Balthazar

BalthazarTitle: Balthazar
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #5
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: March 6, 2012
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

For hundreds of years, the vampire Balthazar has been alone-without allies, without love.

When Balthazar agrees to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, he has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye's newfound psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel, seductive master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Now Redgrave plans to use Skye's powers for his own evil purposes.

Balthazar will do whatever it takes to stop Redgrave and exact his long-awaited revenge against his killer. As Skye and Balthazar stand together to fight him, they grow closer-first unwillingly, then undeniably. Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by her. . . .


Balthazar was my favorite character from the Evernight series, so I was really excited to read a story from his point of view. If you’ve read Evernight, you know that Balthazar is charming, sweet, and gentle. We never really found out much about his past because he doesn’t like to discuss it, and because Evernight was really about Lucas and Bianca.

Claudia Gray brings the same magic to Balthazar as she did the rest of the Evernight series. What I loved most about the novel is that it brought me closer to my favorite character and explained more about Balthazar’s history, emotions, and train-wreck relationship with his sister, Charity. I also loved the romance—I don’t think you could really have a Claudia Gray novel without romance. Skye and Balthazar were really sweet together and their relationship progressed naturally (no insta-romance here!). Had it been any other way, it would have felt forced and unrealistic.

Overall, Balthazar is a wonderful story for fans of both Claudia Gray and the Evernight series. The romance was extremely well-paced and the deeper delve into Balthazar provided answers to questions I’ve been wondering about since I read the Evernight series. Even though this is slated to be a stand- alone novel, I have to wonder if another story may be in the works. The story was open-ended enough that I still have plenty of questions about what will happen to Balthazar and Skye. Hopefully Claudia Gray will surprise us with a sequel announcement—or another stand-alone featuring Charity 🙂 .

Afterlife

AfterlifeTitle: Afterlife
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #4
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: March 8, 2011
Pages: 360
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Destiny awaits Bianca and Lucas . . .

Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transforms Bianca into a wraith but also turns Lucas into a vampire—the very creature he spent his life hunting—they are left reeling.

Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help . . . Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her ghostly transformation has given her.

A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They've overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges afterlife?


I knew this was the last book in the Evernight series when I started reading it, but for the first 75% of the book I really wasn’t sure how this would wrap it up. So many things happened, but I didn’t feel like it was headed towards a conclusion. I also knew that there will be a spin-off series that follows Balthazar, so I was really starting to wonder if Afterlife would end with a cliffhanger rather a real resolution. I was wrong!

I loved seeing Lucas’ torment over becoming a vampire and how it changed his interactions with Bianca. Since Bianca turned into a wraith, it is impossible for the two of them to be together the way they were before they both died. They do the best they can though, and I think that they are able to comfort each other in the afterlife.

As with Hourglass, Claudia Gray’s writing pulled on my heart strings and made me cry. I didn’t cry nearly as much as I did when I read Hourglass, but she does have a way of pulling at your heartstrings. It’s just so sad! I still like Lucas and I think he and Bianca are a great couple. Even as I write this, I can remember how much I didn’t like Lucas in the first two books. His character came a really long way; he evolved and understands the world so much more than he did before.

I think Claudia Gray conveys a beautiful message with the Evernight series: there are many shades of gray. Not all vampires are evil, not all wraiths are evil, and not all humans are good. There is good and bad in everything, and all too often we fear what we don’t understand. It is important to look at things from all angels and not jump to conclusions because we were taught to think in a certain a way. Overall, this was a fantastic series.

Hourglass

HourglassTitle: Hourglass
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #3
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: March 9, 2010
Pages: 339
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas. 

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option. Soon Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny. Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything... but can it survive what's to come?


***

 

This is one of those series that just keeps getting better. I didn’t really want to put this one down, which surprised me. Bianca and Lucas are together for this entire book, so we get to see their relationship progress. I was previously on team Balthazar, but after this book I am a Lucas fan.

