Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm running out of blood... please. Stop sucking.

I've read a couple of vampire books in my lifetime (mostly Amelia Atwater-Rhodes) and have watched a couple of vampire movies/shows (Joss Whedon), but one thing I will never claim to be is a vampire lover. In fact, I am the exact opposite. I am a vampire hater and the time for my angry rant has come.

A couple of years ago, a shiny black book titled "Twilight" came out. It was placed everywhere in my local Borders. I picked up the hefty book, read the back summary and rolled my eyes. I could see how this might appeal to some readers, but to me, it seemed like such a silly waste of money (20 bucks? Are you kidding me?). I figured if I ever got bored on a weekend and this was at the library, I'd check it out. Maybe. Unlikely. Anyways, I put it out of my mind, until about a year-two years later when someone warmly recommended it. And then another. And then another. All these recommendations came from friendly teenage girls and right then and there I could see the problem.

Amazon is my first-and-foremost guide for book-buying. I often determine whether or not to buy a book based on the negative reviews there. If a book has senseless negative reviews that cannot explain their hatred, I give the book a point. If the negative reviews are balanced, well-thought and honest, I dock the book a point. "Twilight" got docked a bunch of points right off the bat. A number of reviewers explained reasonably their dislike of the book. So once again, I put "Twilight" out of my mind.

And then the sequel came out. And then another sequel. Suddenly, the world was overflowing with vampire-mania. Again. Not unlike the post Harry Potter fantasy craze, suddenly everyone was writing about vampires again. There have been at least 50 relatively high profile vampire book publications in the last few years (numerous other low-profile ones that I couldn't find, I'm assuming), not including the endless amounts of sequels that follow these books. And here's the part where the rant gets ugly: all these books are the same.

Oh-kay, so here and there the character names are obviously different, but I think people are trying to drive a super-dead horse. Like I said, I've read a couple of vampire books and they all feel exactly the same to me - sexy vamp, lustful affair, complicated drama, and the deliciousness of sweet blood. Even the lord of the vampires, the Dark Lord Dracula, is like that (by the way, that book may drag on for a looong time but it ultimately rocks... there's something delightfully creepy to it). Of course I'm generalizing. Sure, I know that some of these books are good and special because of characterization and writing as opposed to plot, but plot is important to a story. It seems to me like publishing the same book nine times is seriously a bit too much.

Normally I wouldn't care too much. Except then, skimming book forums, I keep finding questions like this (rephrasing, mix and match of a number of different quotes):
Where to go after Twilight??? Need good vamp lit, something to make me WANT to read loved twilight what other vampire series next?
I'm generally not a fan of people reading only one genre (you can focus on one, sure, but limiting yourself is dumb) and then to stumble upon questions like this, where the reader wants more of the same... It is frustrating to say the very least. Reading summaries of the books recommended or read make my head spin. How many times can someone read the same book with a slightly different packaging?

I keep getting recommendation e-mails for vampire books due to one simple reason. A few years ago I read the quite enjoyable "Sweetblood" by Pete Hautman. Because this book deals with the very vampire obsession I'm railing against, it's tagged as a vampire book. As a consequence of this quite indirect connection, I've had the opportunity to read scores of vampire book descriptions and summaries. So yes. I'm sick of it.

Some readers like reading books that make them feel all swoony and lovely inside. This means there's a market for these kinds of books. Now, because there's a market, more and more people try to jump onboard, until the market is flooded. As it is now. I expect the craze to end in the next few years, but am still, once again, baffled by this obsession. It's understandable that people might really like the "Twilight" series. People are entitled to like whatever they want. But how, someone has to explain to me, does this lead to people loving similarly-plotted books even if they, pardon the pun, suck.

I just noticed that Mr. Hautman seems to address my point exactly (thanks!):
...consumers will (eventually) experience decreased selection, as when the big publishers decide to publish only vampire novels and How To Find A Job books.
Good books are always welcome, but please stop writing the same book again and again. I'm out of blood.

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