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The vampire world differs greatly from story to story.

The vampire world differs greatly from story to story.

Most of my spare time (and really time I didn’t even have to spare as well) these past 3 weeks I have spent exploring my inner vampire fangirl.  As ya’ll know, I fell for the Twilight series despite its many flaws due to my love of one Edward Cullen.  That love has not abated in the 6 months since I began Twilight.  Then I got to remembering my love for Angel and Spike in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and I started wondering if maybe I have a vamp thing going on?  I don’t think I want to start hanging out in alleys at night hoping that a vampire will happen upon me, but I admit that the creatures of the night (or in some cases day) intrigue me.  So I decided to read a couple more popular vampire series to see if they had the same effect on me.  I’m proud to say that while I find a few of the vampires in these series intriguing, I appear to be a one vamp girl!  But while reading, and greatly enjoying, two other series I caught a lot of interesting themes that were prevalent in all of them as well as a lot of differences and thought I’d talk about them a little bit.  It’s really fascinating to me and I hope it will be to you as well.

The three series I am comparing are of course Twilight, The House of Night books by PC & Kristen Cast & The Sookie Stackhouse Novels (the series that True Blood is based upon) by Charlaine Harris.  I’ll start out with the main similar themes and then discuss the very different worlds the authors have created.

The Virgin

All 3 novels have sexually inexperienced girls or women.  Zoey Redbird (House of Night) and Bella Swan are both fairly young, 16 and 17 respectively, so no surprise there, but Sookie Stackhouse is 25 or 26 when the series begins.  There are reasons for her virginity that I’ll get into shortly, but she is just as inexperienced as the younger two, maybe even more so than Zoey who at least had a steady boyfriend in high school and has clearly done some physical stuff.  All 3 lose their virginity in the books and all 3 lose said virginity to a vampire.

I flash back to the Scream movies to the virgin never dies discussion with Jamie Kennedy and Neve Campbell’s characters and have to laugh a little.  These virgins don’t die either but they sure have death all around them.  Many a horror movie has mentioned the whole virgin thing so it’s not a surprise the writers all chose to make their heroines innocent.  The contrast between their “light” and the vampires “dark” just stands out all the more.

Girls With Powers

Another major likeness between the 3 series is the fact that all the women have something extraordinary about them.  Bella has her shielding power to block Edward from reading her mind and Jane and Alec from tormenting her physically; Zoey Redbird has the ability to call the elements and has been tagged by the vampire goddess Nyx as a future high priestess; and Sookie can read minds (I was floored when I saw this was written before Twilight) of all humans and pick up some thoughts from werewolves and shapeshifters, but is unable to read vampire minds.  I guess in order to garner and keep the attention of vampire there has to be something fascinating about you, and all three of these women have that in spades.

Everyone Loves The Girl

Okay, so I am generalizing a bit here but one of the heavy Twilight complaints I saw was that Bella had all these guys falling for her without lifting a finger.  I understand the irritation with that somewhat, although I would argue the human boys mostly just liked her because she was someone new in a small town.  I have been the new kid many times in my youth and I can say that you do garner some attention just because you’re different.  It doesn’t tend to last long, but it does happen.

If that bothered anybody reading this, I would highly recommend NOT reading these other series because it’s even more prevalent.  Sookie has 2 vampires, a weretiger, a werewolf and a shapeshifter all sniffing around her in 8 books so far.  Every time a new male character gets introduced I cringe wondering if they’ll be yet another potential love interest.  Zoey has her human boyfriend, her fellow vampire fledgling, a vampire teacher, a red vampire and some kind of demon god all wanting her, through 5 books.  It all ties back into their looks and their abilities, of course, but it can be a bit offputting.  I’m able to swallow it because I like most of the characters involved.

The thing I found most interesting was my reaction to these suitors differs very greatly.  In Twilight, I’m all about Edward.  Jacob need not exist in my book, but whatever.  Never before and never again probably have I ever rooted so heartily for a fictional couple.  But in these other two?  I can see why Zoey would be interested in Heath and Erik and Lauren and even Stark.  Kolona not so much but I understand his draw.  It’s very weird not to have a rooting interest but I think it makes me much more sane.  I did whip through the House of Night books with about the same pacing as I did Twilight though, read one each day.

