I had read the first two books in the Cirque du Freak series and liked them well enough. I even watched the movie (I know, I know, but I do love John C. Reilly. Sadly, even he wasn't enough to save this movie.). The premise is interesting enough (even for a non-vampire-lover like me!), but I find it really hard to find time to dedicate to a series. In addition, the first two books seemed really young to me. I think they'd be a great fit for 6th or 7th graders, maybe 8th.
Still, I was intrigued by this newest saga from Darren Shan (here's a tidbit not at all related to anything: I love the name Darren. My daughter was going to be a Darren if she'd been a boy). In general I really adore prequels, especially when they're written and/or read after the fact.There's just something about reading someone's past history to give you a sense of why they behaved a particular way in their present or future (that made way more sense in my head!). So I picked up the first book, Birth of a Killer, with interest.
I was quite pleased, I have to say. The tone of this trio (since #4 isn't out until next year I can only review the first 3 books, of course) is definitely older--this is a set of books for the high school set--especially if they loved Cirque du Freak a few years ago! I absolutely loved reading about Larten as a boy, how the orange hair came about, and how he ended up where he did.
The second book, Ocean of Blood, was equally intriguing, as Larten is a teenager (well, in vampire years, anyway) and readers will be amused to discover that typical teenage angst transcends the years--and the species! And also, the ending of this book? Cliffhanger. Well, as much of a cliffhanger as you can have, already knowing that eventually Larten ends up with the Cirque. Anyway.
I just finished book 3, Palace of the Damned. Still good, but now I'm getting antsy, knowing the "end" of the saga is near. There are still tons of questions I want answered. In addition, reading this book reminded me of another reason I don't like reading series: unless I read them one after the other, it's far too difficult for me to recall what happened from one book to the next. I did have that problem with this book, but Darren Shan was very good about retelling events without making it sound like a retelling. For instance, how in Sweet Valley High or The Baby-Sitters Club the author always takes a few pages to re-introduce everyone--you basically know you can skip, like, five pages of the first chapter because they're just copied and pasted from book to book? This saga isn't like that. Darren is a master at gently reminding us of what happened without making it sound repetitive.
Was happy to see an entry for the final book, Brothers to the Death, on Goodreads, although currently there's little more than the title and the release date--April 30, 2012. But at least I know the end is in sight!