Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Masquerade, by Melissa de la Cruz

Release date: May 1, 2007
Publisher: Atom books
Format: Paperback, 305 pages

Goodreads description:
Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young vampires. With her best friend, Oliver, Schuyler travels to Italy in the hope of finding the one man who can help - her grandfather. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city's wealthy, powerful, and unhuman - a true Blue Blood affair.

But it's at the after-party, a masquerade ball thrown by the cunning Mimi Force, that the real danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will forever change the course of a young vampire's destiny.

Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsting for more.

The following review is based on a copy I purchased myself and represents my honest opinion.

This review contains spoilers for the first book, Blue Bloods.
It took me a long time to finally pick up Masquerade… it sat on my shelf for a while and I did want to read it, but I couldn’t really remember what happened in the first book all that well so I put off reading it. But I’m glad that I finally got around to it! Like the first book, I enjoyed it. Quite a lot, actually. I had forgotten relatively much of the vampire lore and how their world works, but I found my way back fairly quickly. The fallen angel thing had completely slipped my mind to be honest, and I still find that connection really imaginative!

The book starts off in Venice, where Schuyler and Oliver are looking for Schuyler’s grandfather, Lawrence. Her grandmother told her that he has information about the Silver Bloods who have been killing Blue Blood teenagers, and Schuyler wants to get his help. It takes her a long time to find him, and even longer to convince him though. Back in New York, Mimi Force still hates her, Jack is still torn between his bond to his twin-sister/mate and what he feels for Schuyler, and the Blue Blood council acts as if the Silver Blood threat is over and resolved instead of just lying dormant.

Something I really enjoy about these novels is that we get various POVs but Melissa de la Cruz manages to write the story in a way that still leaves the reader guessing about what is going to happen. Simply because we know more than single characters doesn’t mean we have all the info – it can also be very misleading. To come back to the POV issue, I still rooted for Schuyler because she has her head screwed on right and is a very kind, responsible person for the most part. I enjoyed to see her less innocent and more mature and aware of what’s going on now that she knows about her heritage.
Also, I had forgotten how much I like Bliss, how different she is from Mimi (who is still a selfish bitch). She’s still reeling from Dylan’s death, but there are events that make her doubt that he truly is dead… after all, his body was never found. And then there are her strange blackouts that lead to her waking up in places without any memory of how she got there. Let’s just say that between that and her growing but mostly unacknowledged rivalry with Mimi, Bliss has got her hands full. I’m very curious to see where her arc is going, especially after that ending!

This second book in the series provides yet more background knowledge about the heritage and customs of the Blue Bloods, and these world building aspects are something I enjoyed a lot! I also liked that Schuyler learns more about her abilities, but also about her weaknesses as a half-blood. Then there is the question of whether or not she should take her bond to Oliver (dear, loyal Oliver! My heart goes out to you) to a whole new level…
Oh, and there’s a new guy, Kingsley, who is an iridescent but somewhat mysterious character. Who is he behind his Johnny Depp-ish rebel fa├žade? What does he want? Friend or foe?

But despite all these things, it takes quite a while for any major action to go down. This didn’t necessarily disturb me because there are a lot of long-term developments going on, also about the relationships among the older vampire generation, but I felt the need to point it out. I wanted to keep reading and I felt absorbed, but it wasn’t in a breathless ‘oh my god I have to know what happens next!!’ type of way. I liked to puzzle and guess about who was hiding the Silver Bloods and come up with theories about other stuff, but when I had to put the book away for a couple hours, that wasn’t really a problem either. I was quite surprised when the pace suddenly picked up so much at the end, and even though not all that happened came as a surprise to me, some things did.

As you’ve maybe noticed, I feel a bit conflicted over this series. On the one hand, I really like it a lot. On the other hand, it’s sort of like Gossip Girl for the fanged, and I’m not always sure how I feel about that. The writing is solid and the different character voices distinguishable, but it’s nothing spectacular or breathtakingly beautiful. I like the interspersed snippets from old newspapers though, just as I did the diary entries in book one. Furthermore, I didn’t know what to think about Jack in this book. I understand him, but I wish he’d make up his mind and take a stance. However, after what happened near the end, the next book should definitely interesting when it comes to the dynamic between him, Mimi, and Schuyler.

All in all, Masquerade is a good continuation of the series. It picks up on old issues and brings new developments, new characters and new insights into the relationships between old ones. While I didn’t fall head over heels for it, I find the world building intriguing, the writing engaging, and I will definitely pick up the next book.

Have you read the Blue Bloods novels? What do you think of it? Do you have similar conflicted feelings or is it different for you? Tell me in the comments, but please no spoilers for the following books ;)

1 comment:

  1. I am also conflicted about this series! I really liked the first book but the series has definitely dragged on -- I haven't read the most current book although I definitely liked the last book. I just don't feel motivated. I still like Schuyler but the books have gotten a bit more fantastical as the series has progressed

    Great review!

    Eva @ All Books Considered