Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Evernight #2
Other Reviews for This Author: Evernight
The first book in this four-book series was a surprisingly strong read for me. It was on the dramatic side and I had expected something that was simply a rehash of every vampire story I've ever read, but what I was most shocked about was that this book was fun. This series has the serious love and the heightened emotions that make up the most entertaining stories. With how much I enjoyed Evernight, I came into Stargazer with the expectations of meeting the same level of enjoyment, and the second book holds its own in the series as a whole. Gray has established herself with this and some strong short stories as a solid writer in my book. Her second book doesn't disappoint and makes the reader eager for the third installment.
Teens Bianca and Lucas met at Evernight Academy. Lucas was there for the first time, and Bianca's parents were establishing themselves as live-in professors like the rest of the educational staff. Boarding school was not looking strong for either of them, but one thing they did come to like about Evernight Academy was their relationship with each other. Bianca and Lucas fell in love the way starcrossed teenagers do, and it seemed like their relationship would be fairly normal until their reality started to unravel. Bianca, as well as a majority of Evernight's population, was a vampire. Lucas was a vampire hunter. Things did not go according to plan.
Now, Bianca and Lucas are still in love, but they are no longer together at good-old Evernight Academy. Lucas is stationed with the Black Cross, the most deadly and prominent of the vampire hunting groups, and is presumably far away from the goings on at Evernight Academy. Balthazar seems ready to pick up the pieces and take over where Lucas left off, but Bianca can only think of the older vampire as a brother. Balthazar has trouble accepting the fact that Bianca won't be his, but he can continue to hope as Lucas is out of the picture...or is he?
Evernight Academy has more in store for Bianca, Balthazar, and Lucas than they could have ever anticipated. As tension between the school for vampires and the Black Cross heats up, so does the tension between Bianca and her love interests. Bianca and Lucas find difficult ways to see each other, but the ultimate risk is worth it if it means being together. The family Lucas knows at the Black Cross still doesn't realize that the mysterious Bianca isn't a trapped human student at Evernight, and a ghostly apparition that begins showing itself at the school also spells bad tidings. Can Bianca and Lucas ever overcome the odds and be together, or is there more than just human/vampire tension that's keeping them apart?
Claudia Gray does a great job of keeping Bianca interesting and relative in this sequel. It had been about a year since I read Evernight, so my direct details of Bianca were fuzzy on the reading, but I easily slipped back into her narration as I started Stargazer. Gray does a great job of establishing who Bianca was when the last book left off and then moves on. Stargazer is a very important story in the series concerning separation between the protagonists. It helps strengthen their relationship, but at the same time it helps quell the feelings of insta-love that Bianca seemed to give off in Evernight. Bianca's a very likable character that is fun to read about because of the drama and stakes that she has going on in her life. She's very sneaky and willing to go big in order to get what she wants. It leads to her making some very teenage decisions. However, I find her realistic as a teenager in regards to the rash decision making, and when things are important she's willing to fight for herself and for what she loves. Bianca gets pulled in many directions because of the good people she sees in the Black Cross and the good vampires she sees at Evernight. The moral conundrum that Bianca faces is what really makes her stand out for me in this book. She faces this complex tug between the human and vampire sides, and the gray area that it actually is doesn't feel like an authorial tempt at a moral lesson for teenagers. Everyone is the same, stop with the misunderstandings! Bianca isn't afraid to question her beliefs, the people around her, and even Lucas and his beliefs. Gray makes her a really great character in that regard. Bianca is naturally suspicious and used to drama, and it allows her to show readers and herself that questioning is needed, even if it does make things more complex and difficult to deal with in the long run.
The characters that accompany Bianca in this volume really start to show themselves in terms of their complexity in the plot. Some of them are merely there as villains and plot-needed people, but Gray manages to make them feel like real characters instead of just plot devices. Balthazar is still just as rugged, sexy, and brooding as ever. It may seem odd that he isn't the love interest at first, but I love that Gray is able to show his complex friendship with Bianca and hint at the darker parts of his past in Stargazer. We as readers really get a stronger connection to what his character is supposed to have in terms of motivation. Lucas was still quite heroic in this volume, but Bianca's questioning of his issues regarding vampires is very welcome, and I liked that their relationship wasn't shown as something that was without internal struggles. Lucas is still on the "ridiculously perfect" side, but I have come to find him a good character despite the definition he seems to fit. Bianca's parents, Lucas's family, and some of the vampire students (new and old characters) return with a sense of strong place as well. Gray has a lot of side characters that I can remember (names non-withstanding - I'm bad at remembering names outside of the main characters) by personality and action, and I find that really great. These characters don't all have a lot of complexity beyond their place in the plot, but they all work together very well and leave a good enough impression on me that I remember their personalities and interactions with Bianca, Balthazar, and Lucas.
Gray's writing is really the biggest reason why I've come to find this series positively amazing. It's a style that incorporates a fair amount of description and word use without overusing either one, and it really encapsulates the drama and intrigue of the world. As a reader, I can also tell that Gray had fun writing this series. That is what makes it so fun to read. Gray's style sucks you in and gets you invested in the characters and story. Whenever she pulls out a new twist, the reader immediately gets a sense of heightened excitement. Gray knows how to take a book that in all reasoning should have been slow and make it fast paced by the way her style and the plot flow. She turned Bianca's drama and moral problems into something that could also be addressed with a plot and with actual events that go on. The middle books of series tend to focus so much on the character that they lose the sense of plotting, but Gray avoids that. Stargazer felt fast and well-paced despite the higher focus on Bianca's struggles compared to the previous book. Ultimately, the style is just something that is infinitely entertaining with this story. Gray's won me over with it, and I've since come to enjoy the various short stories I've read from her because of it. (In case you were wondering, she writes a really solid short story as well.)
I can't be happier with the progress in Claudia Gray's series. I know it's completed now (at four books) with a spin-off novel coming out in 2012 based on Balthazar (heck yes), and I aim to finish reading it in time for the spin-off. Gray's writing is fabulous, and I always find it satisfying without losing the entertainment value it holds. Gray really captures the readers emotions and gives them a story high in drama, characterization, and pure romantic fun. It's got its share of angst and love-interest-confusion, but Gray makes it stand out with her voice and the ability to twist cliches into things that benefit the overall plot and the characters within it. For anyone that wants to read a solid paranormal series for the YA set, I have to turn them towards this series. It has its faults - and its vampires, which are as much a deterrent as a selling point these days - but I love it and that love only gets stronger as I read through it.
Cover: I really love these covers, although the similarities to the first book in terms of how the face is positioned and what-not make it dull. I like that the style is uniform, though, and it's an appealing uniformity.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Copy: Bought (yay!)