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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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Now that several friends have finally finished Breaking Dawn, I felt it was time that I finally do a blog on the book.  Easily the most criticized and reviled book in the Twilight Series, it’s the one that I also had the most problems with.  I didn’t hate it like some did but I did have my share of issues so I thought I’d talk about them here.  What it all boiled down to for me was sacrifice.  This is the book where Bella was going to have to give up her old life and step into her new, but Meyer took it easy on her and made her give up nothing at all.  This bothered me greatly as I was very excited to see Bella deal with the consequences of becoming a vampire.

Before I get too heavily into that, I’ll talk about what I did like, for there was plenty that made me happy.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending and I swore I wasn’t going to even read the book if Bella and Edward did not end up together forever.  Once I was reassured of that, I did read it and was happy to experience their wedding, their honeymoon, her awakening as a vampire, her finding her strength and saving the others with it and particularly that final scene in the book where Edward gets to hear her thoughts for the first time.  I thought that was a beautiful ending to the series and a great circle around from the first time he saw her and got intrigued because he couldn’t hear her thoughts at all.

Of course, the big issue a lot of people had with the book was the Renesmee end of things, Edward being able to have a child with Bella despite being a vampire.  This didn’t bug me that much because it’s Meyer’s world and she’s created her own vampire cannon so I can respect that choice.  I wasn’t in love with the baby angle but I understood it and found parts of it interesting.  Using her to bring the Volturi down upon them was a good choice I think, so I didn’t take as much issue with Renesmee as others did.  Had I been writing it I wouldn’t have created her, but I can deal with her.

I have some Jacob related nitpicks, of course, because Jacob is not my favorite character by book four, although he takes some redemptive steps of course in the name of love and friendship.  I didn’t like having him come to her wedding and freak out on her at all, I’d rather he stay away than cast any kind of pall on that moment but that’s the Edward/Bella fan in me speaking and I can see why Meyer did that.  I didn’t care for the huge chunk of book written in his viewpoint either, although I understood Meyer wanting to tell the story from some different eyes.  Outsider eyes.  That again is the Edward lover in me speaking, I’d rather have heard it from his viewpoint since Midnight Sun is my favorite of the books, unfinished though it might be.

Then there’s the whole imprinting thing.  Look, I am glad that Jacob backed off Bella and I’m glad that he got to find some happiness.  I may not have liked him but I didn’t wish him a life of loneliness and misery either.  But to have him imprint on Bella’s daughter?  Put the baby thing aside, cause some of the other wolves imprinted on little ones as well, but Bella’s daughter?  The woman that he was so in love with?  That’s pretty gross when you think about it.  He remembers all the fantasies he had of seeing her naked and now he’s destined for her daughter?  What kind of sick soap opera stuff is this? 

I get why Meyer did it and I honestly think it was in direct reaction to the outrage that came out of her having Bella admit to being in love with Jacob in Eclipse.  I thought that was a gigantic miscalculation and I think she must have too, because I can’t imagine doing that on purpose and then creating Bella’s daughter for Jacob.  I personally felt that she found a loophole in creating this kid that maybe could account for Bella’s love for Jacob, this feeling that they were destined to be together in some way.  I  believe that in a world in which Edward did not exist perhaps Bella could eventually have come to love Jacob but I don’t believe that she could in world in which he did.  That’s my personal bias and I’m holding on to it!

My other issue, besides the big one, is the showdown with the Volturi.  I was thrilled to see Jane and Caius and Aro and co again but I was deeply disheartened by the lack of battle.  I’m glad the Cullens and the wolves and pals ended up safe but it would have been nice to have a little action in the fight.  I’m not asking for piles of burning vamps but I wanted to see Jane and Caius get killed dammit.  And I would have sacrificed some of the protagonists to see that happen.  I mean, not my faves of course, but Rosalie could have died and I would have been alright with it.  Maybe a wolf or two as long as Seth made it.  Yeah, I’m qualifying, I know that, it’s just that for all the showdowns that are discussed, the only one that ends up with any action is in Eclipse.  We could have used a bit more battle, that’s all I’m saying. 

