Friday, 2 July 2010

Interview with a vampire fiction reader

Some people are addicted to smoking, drinking or drugs. Or all of them. Well, my addiction is trashy vampire novels. I think that would explain why in the span of 8 days, I've voraciously consumed 8 Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood novels (I didn't read the first 2 books since I already know the plot from the excellent TV series).

I've also read all of the, ahem, Twilight books. Yes there's real shame involved here. Please, let me explain.

I think I have been lured to vampire fiction since reading Bram Stoker's Dracula for the Gothic Literature class I took in university. It was one of the best novels from that class, well-written and fascinating. It is often read as a commentary on suppressed sexuality, especially fear of overt female sexual expression portrayed via Lucy's transformation from Victorian virgin to vampire vixen after being bitten by Dracula.

Vampires are interesting monsters because even though they are powerful and seem invincible, they are actually really vulnerable to attack. Wooden stake, sunlight, garlic, crucifix...all Krytonite to vampires. As monsters, they are probably the sexier ones of the lot, often cunningly seducing victims and bending them to their will. The blood, sex and death undertones of vampire stories are often a reflection of society's attitudes towards them.

Hence, the recent resurrection (heh) of vampires in the literary world piqued my interest again. I am intrigued by the portrayal of the modern fiction vampire in both Twilight and True Book series. Let's start with True Blood, which I feel is stronger of the two. I'm saying this not just because Alan Ball does a fantastic job of pushing the envelope with the TV adaptation of True Blood but the books are also definitely more interesting. The premise is that Japanese scientists have invented synthetic blood so the vampires can come out of the closet and live amongst humans. Since the human race feels a tad insecure about being potential prey, the vampires are often obstracised and relegated to minority status. It is almost like the civil rights movement all over again, except that the oppressed are physically superior and may not feel a qualm about ripping your head off. The author Charlaine Harris has created a fascinating world in which vampires live alongside with humans, and came up with details of how vampires can survive in such a world. For example, some of them own successful businesses such as a vampire bar to attract tourists who would like to get closer to vampires. They have human underlings who carry out their errands in the day. They even have a special airline called Anubis Air, which transports them in their coffins when they want to fly to another state.

What I like about the series is also how it sticks to the fiction vampire myths and improves on them; for example, they will burn in the sun, they need to be invited to a house before being able to enter, but also, their blood is a precious and much sought-after commodity as it gets people high and heals their wounds. The Twilight vampires, on the other hand, are able to walk around in the sun and get this, they *SPARKLE*. They also do not need an invitation to homes to enter and can only be killed by being torn apart and then burnt to crisp. Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned staking?

As for the epic love story of Twilight, I never really got why two extremely good-looking men are fighting over an indecisive and rather boring girl. I guess that is the wish fulfillment of tween girls - that you may not have the looks or even the personality, but some handsome fella(or two) will look beyond that somehow and think you are the bee's knees? Maybe. I enjoyed Eclipse the most out of the Twilight books because it features two supernatural creatures who are supposedly natural enemies - the werewolves versus the vamps till I found out that there is already a similar storyline in Club Dead (the 3rd True Blood book) which was written 5 years earlier. Coincidence? Also, the last book, Breaking Dawn, completely ruined the series for me because the plot is ridiculously dumb (sorry, Twi-hards, but it is).

While these book series are not intellectual fodder, they are fairly entertaining, light reads which have the potential to waste consume more of your time than you expected. Consider yourself warned.

p.s: The True Blood TV series is the bee's knees. Seriously.

3 comments:

  1. Did you ever get into Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series or comic books, not the movie)? That's the only vampire fiction I've gotten into, so I was just wondering what you might think of it.

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  2. Yes I really enjoyed the tv series (didn't read the comics). I thought the characters were well-developed and interesting, especially Buffy was great as a strong female lead in a tv show. Unfortunately, I think the series weakened once they created the Angel spinoff and took away some of the main characters :\

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  3. I mean, Buffy could kick vampire ass! As compared to moping Bella who always needed to be rescued. I think Joss Whedon did a good job. What did you think of it?

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