Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Immortal: Love Stories With Bite

Immortal: Love Stories With Bite was a book I picked up in the hopes of finding some inspirational material for my Nanowrimo novel. I was looking for a variety of vampire love stories which could perhaps expose some of the reasons why teenagers love reading vampire fiction so much. What I didn't expect to find, upon opening the book, was an introduction by the editor P.C. Cast, which actually answered so many of my own questions. Aside from the perhaps forgivable plug for her own series of vampire stories, Cast suggested the reason so many teenagers identify with vampire stories is the seductive idea of immortality. I must admit this hadn't really crossed my mind, so I was pleasantly surprised.

But the book itself; it's an anthology of vampire stories by contemporary writers. To sum it up is difficult considering there were stories I liked much better than others. So I'll just look at each of them in turn.

Haunted Love by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Smith is the author of Tantalize, and in this short story, set in Texas (where a remarkable number of vampire stories, and a fair proportion of the ones in this book, seem to be set) in an abandoned movie theatre which is re-opened by a recently turned vampire. The ghost of a long-dead girl and a new human arrival in town compete for his attention in this cinema, and I must admit this first story didn't give me too much hope for the rest of the anthology. It was a little patchy - towards the end of the story dismembered heads randomly make an appearance, which was a bit of a shock for me at 11 pm at night. XD

Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast

Cast, who is co-author with her mother on the House of Night series, contributed a story in which the ancient Greek Fates send up a vampire to save a human girl from a death, to fulfil an unnamed Revenge. It was an interesting idea, I have to admit, but the writing was a little choppy in places and the bloody scenes were a little disturbing right before I went to bed.

Dead Man Stalking by Rachel Caine

Set in the same place as her Morganville Vampires series, this story recounts the encounter of a young man with a zombie of his former schoolmate. The main character's father returns to town as a vampire-slaying bikie. I liked the idea of a town run by vampires. The writing was much more suspenseful in this story, but I didn't actually figure out the main character was a guy until the story was more than half-over, which I think was a major oversight on Caine's part, especially as I'm unfamiliar with her other work.

Table Manners by Tannith Lee

This story, in which vampirism is more a state of the mind to be treated through psychotherapy, intrigued me. I enjoyed it a lot, as the main character, who is herself a sort of vampire, encountered a new vampire and tried to convince him to visit her father, the therapist.

Blue Moon by Richelle Mead

I was looking forward to this piece greatly, as I love the Vampire Academy books, and I wasn't disappointed. Mead handled the short story format very well and I found myself more drawn to her characters than most of the others in this book. The main character is a vampire on the run in a city where vampires are boss. Her unsuspecting partner is a human who hates vampires for what they did to his family. It's fast paced but we still get a sense of the characters and come to like them very quickly.

Changed by Nancy Holder

Vampires invade New York and turn it into an apocalyptic nightmare. One girl struggles to survive and reach her best friend and 'love of her life' on the other side of the city. This story was certainly interesting and different, but I found myself confused by the main character. Apparently only sixteen she has already gone through drug abuse and rehab and a two-year relationship with her (now gay) best friend. For a sixteen-year-old in New York City, I think, she's certainly had a busy life. On the whole this story kept my interest but I found I couldn't like the main character or her love interest, though I could at times feel sympathy for them.

Binge by Rachel Vincent

'Binge' has a very interesting premise, dealing with sirens who drink human energy as they sing. I found this fascinating. At a party the main character and her siren friend meet a young musician who the main character quickly realises is a 'genius' that she can act as a sort of deadly muse to. It's a fascinating idea and I enjoyed reading this.

Free by Claudia Gray

I had already formed a less than favourable impression of the author of Evernight's writing; I think judged solely on what I had heard about the books from others. But 'Free' surprised me. Set in the 1800s in New Orleans it is the tale of a young woman destined to become a concubine for a rich white man. But the likeable heroine has other ideas. I loved this short story, which is the background of one of Gray's characters in her Evernight series and found myself drawn to the characters and deeply sympathising for them. Perhaps this has a lot to do with the tragic death of the heroine's chosen lover, Amos. Either way, this was a good read.

All in all, Immortal depicted the wide world of vampire fiction and shows just how dynamic and varying it can be. At times it's a nice deviation from the perhaps all too kid-friendly Twilight and I think that was part of the reason I found it unexpected when I began reading. The stories improve markedly towards the end of the anthology, but in retrospect, that might have less to do with the authors and more to do with my own reading preferences when it comes to the genre. For lovers of the vampire genre there's quite possibly something for everyone.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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