I think we get to know Lucas a lot better in this book. He no longer thinks in terms of black and white when it comes to vampires, and is able to recognize that there are good vampires in the world. However, he is still drawn to Black Cross because it is the only family he has ever known. Lucas’ development in this book was just great. I knew he was physically strong before, but we also get to see his inner strength in this novel. He loves Bianca so much, and he will do whatever he has to do to keep her safe and provide for the two of them.

We also get to see more of Bianca’s inner conflict about leaving her parents and living with a group of Black Cross hunters, but her development wasn’t as interesting to me as Lucas’. What was exciting about Bianca in Hourglass, though, was reading about how her body was changing and following her quest to understand what her options would be if she refused to become a vampire.

Overall, Hourglass is still filled with all the romance we loved in the previous novels, along with danger, excitement, and tragedy. I cried during this book—I mean really cried—because some parts were so sad. And Balthazar—let’s just say I’m with Bianca on this one. I can’t even imagine how things will work out in Afterlife, but I can’t wait to find out!

Stargazer

StargazerTitle: Stargazer
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #2
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: March 24, 2009
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

The vampire in me was closer to the surface... 

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning....


***

 

It’s hard to say how I feel about this book. Stargazer had a much better beginning than Evernight, but the ending wasn’t quite so shocking—which is what made me want to finish the series in the first place! Despite the lack of jaw-dropping, out-of-left-field surprises, there is a lot going on in this novel. The Balthazar-Lucas-Bianca love triangle was seemingly resolved at the end of the Evernight—but if there is one thing this book illustrates, it’s that emotions and relationships are anything but simple. Bianca’s heart may still belong to Lucas, but she is forced into situations with Balthazar that cause them to become close and develop a fondness for each other.

There was so much going in this novel that I loved: betrayal, love, lust, confusion, secrecy, and of course the paranormal. Bianca finally begins to learn more about her world and the circumstances of her birth, which causes her to make some tough decisions about her future. I can’t wait to see how her choices affect her life in the future novels.

Evernight

EvernightTitle: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: February 10, 2009
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
3 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Bianca wants to escape. 

At the eerily Gothic Evernight Academy, the other students are sleek, smart, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

When she meets handsome, brooding Lucas he warns her to be careful--even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between them 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.


***
This book has a lot of good things to offer: a love triangle, a little bit of mystery, a gothic setting, and a great ending. I get the feeling that this series will get better with time, but this is one of those books that evokes a lot of strong feelings. Because of this I will not be able to keep this review spoiler-free. Overall evaluation: great ending, slow beginning.

Spoiler Alert

The ending of Evernight was really good. In fact, the ending was what will make me read the rest of the series. I did not think for a second that Lucas was anything other than an ordinary human, let alone a vampire hunter! As an avid reader, I always appreciate when authors surprise me because so many books have predictable plots.

As much as I loved the ending, however, I can’t believe Bianca never mentioned she was a vampire until half way through the book. Since the book, is told from Bianca’s perspective you would think that she would have mentioned that in order to be a part of the popular crowd you had to be a vampire, that her teachers were vampires, or that she had a cup of blood every morning. There had to be some point in the beginning half of the novel where Bianca reflected on the differences between the humans and the vampires; however, it is completely left out! I have tried to think of reasons for why Bianca would not have mentioned that Evernight was a boarding school for vampires, but I feel like the first person narrative was violated. Maybe Bianca didn’t say anything because her mom raised her not to make distinctions between vampires and humans and to see everyone as people—even if some of these people were literally the walking dead. Maybe she didn’t say anything because she wants to be a normal person, so that she can be with Lucas without any complications. Even with these possibilities, however, I feel lied to. How in the world do you leave out a little detail like being a blood-sucking vampire???

On another note, I am on team Balthzar. He genuinely seems to care about Bianca, he has never lied to her, he is a gentleman, and most importantly he does not want to kill her family!