Damn you straight to hell, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, look what you made me do. You made me read a goddamn vampire book. Not only that, you made me read a vampire book with a cover made entirely of shiny ostentatious gold material that shouted to everyone in the library as I checked this out, “Look everyone! Madeline is reading a book about vampires! SHINY SHINY SHINY LOOK AT ME! I CONTAIN SEXY BROODING VAMPIRES AND I AM SO EFFING SHINY.”
(I cannot stress how shiny-gold this cover is. Like, the ancient Egyptians would look at this cover and say, “That’s a bit much.” It was awful.)
Okay, so the book itself isn’t bad, really – hence my rating of two stars, which I classify as “it was ok.” That’s what the book is: just okay. Maybe I would have been more thrilled by the story if I hadn’t seen the movie – even though there’s stuff in the book that didn’t make it into the movie, none of it is particularly thrilling. At least the movie made the wise decision to keep the blatant, in-your-face-but-unacknowledged homoeroticism of the original source (seriously, this book is, and I mean this in the most literal way possible, the gayest thing I’ve ever read)/ I’m glad, though, that the movie changed the fact that a) Claudia is only five years old in the book and b) she and Louis do everything except actually have sex with each other. In the book they’re always kissing and caressing each other and Louis is calling her his lover and his paramour and it is so fucking creepy.
But, lest we forget, vampire books are supposed to be creepy. In these post-Twilight days, it’s easy to forget that there was once a time where vampires fucked and killed and were a general amoral all-around good time, and if one of them chose to be all broody and sad about being a vampire, he was the weird one that no one else wanted to hang out with. God, I miss those days – to the point where I considered giving this an extra star, just because I was so grateful to read a story about vampires who do actual vampire stuff and it’s sexy and scary instead of boring and schmoopy.
Also good was how in-depth Rice goes into the psychology of vampires, and I loved her explanation for why they haven’t overrun the planet: most vampires are miserable, and end up killing themselves. Explains Armand, who I will continue to picture as Antonio Banderas and you can’t stop me:
“How many vampires do you think have the stamina for immortality? They have the most dismal notions of immortality to begin with. For in becoming immortal they want all the forms of their life to be fixed as they are and incorruptible…When, in fact, all things change except the vampire himself; everything except the vampire is subject to constant corruption and distortion. Soon, with an inflexible mind, and often even with the most flexible mind, this immortality becomes a penitential sentence in a madhouse of figures and forms that are hopelessly unintelligible and without value. One evening a vampire rises and realizes what he has feared perhaps for decades, that he simply wants no more of life at any cost.”
That part was pretty cool. But as for the rest, I’ll just watch the movie, thanks. Or not, because if we’re going to be honest I don’t even like the movie that much. It’s probably time to admit to myself that I have no interest in reading about/watching any vampires not created by Joss Whedon. Sorry, Ms. Rice, but if my vampires must be broody, I at least want them to be funny and charming too. (or Alexander Skarsgard, because god damn)
Verdict: two out of five stars