Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Publication Date: March 2010
Hardcover: 352 pages
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 their 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?
Stand alone or series: Book 3 in the ongoing Evernight series
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book: I have read and reviewed both prior books in the series, Evernight and Stargazer, and really enjoyed them both. With the way things ended in Stargazer, of COURSE I was going to read Hourglass!
**BE ADVISED! This review contains necessary, MAJOR spoilers for the first two books in the series. If you have not read the first two books in the series and do not wish to be spoiled, look away!**
Immediately following the Black Cross attack on Evernight Academy, Bianca and Lucas have fled the school and joined Lucas’s mother and stepfather in the fanatical, vampire killing ranks of the Black Cross. With no other choice but to pose as loyal members of the group, Bianca and Lucas bide their time with Black Cross until they can save enough money to run away together, to be free of the ties that both Evernight and Black Cross have to them. But learning to kill her own kind and seeing the extent of the fanatical hate of all vampires in the group leaves Bianca terrified and deeply conflicted – how should she react when she’s sent on patrol? And, more importantly, what will become of her if they ever discover that she is actually a living vampire? The situation only grows more tense when Bianca and Lucas are pursued by the formidable Miss Bethany, headmistress of Evernight Academy, and Charity, the deranged, vampire younger sister of Balthazar. Bianca and Lucas find themselves trapped in an impossible situation, but will stop at nothing until they are safe and together.
If you’ve read and stuck with the series this far, Hourglass most likely won’t disappoint you. Shifting the action from the gothic, atmospheric grounds of Evernight Academy, this third installment gives readers an insight to the mysterious Black Cross their rough, almost sad, lifestyle as they move from city to city on the hunt for any and all vampires. I did find myself missing Evernight, but change is a good thing, and learning more about this fanatical organization was a fascinating turn of events. I love that Ms. Gray shows both sides of the vampire-human story – both the vampires and the Black Cross have their own recommending and detracting factors. On the one hand, the Black Cross do have a mission to protect and to serve, keeping humanity safe from violent, malevolent vampires. On the other, however, the Black Cross are so absolute in their views that all vampires are evil monsters (and thus they all must be killed), that the old saying about hunters becoming what they hunt comes to mind. I liked that a lot about Hourglass.
In terms of characters, Hourglass is a bit of a mixed bag. I love that all of the main characters in the story aren’t perfect; in fact, they’re far from it. Protagonist Bianca is infuriatingly dense at times, committing her own massive lapses in judgement – initially, I had a hard time with the offputting, blasé attitude Bianca had towards the Black Cross (hello, the people who you were taught were murderers? The people who WOULD murder even the most innocent and passive of vampires – her own mother and father! – for the mere fact that they have fangs?). In general, Bianca’s passivity chafed. Whether it be in her attitude towards the Black Cross, her discovery that something might be wrong with her, physically, her role in the relationship with Lucas…it was grating, at times. BUT, that all said, one of the things that endears Bianca is that she learns from her mistakes. She’s by no means perfect, and not any ideal role model by any stretch of the imagination. But then again, she’s not supposed to be. She’s a regular girl, scared and trapped in a situation that is much larger than herself, and her at times selfish, at times obtuse actions are understandable at the very least. And, to Bianca’s credit, she eventually sees her mistakes for the huge screwups that they are, and she takes the responsibility and faces the consequences of her actions.
Similarly, Lucas is a far from perfect character – though Bianca is smitten with him, he’s abrasive and hot-headed, and overly-proud…but that’s what makes him a genuine, relatable character. He might not be a character that I love, but the love that he and Bianca share is genuinely touching and believable. And thankfully, the dynamic between Lucas and Bianca is more balanced than in the prior novels (where Lucas strayed towards dangerously controlling boyfriend territory). Both Bianca and Lucas have grown as characters and towards each other, and that’s a cool thing to see in a series. In that same vein, even my beloved Balthazar is the same flawed character – unable to see that Charity, his twisted younger sister, will never be sane. The other character interaction I have to mention is the changing relationship between Raquel and Bianca – Raquel’s hatred of anything supernatural (perfectly natural after the torture she has suffered at Evernight) becomes an issue in this book as she eagerly laps up everything the Black Cross teaches her.
In terms of plotting, what can I say? Hourglass has a number of twists and turns, leading to a dramatic conclusion. If there’s one thing I can say for Hourglass, it’s that there is no shortage of melodrama in this book. Complaining about this aspect, however, is like complaining water is wet. That’s what makes the book, and this series at large, such a good guilty pleasure. Yeah, some of Hourglass‘s plot points are ridiculously silly (i.e. why wouldn’t Bianca and Lucas just leave Black Cross immediately? Given how dangerous the situation was for Bianca and the fact that both Bianca and Lucas have very rich friends, the whole “saving money” excuse seems a little disingenuous). But that said, I absolutely LOVED all of the crazy teenage shenanigans, the incredibly over-the-top melodrama at the end, ridiculous though it may be. Hourglass is like that soap opera, that CW or MTV show that you simply cannot tear yourself away from. It manages to be both utterly ridiculous, and yet strangely satisfying. Sorta like the literary equivalent of really bomb Chinese takeout.
I’ll be back for the fourths, given the cliffhanger at the end of this one.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From the first chapter:
I GASPED FOR AIR SO HARD THAT MY CHEST ACHED. My face felt hot, and strands of my hair stuck to the sweaty back of my neck. Every single muscle hurt.
In front of me was Eduardo, one of the leaders of this Black Cross cell, with a stake in his hand. All around us, his vampire hunters, a ragtag army in denim and flannel, watched in silence. None of them would help me. We stood apart from them in the center of the room. Harsh overhead light painted him in stark shadows.
“Come on, Bianca. Get in the game.” His voice could sound like a growl when he chose, and every word echoed off the concrete floor and metal walls of the abandoned warehouse. “This is a fight to the death. Aren’t you even going to try to stop me?”
If I sprang at him in an effort to grab his weapon or knock him down, he’d be able to throw me to the floor. Eduardo was faster, and he’d been hunting for years. He’d probably killed hundreds of vampires—all of them older and more powerful than me.
Lucas, what can I do?
But I didn’t dare look around for Lucas. I knew that if I took my eyes away from Eduardo for a second, the battle would be over.
I took a couple of steps backward, but I stumbled. The borrowed shoes I wore were too big for me, and one of them slipped off my foot.
“Clumsy,” Eduardo said. He turned the stake between his fingers, as if imagining different angles at which to strike. His smile was so satisfied—so smug—that I stopped being scared and started being mad.
I grabbed up the shoe and flung it at Eduardo’s face as hard as I could.
It smacked into his nose, and our audience burst out laughing. A few of them clapped. The tension had disappeared in an instant, and I was once more part of the gang, or so they thought.
Thanks again to Harper Collins’ awesome Browse Inside feature, you can check out the first 70 pages of Hourglass, completely for free. I highly recommend you take a peek:
For those folks who haven’t read the series yet and are intrigued (or for those that HAVE read the series and want another copy or want to pass it along to friends), we are giving away ONE copy of Evernight, the first book in the titled series. Entry is simple – just leave a comment here, letting us know which YA Vampire book or series is your favorite. The contest is open to residents of the US only, and will run until Saturday, March 27th at 11:59 PM (PST).
Rating: 7 – Very Good
Reading Next: Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes