Posted at 10:00 AM Jul 01, 2009
Go into any Barnes & Noble these days, and odds are you'll run into some gargantuan, employee-constructed edifice to the Twilight book series. Likewise, if you check out the New York Times Bestsellers lists, you'll find two other young adult vampire book sagas have sprung up: House of Night ("Vampires in school") and Vampire Diaries ("Vampires in school, with a love triangle.")
"Enough!" I say. Who would want to breathe life into do-nothing high schoolers such as Bella Swan? I've only read the first 10 to 20 pages of Twilight, but in talking to friends, I imagine it takes some endurance to spend three-books-worth of time wondering, "will they or won't they?" Instead, I would submit Sookie Stackhouse (the title character in the series by Charlaine Harris, since spun off onto TV as HBO's True Blood) as the woman with supernatural exploits worth watching in real time.
Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in Merlotte's bar in a nowhere town in Louisiana, in a world where vampires have come out of hiding, thanks to Japanese-manufactured synthetic blood (sweet). Vampires aren't the only supernatural beings either. Sookie herself has ESP, and her boss is a shapeshifter (awesome). Sookie's trying to use her ESP to solve a rash of murders (amazing) while falling for 160-year-old vampire Bill Compton (what? Doubly amazing) who, as a vampire, is the first man whose baser thoughts Sookie doesn't have to endure. This is no doubt a total blessing when considering the split-second, moment-to-moment thoughts of most men in bars. Yikes, am I right, guys?
Anyway, there's murder, there's intrigue, there's (uh oh) harsh language. And there's sex, by god. Like any first-person narrator, Sookie seems like she'd be a little long-winded and oddly forward in actual conversation. Before the completion of the first page, she's informing readers, " ... I don't get out much. And it's not because I'm not pretty. I am." But she takes action and makes choices, damn it, and that'd make her a hell of a lot more interesting to listen to in real life than flip-flopping, adjective-happy Bella, who would bore folks into the ground with descriptions of people "frowning angrily" or "jumping excitedly" and questions about whether she should date Edward or Jacob (I swear I only read the first 20 pages).
After some shallow probing of the NYT bestseller lists, I count a total of 14 vampire-related titles, and 10 of them belong to Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse. Can't be an accident, right? Sorry, Bella. Stay home and try not to get pregnant again. Sookie, please, tell us a story.
[Ed. note: If you're thinking, "Didn't Andrea crap all over these crappy books a while back?" You're right. She did. Are you with Geoff or Andrea on this one?]