I like lists. I like reading. I love lists of books to read, and I love tracking what I’ve read. And so, I use The StoryGraph. If you’re unfamiliar with The StoryGraph, it’s a book tracking app that’s unaffiliated with any large bookseller. Which is why it’s my preferred book tracking app.
The app offers reading challenges, which are basically lists of books for participants to read. These lists range from author catalogs to genre specific, to theme based, or even book/film based. Some have time frames – like read X books in a year. Many don’t. Some books may be listed on more than one challenge If you like lists like I do, that makes it extra exciting – read one book, cross it off two or more lists! Wahoo!
What does any of that have to do with vampires? Recently I read three vampire themed books. Each of them was listed on at least one of my challenges. I thought reviewing them together would be interesting, especially since I found myself reading them back-to-back, and congruently.
So, that’s what I’m doing, reviewing them together.
Title: Dracula / Interview with a Vampire / Twilight
Author: Bram Stoker / Anne Rice / Stephenie Meyer
Date/year published: 1897 / 1976 / 2005
Genre: classic, horror, mystery / fantasy, horror, thriller / fantasy, romance, YA
Format: e-pub, digital for all three
Why did I choose to read it:
Dracula: The book that popularized vampire lore and introduced the world to Dr. Van Helsing, it remains on many “must read lists”. I had read it previously, but it was such a long time ago, I felt it deserved a reread.
Interview with a Vampire: Also on a “best of list”, this book started Anne Rice’s vampire series, and is considered by many a modern classic.
Twilight: On both a banned book list and the PBS Great American Read, I begrudgingly read it. I say begrudgingly because despite its popularity, my love of YA fantasy and vampiric lore, I didn’t think it would be my kind of book. See Thoughts for more on this.
Dracula: Dracula, comes to England to “hunt” and is thwarted by Dr. Van Helsing and friends. His first victim, Lucy, is put to rest by Van Helsing while his second victim, Mina, survives after Dracula’s death. The tale is told through diary entries, letters, and telegraphs between the vampire hunters.
Interview with a Vampire: A reporter interviews a vampire and learns about a life that covers continents and spans lifetimes.
Twilight: A vampiric Romeo & Juliet that takes place in Washington State (mostly).
It took me much longer to get through Dracula than I had expected. I chalk this up to knowing how it ended, the format and pace of the book, as well as knowing many of the details that have become vampiric lore. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, just that I’m embarrassed at how long it took me – we’re talking months! I also enjoyed the format; an epistolary novel, it is told through the use of letters, notes, and diary type entries. This style of writing switches POV (point of view) often and makes it enjoyable, once you learn to pay attention to whom the entry belongs.
As mentioned, much of what we associate with vampires comes from Stoker. Which also makes it enjoyable. It’s an “ah ha!” type book. There’s lots of “so that’s where that lore comes from” moments. Think of it like a prequel to all other vampire books.
Interview with a Vampire:
This was a difficult read for me because it too has a unique-ish format; it’s only a few very long chapters. That made it difficult to put down, pick up, and put back down again. There weren’t great breaks and I often had to reread more than I would have liked to regroup and begin reading again. This rereading made it seem to drag for me, despite finishing it in a reasonable timeframe.
Even though I read it almost daily, I still had difficulty following it. Because it was an interview the chapters were long, drawn-out answers to questions. Imagine your favorite story-telling friend or relative relating a tale, that’s what it was like. Sometimes listening to that type of storytelling is easier than reading it. At least for me. As popular as this book is, I don’t necessarily think this is a drawback. Just not my easiest writing style to comprehend. You might find it flows beautifully. It’s all how our individual brains process written and spoken words.
Word of caution, while all these books are gruesome, this one was the most vivid and grotesque. It also had a young child vampire, who, like all vampires, never aged physically but did age emotionally and mentally. Which makes for a few awkward scenes that some may find disturbing beyond the implied gore of vampire life.
Also, I can see how this started a series. But it was a decent stand-alone as well.
On the other hand, Twilight was a quick read, but felt like it just kept going, and going, and going. We get it, she’s in love with him, he’s in love with her… I read this one super-fast but couldn’t wait for it to end.
Because I love a good human/vampire love story, I was hopeful; maybe this book would surprise me. It didn’t. Does that make it a bad book. No. I just wasn’t impressed. This human/vampire relationship felt a bit too codependent for me.
Also, I realize it’s a YA (young adult) novel, but it often came across as childish to me. I’m well past ever being mistaken for a young adult, so I tried to pass that off as my being out of touch. But there are plenty of YA novels out there that don’t read as childish and still maintain something that makes us older readers able to relate to the characters, something I felt this book lacked.
Would I re-read or recommend it?
Hmm… that depends.
If you love vampiric lore or want to read the one that started it all, Dracula is a must read. It’s a classic for a reason, and it was a reread for me, so yes, I guess I would read it again. 🙂
Ann Rice’s portrayal of vampiric life is interesting. She tackles the gruesomeness and loneliness of such a life. I wouldn’t reread Interview with a Vampire, but I’m glad I read it, and would recommend it to those who enjoy monsters and the macabre.
As for Twilight. Nope. I won’t reread it. Recommend? Who knows? That might depend on who is asking.
Curiously, I did notice something, a theme running through them; vampire evolution, so to speak. In Dracula, Dracula only comes out at night, the full moon is important, and he’s pale, almost luminous in candlelight. In Interview of a Vampire, vampires only come out at night and are so pale and luminous they appear to glow or glisten in candlelight, making them adverse to well-lit streets and rooms unless alone. Finally, in Twilight, we have glittering vampires able to be out during the day, as long as it’s cloudy. It’s the sunlight that makes them glitter. Hmm… pretty soon they’ll walk among us, regardless of time of day and undistinguishable from you and me.