Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Reader's Lament on that Vampire Romance Novel that Just Won't Go Away

Try as I might to ignore it, that vampire romance novel haunts me, whether through acquaintances who praise it for its popularity, friends who want to watch the movies together for a laugh, or fellow intellectuals who share links to interesting discussions. And so, again and again, I find myself begrudgingly entering into a conversation I find increasingly redundant: does that vampire romance novel have any inherent worth? Most people will agree that the franchise can at the very least open up interesting discussions, but really, can't any work provide the impetus for an interesting discussion?

When this book first became popular, I didn't really think about it. I had plenty of friends who either hated it or loved it, but as far as I could tell from the descriptions, it was just a romance novel with beautiful cover art. When I finally decided to read it, that decision stemmed from curiosity, combined with desperation after my flight was unexpectedly delayed and I ran out of reading material at the airport. Plus, some friends had recommended I extend some research I was engrossed in with Wuthering Heights and use the same methods on the vampire romance novel, so I hoped the read would prove pragmatic.

And, okay, I'll confess - I enjoyed it for about 50 pages. I found the premise and the characters intriguing, and my plane ride was much more enjoyable than if I'd been reduced to staring at my hands. But then the book seemed to forget where it was going. We spent about a hundred pages in some sickeningly juvenile fantasy where a boy lies in bed with you but with no intention of trying to have sex and spends hours and hours gazing at you in a field. And the narration treated this as normal behavior. Then the male protagonist turned increasingly controlling, and that, combined with the number of times I had to read about what it felt like to kiss a person who felt like a cold statue, left me giggling. I finished the book in hysterics, occasionally rushing out of my room to share with my roommates a passage that was hilarious for the author's unbridled delusion of teenage lust love.

Despite everything I'd heard against that book, I was shocked by how bad the writing was. I went into it expecting something a step below Harry Potter, and instead I found something about as polished as a Harlequin. As far as I could surmise, the only thing keeping anyone's attention was the sexual tension, and sexual tension alone does not even a decent book make. Still, when I finished the first book, I wondered what  would happen next and even considered finishing the series. But I could not bring myself to slog through that writing, and when I learned that even the female protagonist's sweet younger friend who seemed like a viable romantic partner and a great alternative to a stalker was himself going to turn into a stalker later in the series - well, at that point, I tried to wash my hands of the whole thing.

Yet I've never quite broken away from the discussion that surrounds this particular supernatural romance novel. Why not? Because other people are constantly talking about it, and I find it hard to bite my tongue when I start hearing things like, "You can't say she's a bad writer. You just can't say that, because the book proves otherwise." Thank you, random acquaintances, for begging the question with that one.

But you know what? As cool as I find all the discussions the book opens up, I'm sick of talking about it. I don't want to think about it or talk about or read about it or blog about it. I want to wash it out of my life for once and for all. And so, this post is my cathartic goodbye to all the discussions I'm tired of feeling compelled to engage in. Because you know what? It's really not worth it.

So, book which I shall not name, this blog post is my cathartic farewell. I never loved you, I once hated you, and now I pity you in a distant sort of way. Let's just part ways and pretend we never met.

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