My sister vowed that it would change my life. Not regular gym outings or learning how to program the VCR, but reading the Twilight series of novels. She handed me her copies with the prophecy, “You are going to just love these. The longing, the yearning, the passion... the best romantic novels ever.” I’m always wary when someone feels the need to reassure me that I am just going to love something. That’s the reason most of my blind dates have failed. Nevertheless, I allocated some spare time, curled up on my duvet and was prepared to be blown away by the passionate love of Bella and Edward.
Is it really necessary for the author to continually point out how incredibly hot Edward is? Pages and pages of Bella’s gawping at this demi-God. We get it. Now move on please. And what is so great about having a boyfriend who’s dead? Cold dead? Descriptions about her brushing her cheek against his cold one? Brrr. To imagine any further kind of bodily contact, oh hell no. Bad enough if someone puts his cold toes anywhere near mine, let alone cold anything else.
The love affair seems pointless, creepy even – she’ll age, he’ll remain hot, she’ll have to go to college, he’ll remain stuck at school over and over again, she’s deadly dull, he’s marginally less so, and so on and so forth.
Then there’s the whole thing about how he really wants to suck her blood. Hmm. Euphemism anyone? The key angst in the books revolves around Edward’s supernatural strength in holding back from devouring Bella. As he struggles to control his physical urges (apparently Bella’s blood is particularly alluring to our young sucker), so the angst levels increase, and with that the teenage kitchen sink dramas play out. Just bite her goddamn it, I feel like screaming, Get it over with!
Now I’ve nothing against vampire stories. As a young teen I was fascinated by Gary Oldman’s splitting open his chest to allow the pre-shoplifting days Winona Ryder a hefty swig in Coppola’s take on the Dracula story. Interview with a Vampire was even better - Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas. Vampires were scary, but sexy as hell. But for all of its allusions to sex, Twilight is more sex-lite. More teen dream than teen scream. Where had the sleazy vampires gone to?
Slogging through the third in the Twilight saga, I was alerted to the twangs of Jace Everett that heralded the beginning of True Blood.
Now this is more my kind of vampire story. Set in the deep South, Sookie, the telepathic waitress has fallen in love with Bill, the mainstreaming vampire. Vampires have come out into the open since the introduction of synthetic blood, but this is the South, and prejudice and bigotry lie alongside the uneasy truce between vampires and humans. Yet, unlike Bella and Edward, Bill’s not about to model for Italian Vogue anytime soon. He hangs with other vampires who frequent dodgy vampire bars with names like Fangtasia, and is always on hand to protect his Sookie who is always dressed in virginal white. Corny? Oh yes, but it gets better.
Whereas the pull with Twilight is the lack of sex, in True Blood the sleaze-o-meter runs high. Fang bangers cruise around picking up vampires to have sex with, or to donate blood or both. And someone’s picking them off one by one, deepening the divide of mistrust. Where Twilight dodges the issue of feeding, True Blood bares its teeth so to speak.
Even the supporting cast have more bite. There’s Sookie’s manwhore older brother Jason whose becoming addicted to ‘V’ – vampire blood that gives mortals the high of their lives. The best friend Tara, a foul mouthed, straight-talking, adult child of an alcoholic whose supposed lack of social skills keep her from further emotional pain. And then there’s Sam, in love with Sookie, shagging Tara, and want to transform into a dog to protect his beloved from her vampire boyfriend. I don’t think we’ll see Jacob the werewolf shacking up with any of Bella’s good mates anytime soon. Oh wait, hang on, that’s right, Bella doesn’t really have any human friends, only vampire ones.
No, I don’t think the Twilight series will change my life, except perhaps to think twice about following abnormally beautiful women tour guides around Italy. I will be watching the next movie in the series though. As the author keeps pointing out, the guy who plays Edward is like, really hot, and that might just sustain my attention long enough to find out what happens next.