Read: 14 July, 2008
Overall, I’d say that this was a good book. It wasn’t fabulous, but it passed the time in an entertaining way. It didn’t provide all that much food for thought. Despite the near-constant philosophical ramblings, I found that most of them contradicted with my own observations far too much to be thought-provoking (for example, one character explains that mortals will believe just about anything other than a supernatural explanation, preferring even the most ridiculous natural explanation – never mind all the talk about finding a good parking space being a “gift from god” or all the “real haunting” TV shows one sees on television). I do think that I liked it better than Interview With a Vampire, but that might just be because Interview was a bit of a disappointment after having seen and loved its movie.
The writing itself was fairly strong – not great, but better than average. There were some parts where present tense was used, despite the bulk of the novel being in the past tense. This wasn’t done for any discernible purpose and it made those passages seem awkward.
I did take some issue with the narrative voice. For one thing, the start of the novel had a completely different tone to the rest. There’s some half-hearted attempt to explain this, that Lestat is so old and has lived through so many linguistic eras that he switches between them from time to time. All well and good except that the voice of the first couple pages is never used again. All that explanation stuffed into the story when Rice could have just as easily re-written the first few pages to match the tone of the rest. Not to mention the fact that the voice of the first few pages was incredibly annoying, to the point that I considered not reading on.
My other major issue with the narrative voice is that it is very similar to the one used in Interview With a Vampire. There was no distinct personality showing through as I have seen in so many other novels. The Vampire Lestat was a novel best written in first person, and that was a good choice, but in terms of skill, Rice ought to have stuck to third person instead. This became even clearer during Armand and Marius’ narratives. If I put the book down and picked it up again later, I could easily forget who was telling that part of the story. It’s forgiveable in this case because of the plot – that Lestat is re-telling the stories he’d been told in the past. So it’s conceivable that he is re-telling them in his own way. But this doesn’t excuse the likeness of Louis’s and Lestat’s stories.
There was also a bit of sexism present, as in Interview With a Vampire. Female characters are given very little page time. In this book, there is the added discussion about how female vampires are unpredictable or mad. That being said, however, the narrators of Interview With a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat are both male and it is a character who makes the statement about female vampires. I am willing to accept that the sexism of these novels is from the characters and not the novel itself, especially since Claudia and Gabrielle both seem to be strong and independent (in mind, though Claudia, of course, is completely dependent in other ways) woman with clear and consistent goals. In many ways, I’ve found those two (with the possible addition of Eleni) to be more interesting than Louis, Lestat, Armand, or Marius. It’s a shame they don’t get their own stories (or maybe they do? If anyone reading this review knows of a Rice book where any of these three gets their own story, I’d love to know which one).
And my final complaint is with the names. I’ve never heard a French name like “Lestat.” Just saying it, it doesn’t sound French at all, even if the final T is pronounced (which would be a no-no in modern French). I don’t know where Rice got it from, but I personally think it was a very poor choice. It killed my suspension of disbelief every time it came up because I would try to say it in French, as I do with Louis’s name, and it just wouldn’t work.
I loved the inconsistencies between Interview With a Vampire and the Vampire Lestat. I also liked that the explanations in the Vampire Lestat for questions that had been left unanswered fit well into a separate narrative of their own. This was something that had bothered be in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The subsequent novels attempted to explain away a lot of what had happened in the first, and this killed the jokes and made the subsequent novels feel like they were mostly there as additional material rather than stand-alone books. This was something Rice successfully avoided.
P.S.: What’s the deal with Typhon? Why is the name Set never mentioned? If anyone knows, I’d love to hear it!
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