I was SOOOO thrilled to get my copy of the newest “House of Night” novel by PC & Kristin Cast! I am something of a vampire enthusiast, and have been since before it was trendy. There is quite a bit of vampire material out there now, which is a nice change from the days when if you wanted to read about vamps, it was Anne Rice, Bram Stoker or nothing. However, pop culture of the moment has hit a point of supersaturation with the bloodsuckers lately, and it might be helpful to any readers I might have to separate the good from the bloody awful (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).
- The Good
- Twilight. I know there is quite a bit of Twilight backlash right now, and yes, Bella is a Mary Sue of epic proportions, but I have to give Stephenie Meyer props for bringing the genre into the mainstream. Many critics like to bash these books, but I find them fun and engaging, except for that one scene in Breaking Dawn… if you’ve read the book, you know exactly the scene I’m talking about, and it reeked of squick, and I’m wondering how the heck they’re going to translate that into the film version without making the tweeners hark up their Dippin’ Dots.
- House of Night. PC and Kristin Cast have created a wonderful universe in which vamps live side-by-side with normal humans, which in the early books neatly frames a theme of tolerance and acceptance. A couple of volumes in, the saga evolves into a classic struggle of good versus evil, with elements of redemption, forbidden romance, and a refreshingly snarky tone courtesy of one reformed baddie in particular (Spoiler Alert– Aphrodite is the AWESOME!). While many like to pit Twilight against Harry Potter, that is like comparing apples and oranges, and it might be more fair to compare this series to Rowling’s in terms of scope and execution.
- The Vampire Chronicles. Anne Rice is still the master, and Lestat and his many (mis)adventures are, in this writer’s opinion, still the standard. I mean, what other literary vampire has literally GONE TO HELL, and survived? Of course, there are those unfortunate movies (Queen of the Damned, anyone?), but Lestat remains very much a VILF, unless he happens to be portrayed by Tom Cruise in a fright wig. (Hands from everyone who would rather have seen BRAD play Lestat!)
- The Meh
- The Vampire Diaries. The books are fine of their own merits, but this is definitely one of those rare cases where the adaptation outshines the original in almost every respect. There are some real WTF moments in the books, which have been wisely left alone by the powers that be at the CW. The tv show’s characterizations are more plausible, even for composite characters like Bonnie, and OH MY Ian Somerhalder. Just OH MY. You’d never have guessed that LJ Smith’s somewhat pedestrian take on the genre would have yielded such small-screen gold.
- Dracula. Yes, this is the classic. No, I’m not that fond of it. Too much mileage on these wheels, so much so that even a Mel Brooks-helmed Leslie Nielson parody failed to bring anything fresh. Sorry, Bram Stoker, the tale you tell does NOT excite me.
- The Bloody Awful
- Blue Bloods. Melissa De La Cruz’ series started out with promise, and a novel premise (Spoiler Alert): that vampires are really ANGELS! However, about three books in, the story gets really dry and by the fourth installment, repetitive. Like Twilight, there is some squick here (how creepy are Mimi and Jack as a couple?), but even the cringe factor is overshadowed by how dull and plodding the story becomes. I’m still trying to get through Volume Four, and I’ve had Volume Five for MONTHS… if it gets better, please tell me. I could use some incentive.
- The Jury is Still Out
- The Sookie Stackhouse books. I refuse to watch True Blood until I’ve read at least some of them, and while it’s absolutely on my to-do list, I keep getting waylaid by other stuff, like Facebook. Boo, me.
If anyone has any recommendations I haven’t mentioned here, let me know! I’m always up for something new, and love comments, whether you agree or disagree with my opinions, and thanks for reading!