As anyone who knows about the saga of the multiplying Draculas knows, I do love me a good vampire story. In celebration of birthday month, I have contemplated availing myself of a copy of Many Bloody Returns, a collection of short stories about birthdays and the undead. Advancing on an age that would make me want to start counting backwards if I truly cared about that sort of thing, immortal youth just feels right. But first, there is the matter of finishing my current reading material - Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga.
The Twilight books are something I had actually avoided reading. In keeping with not liking it when (most) people try to tell me what to do, I find myself avoiding things that are too popular. Band wagons give me hives and "popular" doesn't necessarily mean well written. But then came February. February had me coughing like Camille on her deathbed. It wasn't really a good time to take sick leave at work, which left me even more tired. This called for something light and fun but non-taxing in my free time, and reading something like Twilight definitely fit the bill.
There is a lot about the series to recommend itself. The books are huge, but read fast in the way of escapist novels that suck you in even though your intellectual brain sheepishly thinks they probably shouldn't. There are a few cheesy aspects and there is the annoying addition in the 4th book of a precocious human-vampire hybrid love child - Renesmee (a combination of the names "Renee" and "Esme"that strikes me as more tedious than clever), but over all the books are fun. There is danger, romance, occasional international travel, and a host of requisite bad guy(s) to thwart. The drive to know what happens next has helped me plow through the first 664 pages of the final installment in about a week, and it's not like I've devoted all my free time to reading.
In many ways, the formula of the novels reminds me of Buffy with a little of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse thrown in. And it is formulaic (young, awkward, misfit who is not too misfitty but doesn't realize how pretty and fab she is moves to small town; finds brooding hottie soul mate who just happens to be a vampire but a good, vampire; heroine discovers she has hidden gifts of her own; otherworldy hijinx ensue and good triumphs over evil), but in the way of the Joss Whedon and Charlaine Harris worlds, it also sports plotlines that lend themselves to staving off the very human humdrum complaints of everyday life while at the same time exploring them (love, heartbreak, loyalty, conflict, responsiblity, growing up and leaving home) in mythological terms.
It is all very good versus evil with notions of what constitutes each turned on their heads. Bad things happen despite the best of intentions, (some) vampires are good and ethical, and werewolves protect people. Both groups have evolved societies with their own codes of ethics. And while that's all been done before, the notion of grey in matters of good and evil, right and wrong in a post-Bush cosmology is a welcome one (especially when it comes packaged in such a light, easly to read package).