Yesterday I finished reading Evernight by Claudia Gray. I’ve seen the novel described as “Twilight done right” so naturally I had to find out if there’s another vampire series that could be as beloved to me as books that got me back into reading. (If you haven’t read Evernight, please be aware that spoilers are everywhere from this point on.)
Now, there are some similarities between Evernight and Twilight that go beyond the simple they-both-have-vampires-so-they-must-be-alike mentality many ignorant people have. Bianca is the protagonist in Evernight and her family structure is similar to Bella’s. They are both only children living in remote areas and socially awkward outsiders. Each teen is in love with a boy that is not of their species (Edward for Bella and Lucas for Bianca), but Bella is the human while Bianca is the vampire. But, while Bella’s parents have separated and her mother Renee has moved on to Phil, Bianca’s parents are happily married. This difference in their family situations plays a large part in one of the main differences in their personality: Bianca is sheltered and naive whereas Bella is mature and almost more of an adult than her mother.
Throughout Twilight, Bella is adult enough to make deliberate decisions through most of her adventure. She knows something is off about Edward, decides to investigate, and then decides she loves him anyway. Bianca, on the other hand, bumbles through Evernight relying on the good graces of those around her to guide her through high school and romance. She relies on her roommate Patrice to provide her with tips on everything from how to dress to navigating her peers to how to be a vampire. Even in her relationship with Lucas, Bianca just bumbles from one point to the next. The only thing she is sure of is that she craves his blood.
As Evernight progresses Bianca develops a larger spine and has the ability to stand up for a classmate being stalked by a vampire, talk back to a teacher who tries to pin Lucas’ betrayal on her, and leave her family behind in order to say goodbye to the boy she loves. Bella never acquires as much character development partially because she starts out a little stronger, but also because Bianca matures in all social and emotional area while Bella only really develops in her relationship with Edward. Bella begins to accept that Edward care for her at the end of the story, but is still unable to consider having him away from her side. Without him, she cannot figure out how to love. Because Bianca’s development is more well-rounded, she is able to function without Lucas (even though it is as painful) and sets the ground for her own path in life that can meet up with Lucas’s or veer away from him.
Maybe it is because Bianca develops both socially and emotionally, but her story directly involves many more characters and has much more action that Bella’s. Both tales begin with the teens arriving at a new school in a remote location. Both girls want to leave until they meet and are instantly attracted to their loves, Edward and Lucas. Because their relationships are a large component of the story, not a lot of action happens while things heat up between the couples. But Bianca is also learning how to reconcile what she is with who she loves and how she fits into Evernight Academy’s social hierarchy. Not yet a vampire, but more than just a human, Bianca discovers new powers, their resulting complications in her love life, and their value in navigating her way between her human and vampire classmates. Bianca saves a classmate multiple times, fights with and actually stops speaking to Lucas (Bella would never consider giving Edward the cold shoulder), and runs off with him to make sure he is safe. Bella’s story focuses primarily on her and Edward with other characters making quick cameos for baseball games and obsessive tracking expeditions.
The endings of both novels are perhaps the most telling aspect of how the stories and characters differ. Bianca leaves us hopeful that she will one day see Lucas again regardless of what her family or schoolmates think of him or whether they can reconcile their very different backgrounds and beliefs. Bella, on the other hand, goes to the prom with Edward and begs him yet again to make her a vampire so she can be just like him. Where Bianca learns to stand on her own two feet, Bella learns to stand on Edward’s as her dances her around the high school gym.
Is Evernight “Twilight done right”? No. Twilight is an epic story about love and absolute devotion; Evernight is a journey of self-discovery and reconciling your place in the world amid what your family and friends want for you. I loved Twilight and really enjoyed Evernight, though without the obsessiveness that marked my reading of Stephenie Meyer‘s work. Both stories stand on their own for their own reasons and liking or disliking one will not guarantee your feelings on the other.