Saturday, August 15, 2009

Too much vampire bizness, reading late at night

So I am still on vacation, but we leave tomorrow for Portland. I finished Fangland this week and wish I could have brought the other vampire book I am reading, the Strain, along as well. That one was too heavy for the travels and I dislike travelling with library books anyway. These two very different books once again illustrate all that can be done with the vampire story.

The Strain, which I haven't finished, is a tale of Vampire Apocalypse. In the book, vampires are a disease and a weapon that threatens to overwhelm the world. The pacing is rapid and the feel is cinematic. Characters, such as they are, serve mostly to create tension and to allow the plot to move forward. One thing to note is, at 80% through, this book is part of one of those trilogies which is really one novel cut into three parts. Nothing wrong with this, but you can expect to be left hanging, or desperately wanting more.

Fangland is an updated version of Stoker's book complete with a victim/avenger character named Harker, Evangeline in this case. Evageline is a producer for a 60 Minutes like newsprogram. She heads off to Romania to interview a crime figure who turns out to be something far worse than a gangster. Later, said criminal begins to infiltrate the offices of the newsprogram.

This book takes the metaphorical/symbological approach with the battle of vampire vs. human serving as the philosophical battle between those fixated on the wrongs of the past and those who want to move ahead. Sex, frequently a subtext in vampire books, is front and center in this one, but in a morally ambiguous sense. Harker herself is burdened by sin, but is in the end redeemed. You can read this one as an allegory about life in the media or as the triumph of life over death. Either way, it's good.

I think the vampire story is so flexible because each author can pick their mix of sex and violence. The form allows for, and maybe even demands, both, but the authors can make one or the other dominate. In the case of the Strain, it is nearly all violence, with a sense of sexuality driving the villain. Other vampire novels have highlighted the murky line between sex and violence, but Fangland is interesting because it sets sex and violence in direct opposition.


kwandongbrian said...

Have you tried "Twilight"? I am currently working at a small school in Korea that has Twilight in English in the library, so I have dug in. I haven't gotten too far yet but perhaps you should have a look, you know, just for the sake of completeness.

Mon Desiderio said...

You may also want to try non fiction vampire books, they're interesting reads as well.

It may change your perspective and might be subject for comparison... at the same you'd be able to discover greeaat things about vampires beyond fiction and lore :)

Tripp said...


Ah, Twilight, no I haven't, but I suppose I should, if only to have a sense of the phenomenon. I suspect my daughter will read them in a few years. And completeness of course.


I read a fun book on vampire lore some months back. A bit tongue in cheek, but I am always happy to read more. Any suggestions?