Saturday, May 23, 2015

...vampire ramblings...

toilet paper bride competition
Mom embroidered a Team Edward shirt :p

In August 2008, I read the Twilight series right before Breaking Dawn was released. As many of you may know, Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final novel in the series by American author Stephenie Meyer. My friend convinced me to read them which honestly wasn’t too difficult because I have always enjoyed vampire literature and Young Adult (YA) lit. Even more than that, Barnes & Noble was hosting a midnight release party and much of the focus was on the Edward-Bella wedding. I remembered enjoying the novels just fine. I didn’t love them and I didn’t loathe them as somehow I hold this reputation among the students in my vampire lit & film course. Honestly, my take is always “if you like this, then you should really read/view this” reflecting them to some piece that was created pre-2000s or in other cases pre-1990s/ pre-1980s/ pre-1900s. You get the drift. Some of you readers may hate the series in the same way that some of you hate little chains like Hot Topic. I see them more as a gateway… “Come to the Dark Side; we have cookies!”

Anyhow, 2008 feels like it was another life ago. In many ways for me it was. I was married to another with another group of friends… none of which was healthy. For several years, I recall that the end of May held a bit of solace. That was when the Southern Vampire novels (which later became known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries) by Charlaine Harris was released. I picked up the first few at the library and after I was caught up on the series, I had to patiently wait (after always pre-ordering) for the books to be released.

2008 was marked as the summer of vampires. It included all kinds of ridiculous but fun activities including the B&N midnight release party where I hung out with a bunch of tweens and teens at a book release party. Not to mention that our toilet papered bride won!

I’ve been thinking of my 2008 summer a great deal because without making a grand statement, I’ve started catching up on some fun vampire-related reading/viewing. Last month, I wrote a review about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (2013) by Holly Black. Earlier in the year, I read NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (loved it! Those King boys really know how to write some scary vampires… plus Christmas!) and I reread The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. As a side note, the RVA Horror Book Club has really gotten me more focused on making more time for fun reading! Now my train time is devoted to fun reading instead of working.  I also just finished The Passage by Justin Cronin a few weeks ago. I won’t read the sequels. This was the second time that I attempted reading this. It was 912 pages and I just didn’t care for the characters nor did I really care if they survived. The virals (aka vampires) were pretty interesting though. They were frightening and uncanny but in the end, I didn’t think Cronin focused on them enough. The idea of a vampire plague and the transformation of humans to vampires were interesting. I even enjoyed having a city surrounded by lights to protect itself from the virals while knowing the batteries were slowly dying. This completely worked. But in the end, I just wanted the book to end.

On my flight to New Orleans, I started Fledgling by Octavia Butler. Although I’ve just started, I’m also pretty shrug about it. This is Butler's final novel. The story is about a young amnesiac vampire girl who is trying to recall who she is. Maybe it’s because The Passage and Fledgling both have young female protagonists??? That can’t be only it though. I’ll see Butler’s novel to the end too more because it isn’t that long (320 pages) and because it does promise me an interesting focus on otherness and slavery.  Plus, the main vampire girl is African-American which is super rare to find.

Just when I figured I was jaded about the vampire literature in general, I watched Afflicted (2013), a found-footage Canadian thriller by writing-directing duo Clif Prowse and Derek Lee. Afflicted had its world premiere in 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won a special jury citation for Best Canadian First Feature Film. It was later released to video-on-demand in April 2014.  Lee and Prowse star in the movie as two friends who plan to travel the world. Derek is taking this trip in spite of his family’s concerns and his doctor's advice. He has “AVM”, a cerebral arteriovenous malformation that is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain. Basically at any moment, he could die. Derek’s reason for the trip IS because of this. If he wants to see the world, he has to see it now. And who better to take this journey with him than his best friend and partner in crime, Clif. When Derek “hooks up” with a woman he meets in Paris, the Derek’s health goes from bad to worse. I really don’t want to add much more about the film because there are several surprises. Because it’s a low-budget horror film, I was actually pleased that there wasn’t the CGI special effects that often take me out of the picture.

Afflicted got me excited about vampires again… not that I really needed the excitement, I suppose but still. I’m looking forward to starting The Strain series by Guillermo Del Toro because I’m very much enjoying the television series on FX. The second season begins in July!


  1. I have not read vampire literature in ages but these books you feature sound really interesting! I love these book recommendations. :D

  2. It sounds like the vampire novels were a bit of a lifeline in a difficult time, it is great to hear how books inspire people and one of the reasons I write!

  3. Some good books for my Amazon wishlist! I must see if I can find Afflicted somewhere, as we don't have video on demand ... it sounds interesting. I get bored of the big blockbuster movies. :)