Sunday, July 18, 2010

I want to talk about...


OKAY. Before you start yelling and screaming, hear me out.

It has been a tough couple of years for the vampire literature community. The upsurge of a certain young adult romanticized vampire novel made a legitimate genre slightly unrespectable. Or at the very least, less respectable.

First and foremost, real vamp literature is, for lack of a better word, edgy. Vampires are not cute and sparkly. They are not too humanized. Vampires are mythological creatures and should be respected as so. There is a certain irresistible danger to them; a charm both cunning and desirable. The majesty in vampires is that they are the world's greatest predators. They draw in their prey with eyes and voice, with beauty and grace. Yet they are powerfully violent and virtually indestructible. Their portrayal throughout history has been a combination of hypnotic fascination and fear. Most often, vampires are seen as sexual creatures. It's how they capture their victims. They are sensual, often desensitized to the taboos of the time.

The more accurate depiction of vampire fiction can be seen in many different platforms. In television, the show True Blood shows vampires in an interesting light. They can be caring and human-esque, yet their darker sides always linger, just out of sight. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the original bad ass representation of vamps and humanity's interaction with them. (FYI, I am a HUGE Buffy fan).

But in literature, vamp books run the gambit. But I want to discuss one series in particular - The Anita Blake, vampire hunter novels. I feel like the world Laurell K. Hamilton created captures the essence of what the mythological vamp should be. It reveals a reality much like ours, except the things that go bump in the night exist and are recognized. Vampires are citizens in the United States, and animators bring back the dead to settle insurance claims and finalize wills. The vamps in this world are seductive but also intriguing. They display levels of humanity but the author never lets you forget what they are, be it through the mentioning of their stillness or the power radiating off them. Plus, the books are filled with highly gratifying action sequences littered with plenty of carnage. It shows vampires as bad guys. As Anita says, even if you're undead you can still be a serial killer - just more deadly. But it also depicts vampires in a softer light, as someone cared about, a lover.

Finally, Anita Blake is just an incredibly satisfying heroine. Unlike other vampire novels, Blake isn't a wishy-washy girl, hung up on a vamp, in desperate need of saving. Blake is pretty bad ass. She's a federal marshal who's quick with a gun and even faster with her tongue. Sharp witted, funny, and independent, she makes a great champion. Perhaps that makes all the difference in vampire literature. The vamps are only as good as the humans that surround them.

I like vampire books, despite the hype. I'll read anything Laurell K. Hamilton writes. I liked Anne Rice. I might pick up a couple other books on the way. I've read Dracula knock offs and stories with vamps in varying degrees of horror. Regardless, I'm always drawn back in. It's a subtle fascination I can't avoid and honestly, I really don't want to.

Until next time,


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