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains, homicidal girls in her dorm, and above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with vampires. On the up side she has a great roommate (who tends to disappear at sun-up), and a new boyfriend named Shane whose vampire- hunting dad has called in back-up: cycle punks who like the idea of killing just about anything...
Now the fraternity is throwing the Dead Girls’ Dance and surprise (!) Claire and her equally out-cast best friend Eve have been invited. When they find out why, all hell is going to break loose. Because this time both the living and the dead are coming out—and everybody’s hungry for blood.
The Dead Girls’ Dance is the second book in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series and I can guarantee that you will be confused about what is going on in The Dead Girls’ Dance if you haven’t read Glass Houses first. Assuming that you have read Glass Houses you will remember that the first Morganville Vampires novel ended on a cliff-hanger and this is exactly where Dead Girls’ begins, dropping the reader straight into the action right from the start.
From there the action never really lets up until the end of the novel. Fans of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series will be familiar with the author’s ability to cram a couple of days timeline into a whole novel, giving the reader a non-stop action-packed read and she gives The Dead Girls’ Dance the same treatment to good effect.
I loved Glass Houses and was seriously looking forward to reading its follow up (I even marked the publication date in my diary) but I have to say that overall The Dead Girls’ Dance didn’t live up to my expectations.
The central characters are well fleshed out but the supporting cast seem to suffer from a serious lack of depth, in fact they seem to be somewhat one-dimensional. An example of this is seen in the second chapter where a vampire slaying biker decides to corner Eve and Claire in their bedroom, presumably for nefarious purposes (possibly rape and general mayhem?) But as the biker is cardboard cut-out villain we will never what motivation he had for this. I’m sure that just because someone rides a motorbike it doesn’t automatically make raping teenage girls their favourite hobby.
Possibly the most annoying thing about this story is that Claire is supposed to be a genius but she doesn’t act like it. She constantly puts herself in harms way and then has to be rescued from danger by others. The best example of this is when she is supposed to be staying out of trouble and has been told to stay at home where it’s safe. Does she? No, she insists that she has to go to school and so she goes to class where she doesn’t have to study because she read all her text books at the start of term and this allows her to spend the class time writing out her thoughts about her boyfriend in the back of her journal. Couldn’t she have done this at home? Is this intelligent behaviour?
Claire gets roofied and nearly raped by some college boys. After she is rescued from this peril by her friends what happens next? Nothing - the college boys explain that they only drugged Claire and were going to rape her because Monica (Claire’s arch enemy) put them up to it. Well that makes it okay then! The boys weren’t reported to the police, didn’t get punished but were told not to do it again. After the event Claire didn’t give her ordeal much further thought, just one paragraph where she ponders that these boys seemed so nice before they tried to gang rape her. Drug rape is a serious issue. Dead Girls’ may be a fantasy novel but that’s no excuse for treating such a serious issue in a frivolous manner.
The Dead Girls’ Dance is written for the young adult market and contains coming of age themes but I would like to see Claire act in an intelligent manner and either not put herself in harms way or be capable of rescuing herself when she finds herself in danger. Her character is written to be a genius - let’s see her start acting like one!
This review has probably come across as a bit harsh and while I didn’t enjoy The Dead Girls’ Dance as much as Glass Houses I didn’t totally hate the book either so don’t let me put you off reading it if you are so inclined. It will be interesting to see how the story develops in Midnight Alley the next book in this series, scheduled for publication October 2007.
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