Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse: Now Those are REAL Vampires...

This week is going fast. I rarely say that but, for once, it's true. Maybe it's because I bought a house, maybe it's because it's busy at work suddenly but...whatever it is, it's already Wednesday and the week is almost half over.

Sometimes it seems like the week is going too fast, like I get home from work, work out, make dinner and it's almost time for bed. Of course, that may be because I'm having fun reading at the moment and I love to go to bed early and read until I'm ready for sleep. I think I mentioned that I'm working my way through the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series at the moment. I'm on book five already. They're so easy and fun to read, I'm having to pace myself. I feel like, suddenly, it's ok to like vampires again.

I've always liked vampires. I used to read this series when I was young called "The Little Vampire" by Angela Somer-Bodenburg. They were about a vampire child named Rudolph who was too young to drink human blood but was from a family of ancient vampires. He introduces his family to Tony, his new human friend and, naturally, adventures ensue. After that series came Dracula, naturally and then Anne Rice. I loved the first four books in the Vampire Chronicles. I read the ones that she wrote after those and with each one, the mysterious, romantic and erotic world she created began to suddenly be beyond ridiculous. Lestat lost his sexy bad-boy appeal and became almost as whiny as Louis, the narrator of Interview with a Vampire.

Then I stopped reading vampire books for a while. There was plenty of other fiction out there. Sure, I read Salem's Lot, Stephen King's rather creepy foray in the vampire genre. I played vampire video games with my brother, Dracula Unleashed being our favourite. Yet I stopped searching for vampire fiction.

Then, of course, came Twilight and it's subsequently and increasingly awful sequels. While I've blogged about the fact that, if I'd been a sixteen year old girl, I'd have probably liked the novels more, I'm not a sixteen year-old and thus I think the novels are pretty awful. I've blogged about the books already and why I think they're awful so I won't go into that again. Yet, I can safely say, now I'm reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, I can point my finger at Stephanie Meyer and say, "Lady, did you think of ANYTHING original?"

Sookie's been around a fair bit longer than Bella, the whinier, more helpless heroine of the Twilight series. She's a telepath whereas in Twilight, Edward Cullen is the telepath. Sookie doesn't have many friends because people are freaked out by her mind-reading ability. Bella doesn't have many friends because she's annoying and whiny and falls in love with a vampire because there's not much else to do in rainy Forks. Sookie's boss and sometimes-crush is her boss, Sam who happens to be a shapeshifter and proves himself a loyal friend to Sookie. Bella's friend, Jacob, is a loyal friend to Bella and also happens to be a werewolf. That is, to say, in the first three books, he's a werewolf. In Breaking Dawn, Stephanie Meyer decides he and his co-werewolves are now shapeshifters because, well, why not arbitrarily change a character at the last minute?

I could continue on. There are more than a few more similarities between the books. In the very first book of the Sookie series, Dead Until Dark, Sookie describes how the vampires skin seems to glow, how the vampires are all beautiful. It turns out that it makes it much easier to get human prey that way. Interestingly enough, in Twilight, the vampires are described as having glowy skin and are stunningly beautiful because, you know, it makes it easier to get prey that way. I'll give Meijer kudos for getting around that pesky traditional " the sun kills vampires" lore; in her books, the sun makes the vampires sparkle "like they've been dusted with diamonds" and that's why they have to stay out of it because otherwise humans would realize they were vampires.

I know that, really, much of Charlaine Harris' vampire/supernatural creature lore is not original. Vampires are cold because..they're dead. Werewolves run hotter than humans because...they're part wolf and plenty more. Yet Harris presents it in such a fun, matter-of-fact way that you can almost believe there are vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves and fairies hiding in the moss-dripping trees of the Louisiana Bayou.

The other thing about her books is that...they're sexy. I'm not faulting Stephanie Meyer for the fact that her books are rated PG that even the pillow-tearing, headboard-breaking 'sex scene' has all the sensuality of a Victorian teaparty. It's nice that she can give our over-sexed teenagers something to obsess over that isn't about sex but is about love.

Yet, I'm not a teenager and I quite like reading a good sex-scene and, let me tell you, Charlaine Harris is the queen of the good sex-scenes. I never much cared for Bill, Sookie's vampire boyfriend, because I thought him a wee bit drippy yet in bed, I quite liked Bill. Of course, then there's Eric. I had to turn the air conditioning on when I got to book four because, let me tell you, it might not be literature but it is fun. And really,

I realize my mother reads my blog. Fortunately, my mother doesn't seem to get shocked when I bring up sex as I do every so often. So I don't think she's going to say, "Captain Monkeypants, I raised you better than that!" Also, she and my dad watch True Blood, the HBO adaptation of the novels so she knows what they're about. I'm going to loan them to her, in fact.

So, anyway, I guess the purpose of today's blog is to recommend the Sookie books if you're into fun reads. I have to give credit to two friends (and loyal blog readers) who recommended I read them. You know who you are...and I thank you both, Mrs. Future Texan and Mrs. Likes-Twilight-a-Little-Too-Much-But-You're-Completely-Forgiven-For-Sending-Me-Your-Sookie-Stackhouse-Books.

Granted, the books aren't at the level of, say, Jane Austen but even she has been adapted to fit the modern world with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Is it too hard to imagine Mansfield Park Full of Vampires or Sense and Sensibility And Fangs? I, personally, don't think so. Also, I think that would be intriguing. Probably horribly wrong...but intriguing.

Happy Wednesday.

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