In Sookie’s case, it’s the exact opposite for me.  I do have rooting interest even though I think I’m probably rooting for the guy that I’m not supposed to.  But I see the flaws with every guy she’s into and I really don’t think any of them are necessarily good choices for her.  Bill was her first love but he turned out to be a liar and a user.  The fact that he’s sorry for this and he loves her still doesn’t move me at all because I never liked him even before I knew he had betrayed her.  He was just so secretive and standoffish in my viewpoint.  Eric, on the other hand, is the vamp I would so love to take a bite out of.  Or vice versa!  He’s far more intimidating and far more dangerous but he’s also tons more complex and interesting to me.  The thing that really sets him apart for me is the fact that he’s very truthful with Sookie, even when he knows what he has to tell her is going to hurt her.  It’s a refreshing difference from my overprotective Edward, who I do love but he could have been more forthcoming about things instead of trying to take care of them himself.  Eric does not have as good a grip on his emotions, I’m quite sure he loves Sookie and I think he knows it but doesn’t feel comfortable saying it.  Still, there’s a heat and a draw between them that is palpable, especially since both have had one another’s blood.  More on that later!

Family Issues

I could have titled this section Mother Issues, since the strongest issues do seem to have been between mother/daughter.  What’s amusing is that we barely know any of the mothers in the series, in fact, Sookie’s died when she was seven but I think her nonaction played a major part in who her daughter became today.  Anybody who has read one of my Twilight blogs might have noticed that I greatly dislike Bella’s mom, Renee.  Any mother who is going to choose a man over her own daughter just sucks in my book, whether or not said daughter still considers her her best friend.  She’s supposed to be your mother, not your best friend, and choosing to wallow because her new husband travels a lot, to the point that you drive your daughter to move to a new state so you can be happy, well that just sets me off.  And eerily enough, Renee is the best mother of the bunch!

Zoey’s mother has the Renee thing going on in spades.  She remarried 3 years prior to the novels starting and basically became her husband’s little parrot.  What he believes, she believes.  He’s a religious nut, she’s now a religious nut.  All vampires are evil so Zoey, who has been chosen to become one, is evil.  Best to let her die rather than let her become a vamp.  Buy her a bible for her 17th birthday to show that she’s evil and needs to turn away from Nyx and embrace their way of thinking.  Yep, that woman is a real prize.

Sookie’s mother takes the cake though, and we get very little about the woman.  It turns out that Sookie was molested by her uncle from about 5 to 7 and when she told her mother, she refused to believe her and told her she had a terrible imagination.  She didn’t even try to keep the guy away from her either.  Sookie later finds out that through her father she has fairy blood and it turns out that said blood makes the people around you more apt to be fascinated by you (hence I guess all the supernatural creatures being drawn to her).  So her father was the center of her mother’s world despite their two young children and she really had no time or interest in her kids.  Fun.  I’m not sorry she died when Sookie was 7 and I’m glad that her grandmother raised her and believed her about the uncle.

In HON & SSN, biting equals sexy!

In HON & SSN, biting equals sexy!

Differences

I think those were the main common themes I wanted to discuss, so now I’ll talk a little about the different worlds and lore that the writers have created.  Again, I’ll briefly compare with Twilight but I don’t feel the need to outline all of that with you guys, been there and done that.  While the vamps in Twilight can come out on nonsunny days, these vampires prefer the night, HONs won’t die right away but it does hurt them and it will kill the vamps in Sookie’s books.  There are plenty of other smaller vamp lores to address but maybe I’ll do that in another blog.

One big commonality between the House of Night & Sookie novels is the concept of the vampires living openly among us.  While they were in Twilight, they had to keep their identities hidden.  Not so in these other series.  House of Night is a school where selected fledglings go to learn how to become a vampire.  Over a 3 year time period, they will either become a full blooded vampire (The Change) or they will die.  There’s no rhyme or reason to who becomes a vamp and who dies, at least not that I’ve yet learned.  But the vamps are distinguishable by a marking on their foreheads.  When you’re chosen, a tracker vamp finds you and aims something at you and you get a mark on your head.  You have a day or two to report to a House of Night school or you die.  The vampires are known to the public via their markings and it seems that all our famous actors and actresses are vamps, the beautiful people you know.

