The Vampire Chronicles Revisited

A discussion with a friend of mine this past weekend led me (read: shamed me) into returning to my favorite set of novels. This friend read the books at approximately the same time and at the same age as I did, and yet can recall an incredible number of details that I had all but forgotten.

So I am going to re-read all of the Vampire Chronicles, in order, hopefully over the course of the next year. I will make a separate post for each book, and in the meantime will continue reading and posting about other material.

My first time through the Vampire Chronicles, ten years ago, was about experiencing the story and transforming my mindset. I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school, impressionable and clueless as to who I was or who I wanted to be. These books were my personal catalyst into a new perspective on the world, a perspective that has continued to shift throughout the past 10 years.

The second time through I am going much deeper. This time around is about studying the story, the prose, the symbolism, and the author as she reveals herself through her characters.

And so I embark on a journey to revisit my favorite books, my favorite characters,  and my favorite writer. Whether you’ve never read a word by Anne Rice or have devoured all of her work as I have, I hope you take the time to enjoy my ruminations on the Vampire Chronicles.

Stay alert for my first VC post on Interview with the Vampire.

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A New Dystopia

1984Brave New WorldThe Hunger Games…do we really need another dystopian novel?

I, for one, believe there is so much flexibility in the theme that it needn’t get old. I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve read, even those intended for young adults. The Hunger Games was a compelling series, though obviously not unique.

That’s where Wool (by Hugh Howey) excels, in my opinion. The story of a society living underground in a giant silo, their only view of the outside world being by a giant television screen that projects the image of a bleak, devastated landscape filled with toxic fumes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the premise seems almost wholly original.

That being said, the originality of the book is about all it has going for it. The prose is only average and the characters are two-dimensional. The good guys are obviously good and the villains quite obviously evil. Howey makes a half-hearted attempt at creating compelling back stories for his characters, but fails at making an emotional connection between them and the reader. At least in The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was able to make the reader feel something for the characters, whether it be empathy or contempt. What strikes me most about Howey’s characters is how little I feel for any of them.

The prose of the book is…flat, really. That’s not to say it’s bad, just not anything remarkable. I also can’t decide who Howey’s target audience is supposed to be. I’m going to go with young adults based on the simplicity of the writing.

I’ll mostly likely read the other two books in the series. Like I said earlier, the premise is original, and the books are not difficult to read.

If you haven’t read many novels about dystopian societies, these are what I recommend most:

1984 by George Orwell

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

See more from GoodReads…

The Devolution of Mankind

I’m always thoroughly impressed by an author who is able to do something completely unique with their writing, to create a new theme (or at least a new way of developing that theme) that no one has ventured into before.

Benjamin Hale was able to do this with his novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. The story is narrated by an exceptionally intelligent chimp who has managed to overcome the physical obstacles to learning human language. I won’t pretend to that I completely understand or agree with every point Hale tried to make, but I did find the book more profound than many I’ve read recently. The narrator, Bruno the chimp, is highly critical of the human species, denigrating it for its pomposity, arrogance, and condescension toward any other species. Through the series of events in Bruno’s life, he shows us that no matter how “cultured” or “refined” we may think ourselves, in fact we are hardly more than apes and will always be at risk of unintentionally revealing the more primitive and bestial sides of ourselves.

Besides the unique content of the novel, I was very impressed with the quality of the prose. Honestly, it’s the prose of a book that keeps me reading. A book may have the most unique and interesting topic, but if the prose is terrible, I cannot continue with reading it.

I wonder why no one ever talks about this book or its author. If such a brilliant mind can remain unknown despite being published, how many other brilliant minds are out there that we don’t know about? Maybe the greatest philosophers were never known because they never wrote anything down. Those who did write have inspired countless others, but maybe that number would be 3x larger if more people chose to write their impressions of the world and the questions that occur to them from day to day.

So write down the ramblings of your mind, people. Maybe one day you’ll be considered the greatest philosopher of 2013.