Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Prince Lestat

Anne Rice did so much more than introduce me to the world of the Vampire Chronicles. At the young age of thirteen, I discovered Interview with the Vampire at my school library. I devoured the book in a day and didn't turn back, each book following that first one I read quickly and obsessively. I was fascinated by the articulate, interesting vampires and even more, I found her writing to be wonderful. She was descriptive and at times wordy, much like another author I loved -- J.R.R. Tolkien. While as an adult I, at times, feel that her wordiness is just proof of poor editorial practices, when I was thirteen I discovered a world of description. I realized the power of description and how to really use the English language to display a clear image of what you are sharing with your reader. 

I believe Anne Rice made me a better writer and she certainly helped me in other avenues. By seventeen, with the internet really gaining hold on my generation (is that aging myself?), I found a number of Anne Rice fans through journaling sites (Livejournal and so on) who were all my age. We became friends and I'm happy to say, ten years later, that I am still friends with these people. Some are what I consider to be best friends, people who I share personal secrets with and have been with me through the ups and downs life gives you over a period of ten years.

Ten years ago was also the last time Anne Rice published a book with her vampires taking the lead. Over the years since the last publication I have gone back to read The Vampire Chronicles over and over. This past year, knowing that she was returning to her vampires to publish Prince Lestat, my friends and I did a re-read of the Chronicles. The one thing that I have found to be consistent in this journey is that every time I reread these books, I see them with a different eye than I did during the previous read. Am I more critical with age? Has the shine worn off after all of these years? Has real life experience affected my perception of these novels? 

I realized while reading Interview with the Vampire that the book was more vibrant after I vacationed in New Orleans -- the main setting for that book. I was able to better picture all that Rice was describing by means of the buildings, culture, and the beloved French Quarter. With the other books, I noticed more negative aspects in relationships, inconsistencies,  my true love or dislike of characters (that may or may not have changed from my initial reading). I realized I enjoyed The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned more than I previously did. I also realized how much I wanted to strangle Lestat in Tale of the Body Thief for being a stubborn fool. Having reread the books back to back right before Prince Lestat truly allowed me to go into the latest Vampire Chronicle with a clear head and solid memory of what happened to the cast beforehand.

The title Prince Lestat made me believe this would be a book similar to The Vampire Lestat, in that it would be voiced solely by our Brat Prince as he told the initial plot: vampires across the land are going up in smoke due to a faceless voice that is telling vampires young and old to kill their own kind. The vampires are more tied to the modern age of technology with the use of cell phones, computers and radio, all at their disposal. While the plot of the book is pretty spot on, my assumption of the narrator was not. 

For the majority of the book, Lestat is silent or not the narrator at all. Each chapter is shared from the narration of different characters. It focused on characters we met either briefly or not at all and we become familiar with them as we travel along and the story develops. So I was thrown that this wasn't solely Lestat's book. But the title, much like the title of Queen of the Damned, certainly has an emphasis for the end result of the book.

Still, I enjoyed reading about the different vampires. I have long been a fan of the vampires who get very little page counts in the books: Zenobia, Eleni, and Gabrielle. I was pleased that I was able to see all three of these characters in the book, although they weren't present long enough to satisfy me. The other vampires that made their entrances were exciting as well. Through these characters, readers have the opportunity to hear more details of other vampires. We learn more about their mortal lives (such as the mortal, or early vampire years, of Akasha and Enkil) and how the spread of vampires truly makes them all interconnected.

But some points of the book had me feeling absolutely furious. Rice kills off some very beloved characters that have been around for years (in the published books) and to be honest, I was pissed. I found the deaths to be quick and not given the attention they deserve. I found the deaths to be just write offs of the characters and feel Rice, if she had wanted to kill these characters, could have done such a better job in handling their deaths. She is capable of wordiness, she is capable of describing something to the point of doing it too much and too well, she is capable of really getting to your heart and making you feel the emotions of the characters but I found this lacking. I know from my past readings that these deaths could have been handled with more care. They were side notes, often mentioned but not really focused on, and I feel that was an injustice to the characters and how important they were.

There was also an inconsistency with this book and the many others. It is often pressed upon that older vampires can endure more. Sunlight won't kill them and they are powerful enough to stop mere baby vampires of only a few hundred years old from harming them. Why then, do so many "ancient" vampires so easily fall?

I also realized that Lestat is now extremely annoying, at least to me. So often I rolled my eyes and wanted to claim "Just, Shut. Up." Yes, yes, he's the Brat Prince but does he really need to behave like such a brat? If you were to meet a twenty year old who behaved in a brattish way, you'd want them to grow up and have very little patience for them. This dude is over two hundred years old and yet all anyone does is praise his brattiness.

The resolution of the book also felt too quickly accomplished. For more than half of the book the readers are given all of this information about characters and how The Voice is trying to control each or has controlled others. But when it comes to the action of the book -- destroying The Voice or trying to get it in control so that it may stop harming vampires -- I feel it was somewhat quickly and too easily fixed. It was also a very obvious resolution. Again, another quick wrap up.

Aside from all of this, I was able to look with a more critical eye after I had finished the book, but I knew that in the end I had found some enjoyment of it. The book was, as books often tend to be, an escape from the stressors of life. I felt the familiar pulls in my heart for a book series that meant so much to me when I was a young teenager and for that, I'm glad there are more books. My opinion is allowed to change with age, I am allowed to become more critical, because I've grown and learned more about reading, writing and the world. Every book has its faults and this book certainly had many. I can't help but feel a little betrayed, that a series I so loved now seems to just be something of a cash cow while the rules of this world are often ignored. Still, maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, I know I'll be reading any additional publishings.

Next Week's Review: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

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