Now it’s time for me to get into my real issue with the novel that I touched upon in my first paragraph.  Before I get too into it, I will admit that I know these books were initially written with a teen audience in mind, but I like to think our youth can and do like to look deeper into books and don’t need everything to be happy in order to find a book compelling.   We read Hemingway and Chaucer and Shakespeare and all that when we’re teens, so I don’t see why teens of today couldn’t deal with a little darkness in their books.

Meyer’s first big wrong was taking the choice away from Edward in whether or not to turn Bella into a vampire.  She had him agonized over that idea through 3 books but in the end he had to do it because she was going to die anyway.  I had to suffer through a lot of Bella angst in New Moon with Edward gone and I would have enjoyed more Edward angst in this one over turning her.  We had a lot of tortured Edward through her 2 week pregnancy but that was seen through Jacob’s eyes and wasn’t enough for me.  I guess I just wanted him to turn her because he wanted her forever and she had made that choice and he respected it, not because he had to.  Does that make sense?

After Bella was turned, life for her was even better than she’d dreamed it would be.  She got the vampire powers, her own special power and her daughter and Edward.  I was good with those things but not with the rest that came along with it.  She should have had to give up something in becoming a vampire but she didn’t.  She got to keep Jacob as a best friend and minus the romantic issues; she got to keep her father in her life; she was able to control herself nearly immediately and never had to deal with killing a human; the sex was even better for her and Edward after she turned and her love for him was stronger instead of overcome by blood lust and her daughter was going to grow up and live forever as well.  One could argue perhaps that she had to give up her mother but I don’t consider that whatsoever because I felt her mother gave her up long before she came to forks when she chose the husband over her daughter. 

I’m all for happy endings but I would argue that if this book really was intended for teens then there should have been some consequences to Bella’s choice.  Shouldn’t teens and tweens learn that sometimes sacrifices have to be made when you make a heavy decision and that you should weigh everything carefully?  By not having Bella have to give up anything, I honestly feel the wrong message is sent.  

How powerful would it have been to have her go to Charlie’s house shortly after being turned and watch him from afar, wishing she could go to him but knowing that she couldn’t?  Having to raise her daughter without her grandfather and just telling her stories about him instead?  Having Jacob become her enemy instead of staying her best friend, maybe not even her enemy but just someone not in her life anymore.  How powerful would it be down the road if she ran across him on a hunt or something?  Or if years down the road, still 18, Bella saw an adult Jacob with a family of his own?  She wouldn’t have to regret the choice she made but she could mourn for the choices she didn’t and the things she lost.  It just would have been better that way, at least for me.

I, as usual, have gotten very long winded but when you’re talking about a long story I guess it makes sense to have a lot to say.  I want to make clear that I didn’t hate Breaking Dawn at all and in subsequent readings I’ve grown to like it more than I did the first time around.  I’m happy that the characters found happiness and despite the weirdness of Jacob/Renesmee I wouldn’t mind a book about them down the road either although I liked the idea of Jacob/Leah hooking up; going from antagonism to friendship to love and bucking the whole imprinting thing, but that’s another blog for another day perhaps.  Breaking Dawn just left me wish some dissatisfaction and a longing for something more in a way that the rest of the Twilight Saga did not.  I’m sure part of that was knowing it was the last book in the series but the rest I’ve outlined for you above.  Despite that, I still love the Cullens and I’m glad they got their happily ever after.  I hope one day Meyer will delve back into them, finishing Midnight Sun and perhaps writing the others from Edward’s viewpoint.  Or telling us more about Jasper & Alice, my other faves.  There is much she could do and I am still not ready to let go.  The beauty of books is that I can revisit them anytime.  I’ve managed to not read a Twilight book for about 2 months now but that doesn’t mean I’ve put it aside.   Clearly I haven’t because here I am writing about them 4 months after my initial descent into the Twilight world.  Despite some missteps, that’s the thing Meyer really got right, she created a world I don’t want to escape from.

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