Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vampires and More Vampires

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer has made its two-fanged mark. You know that is the case because now there is an interesting reply to that oh-so-successful series in the form of The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks.

I read and enjoyed the history in The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The vampire books of Anne Rice intrigued me until I decided that I really needed to get on with my life. It only took one of Twilight books for me to decide to move on. They are compelling reads, but I am not that big a fan of rippling muscles and golden tans.

So I was interested but not overly optimistic when I ran across the bleak gray cover of The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It is not great literature. (I doubt that there is much great vampire literature beyond Dracula.) It is, however, a real hoot. It is clearly tongue in cheek but is also full of real excitement for the middle school to adult reader. Nina, the narrator, writes Twilight style vampire books to support herself and buy her breakfast guinea pigs. Here, however, she describes the real life of vampires. It does not sound pleasant--the nausea, listlessness, the daylight hours spent quite literally dead to the world, and the urges to "fang" someone that must be suppressed whenever there is the whiff of even one drop of human blood. Nina and a motley crew of vampires in Sydney, Australia, meet weekly with a mortal priest to keep from "infecting" others to with their "disease". Then one of their fold, the man who infected Nina, is found dead in his coffin. Fearing for themselves, they set off on an adventure to find who has been ordering and using silver bullets. There is even a little bit of a love story here.

As a school librarian, there were a few times when I wish the language had not been so realistic so I could recommend this grand adventure to upper elementary readers and my more innocent middle school kids, but as a reader, I lapped it up like fresh blood. Read it to learn the ugly truth about life as a vampire. At the end you may find yourself seeing vampirism as another disability which makes life harder but does not make the sufferer any less human. See--it even has a good moral.

Warning: This book contains lots of blood and nausea and the death of innocent guinea pigs.

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