I really deliberated over this rating. This is a Schindler's List story - in fact, even more bleak than Schindler's List - in that it is recognizablyI really deliberated over this rating. This is a Schindler's List story - in fact, even more bleak than Schindler's List - in that it is recognizably good writing but also so depressing that I never want to read it again. I thought the writing was good and it is also a page-turner - I flew through it. But I'm not certain I would recommend it.
Also, when I reviewed it in my blog and posted my review to my facebook page, I got a lot of varied responses from my friends, including someone who seemed basically angry at how depressing the story is. I think it's interesting whenever a book generates that kind of reaction. I have a hard time clearing the book from my head - which speaks to its effectiveness, but also serves as a reminder that I think there isn't much point in dwelling on the apocalypse. Which is why I generally don't read books that are this bleak.
Not perfect, and especially heavy handed with the scar theme - although the book still works in spite of that. Overall very enjoyable, and Mieville crNot perfect, and especially heavy handed with the scar theme - although the book still works in spite of that. Overall very enjoyable, and Mieville creates an environment that you can really believe in and get immersed in....more
Very good young adult series. This series functions as an anti-Narnia, which works for me because I dislike The Chronicles of Narnia. The final book iVery good young adult series. This series functions as an anti-Narnia, which works for me because I dislike The Chronicles of Narnia. The final book in the trilogy dragged a little, but other than that I found the series really entertaining, with extremely good writing. ...more
The thing about reading Dracula is that you know the story. Sort of. You have heard it told numerous times. So you know what will happen. No spoiler warnings needed, none necessary.
What you are left with is the opportunity to take in this story in its original form, without the lens of interpretation guiding the angle at which you view it.
The original is quite good.
Dracula is a basic monster story. In fact, Dracula is my favorite type of monster - the unstoppable evil. Dracula is old, smart, powerful, and endlessly resourceful. For much of the novel, it's not known that Lucy seems ill because she's been attacked by Dracula. The word "vampire" is not used until about half way through the novel. Our heroes are at a loss throughout much of the novel, with no sense of how to defeat this creature. Science has failed them. Logic has failed them. It is the very essence of horror.
Likewise, Dracula is not an emotional character with complex motivations for his behavior. He's just a monster, a creature with a survival instinct, and that is all. Because he victimizes humans, he must be slaughtered. It's refreshingly simple in the modern world of too many vampires with too much angst.
Of course, this simplicity is not free from flaws. In Bram Stoker's world, a vampire is a creature that has not died when it naturally should have. A human soul is trapped in it, so while killing the creature is necessary in order to stop it from killing, it's also a kindness to the human that once was because its soul is finally released. Conveniently, once a person is fully vampire that trapped soul has no influence over the person. This allows Lucy's fiance Arthur to kill her without hesitation. Once Lucy is a vampire she still remembers her life. She still knows enough to use Arthur's love for her in an attempt to take him as a victim. But any goodness she has is gone, and so Arthur can hammer a stake into her breast without shame, revulsion, or guilt - and he feels none of these, even though at the very least he's desecrated the creepy animated corpse of his love.
Likewise, when Mina is slowly transforming into a vampire, she specifically chooses her husband Jonathan as her slayer in the event that she can't be saved. Why? Because it's best if someone you love kills you, in Stoker's bizarre logic.
Reading this, it becomes clear how many others have read Dracula, and felt bothered by these same problems, and decided to give vampires consciences and choices rather than simply making them creatures who feed by instinct. It's also clear why vampire slayers were also created in time. Because really, wouldn't it be better if Van Helsing slayed all these vampires and spared those who loved Lucy and Mina the most?
Of course, all this killing of your own leads to another main theme of the novel, which is madness. The mystery of what is happening to Lucy, Jonathan's account of what happened to him in Dracula's castle, the bizarre shifts in weather and strange behavior of animals, all these elements combine to make all the protagonist feel their grip on sanity loosen, with the exception of the stalwart Van Helsing. Fittingly there is a lunatic asylum at the center of the swirling madness, with Renfield at the eye of the storm performing a function very similar to the fool in King Lear, speaking truths that no one heeds because of his station in life.
There are a few other minor flaws in the novel. Mostly it suffers from a long-windedness that I find difficult to get past in most Victorian stories. I'm particularly annoyed that whenever action is taken to fight Dracula, everything is done twice, like a little practice run is needed before we really get down to business. I think Stoker wrote in this way to make it seem more realistic, but it just slows down the story unnecessarily, and often makes the characters seem reluctant to act. Of course, this same devotion to realism is the reason why our heroes are keenly aware that their job involves a lot of breaking and entering, and also an act that any witnesses would call murder, and so they have the practical dilemma of taking precautions to avoid being arrested.
In this way Stoker avoids the wild suspension of disbelief that some horror stories completely depend upon. It is clear why Dracula is not only the archetypal vampire story, but also an archetypal horror story.
I'll be taking a little break for a while because of the demands of Christmas, and also to read Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman. I am inspired by this novel to watch several film translations of the story, and so next up, I'll be posting about those films and my thoughts on all of that. ...more
I have a review of this on my blog at 149 novels. It's not so much a review, as it is about my love for these novels in spite of how I feel a little uI have a review of this on my blog at 149 novels. It's not so much a review, as it is about my love for these novels in spite of how I feel a little unsettled with the author, my reaction to novels that preach at the reader vs. novels that simply tell a story, and my thoughts on drug use and creativity.
It's hard for me to review a beloved classic. It's sort of hard for me to review a book I love - I just love it, and because I'm pleased with that love, I feel no need to explain why. Maybe I'm blind to the magic tricks that writers use when they are done well. I feel much more defensive about books I don't like, and can easily point out the flaws to support my case....more
Circle of Blood is the best of the Kabuki graphic novel series. This book combines a modern day government vs. mafia story with the style of a kabukiCircle of Blood is the best of the Kabuki graphic novel series. This book combines a modern day government vs. mafia story with the style of a kabuki ghost story. A beautiful tale of revenge.
David Mack is both the writer and the artist, and is a master of both crafts....more
The Courtney Crumrin series is one of my current favorite comic book series. Ted Naifeh has created a little girl who lives partly in the normal worldThe Courtney Crumrin series is one of my current favorite comic book series. Ted Naifeh has created a little girl who lives partly in the normal world, and partly in the secretive world of wizards and witches, where she is learning to use the magical powers that she has inherited - sound familiar? Along the way she learns that magic can make your life much more difficult, that adults are untrustworthy and dangerous cowards, and that love just ends in pain - sounding a little less familiar?
Ted Naifeh writes and draws this series. He's also a snappy dresser and easy to talk to. I recommend all of them, but this book is my favorite in the series....more
Until I have time to review the entire set, I'm adding The Doll's House because it is my favorite in the Sandman series. There are many brilliant momeUntil I have time to review the entire set, I'm adding The Doll's House because it is my favorite in the Sandman series. There are many brilliant moments in the story; the older version of Little Red Riding Hood, for example, which first awakened me to the idea of what fairy tales were for, and why people told them to their children. The serial killers' convention is a stroke of genius. There are so many good things, so many reasons for people to overcome their disdain of comic books and read this one. The stories are so simple and human, but they are also big and mythic.
Watchmen is the smartest, most well-written comic book I've ever read. But Sandman remains my favorite, because of its ability to capture my imagination....more