The first book in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, Glass Houses, focuses on Claire Danvers, a sixteen year old genius who is early-admitted to college at Texas Prairie University. Claire's a misfit in more ways than one, and when she inadvertantly makes THE popular girl look foolish in front of her clique of friends, Claire becomes the vicious target of Monica Morrell. After several bruises and threats, Claire realizes she can no longer live in the dorm and seeks a room through an ad. And though the three roomies already living in The Glass House have reservations about taking on an underage roommate, they decide to give Claire a chance at safety for at least a month. Problems over, right? Oh, did I forget to mention the vampires that run the town?
The storyline in Glass Houses is very dark, and things don't get better as the novel moves along. Claire, for all her youth and innocence, figures things out pretty quickly, and her crush on Shane, one of her roommates, is sweet yet tentative. There is a lot of hiding, running, and some violence; like some other reviewers, I have to say that Monica and her gang were far more vicious than the vampires. Claire's relationships with the goth Eve and the ghost Michael solidify quickly, and even if her parents arrive to order her home, it's pretty easy to see that Claire's coming into her own. The story ends on a major, major cliffhanger; of course I'm quite glad I happen to already have book two ready and waiting.
Glass Houses isn't without its faults; Claire is very lucky very often, and her reluctance to deal with Amelie is naive. The supernatural aspect tied to Morganville itself doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but then again, this is a paranormal novel so that can be excused. Caine gives her characters a strong sense of realism, even though a few secondary characters come off as over-the-top. That said, I am hooked enough to go straight into the second book in order to find out just how several threads left hanging will be resolved. This one's sure to appeal to all young adults interested in the paranormal.