In the Sookie novels, the vampires came out of the closet 6 years before the novels started when a Japanese company was able to make substitute blood that they could consist on.  They no longer had to hide and hunt humans so they declared themselves to exist publicly.  That’s not to say that they don’t face some adversity and discrimination, both books have human elements that are against the vampires and attacking them in stealthy ways.  But there are also all sorts of humans lined up to have their blood sucked by a vamp and unlike in Twilight, it’s not a killing thing.  All vamps seem to have the ability to take what they want and leave the person alive and well.  And…horny.

All the novels embrace the possibility of vampire love, albeit with different results.

All the novels embrace the possibility of vampire love, albeit with different results.

Yep, both series portray the blood drinking as something very sexual in nature.  The vamps in the Sookie books often bite a little as they have sex.  In turn, if a human drinks vamp blood it acts like a drug and a healing element.  Sookie drinks blood from Bill once or twice and Eric three times and her tie to Eric is deep and abiding as a result.  They can actually sense one another’s emotions.

Similarly, in House of Night, when a vampire feeds on a human or another vamp they can form an imprint with one another.  Yes, there’s that imprint word, only this time it’s not wolves and their mates.  Zoey imprints with Heath and they can actually communicate with one another somewhat and definitely feel what one another feels.  And the actual act of drinking the blood turns out to be a major turn on when it’s guy/girl involved.  Two girls imprint in the HON novels but that one is not sexual in nature, however they are tied and can feel one another’s feelings as well.  It’s really quite fascinating and when reading them I was rather sorry that this did not happen with Edward and Bella in any way.  A friend had mentioned that she would have loved it in New Moon if Edward had known Bella was in danger by a tie with her thoughts, which could have been achieved via an imprint like in these other books.  Ah well!

The House of Night novels not only explore vampirism but they also explore witchcraft and Native American spirituality (which makes me think of the wolves in Twilight, for that matter).  While Zoey is a vampire fledgling, her mark is filled in like that of a regular vampire because Nyx has chosen her as a future High Priestess.  She appears to Zoey in her dream and helps her throughout the novels.  Zoey is able to call the 4 elements plus spirit, a staple of any witchcraft I’ve seen.  Zoey’s grandmother is a native American and she uses chanting and magics as well.  It’s a very interesting diversion from your regular vampires to be sure.  While I’m used to vampires having more skills, it’s quite different to have them using magic.  I have yet to read the Harry Potter novels (and yes, they are on the way!!!) I think this book series ties in somewhat, in the whole school and magic factor.

While the Sookie books do not have magic as done by vamps, they do have magic done by witches and fairies.  Yep, you have a little bit of everything in these books.  Weres don’t just have to be wolves, there are werepanthers and werefoxes and weretigers.  Not to mention shapeshifters that can be anything.  And maenads.  The vampires do not have a school but they do have a governmental system that remains unknown to humans.  There are kings and queens of the state and their sheriffs (Eric is one) control various areas within.  They have meetings and conferences.  I tend to think if Stephenie Meyer had explored the Volturi more, they would stand as a kind of governmental body that might be somewhat similar, although they were all clustered together.

Angel & Spike were my original sexy vamps.

Angel & Spike were my original sexy vamps.

Well this blog has gotten really long and I could probably keep talking for another 2500 words, but maybe I’ll just wait on that for now.  All three worlds fascinate and appeal to me for very different reasons and I wanted to share a little with you.  Hopefully those of you that haven’t read one or both of the other series will check them out and come back and discuss them with me.  I’ve already got one friend hitting the HON as I type, and another friend reading SSN, so I’m pretty excited.  HON is actually written, like Twilight, for the teen audience, so it’s very easy to read and quite enjoyable.  Sookie is more for adults but again, easy read, 300 page books, I was done in a day.  Sometimes with two books in a day.  The new Sookie comes out today and I’ve had to restrain myself from running out to buy it right now.  I have to actually do some work sometime, after all.  I’m not as addicted as I was to Twilight but I certainly enjoy the stories just as much.  Hopefully you guys will check them out if you haven’t already and if you have, please drop me a line and let me know what you thought.  I know there are other series out there to explore and I’m definitely considering doing that after my Harry Potter adventure.   More sexy vampires can only be a good thing, right?

All photos from photobucket.com keyword vampires

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