Evernight (Evernight, Book 1)

Evernight  - Claudia Gray I'm surprised that I liked Evernight as much as I did - seriously. Claudia Gray creates what seems to be a typical vampire school love story, but ends up being a thrilling race in the latter half of the novel. Bianca is a shy girl uprooted from the life she once knew to adjust to her new life at Evernight Academy, a school where not everything is as it seems. Bianca becomes quite taken with a fellow student who doesn't seem to fit into the academy (Lucas). To be honest, I thought Bianca fell in love with Lucas a little too fast without really getting to know him or question some of his actions, but I think where the novel's direction goes past that point makes up for it. Just be prepared to face some typical teenage pining moments on Bianca's half as her relationship with Lucas grows. The supporting characters are decent, and Gray describes their roles well enough, including Bianca's family. I'm not going to spoil anyone's experience of the novel by mentioning the first big twist of the novel that makes it clear that Bianca's an unreliable narrator. I honestly wasn't expecting it, but once it hit me, I understood a lot of Bianca's reactions and some of the wording that came into play in the first part of the novel. Once that happened, the rest of the novel was smooth sailing for me, even when I had to suspend disbelief at Bianca's naivete in places (I didn't think she was particularly shy either, though this was told to the reader many times). Some of the most obvious questions could've been asked before the point of the next big reveal regarding Lucas's identity, but it made sense once the facts were pieced together. I appreciated the twists and the inherent conflict between Bianca and Lucas's relationship and actually enjoyed some of the more intimate and harrowing moments they faced. Gray has a style of writing that's easy to take in, but the story does suffer from dialogue filled with cheese at times. As for characters, Bianca is tolerable in places and insufferable in others, but in general, I did like and came to understand/feel for her character. Lucas, on the other hand, took this novel by the reins and ran with it. I liked that there was more than one dimension to him, some parts charming and funny, some parts vulnerable, some parts secretive and defensive (even with his tendency to get into fights at a drop of a hat). When certain revelations come to pass, it makes sense why he acts the way he does and puts his seemingly not-so-innocent acts come across with much more dimension and methodical planning. He might even be the only character in this book that had such a distinct role that it redeemed the novel for me. Balthazar's character was decent, but I couldn't help but feel a big meh because he plays a role in the novel, but doesn't come across as more than the cool popular guy who has some affection toward Bianca.I've heard people say that Evernight is a cross between Twilight and Vampire Knight, a popular Japanese shoujo anime/manga. Having read/seen both works, that comparison is accurate, but I found elements of Evernight to be better and worse than the two compared series in spurts. The most tangible similarity to Twilight is that it features a forbidden yet instantaneously developed love story, and the most tangible comparison to Vampire Knight is that there's an obvious triangle as far as the relationships/conflicts go. I have issues with all three stories, but I was able to take them for what they were.I applaud Gray for having an engaging first novel in the Evernight series, and will definitely read into further installments. I would recommend it for those who like paranormal romance stories with a few twists, though I wouldn't come into it expecting the world. It's a light read and it has its flaws, but the journey manages to be enjoyable.Overall score: 3/5