Friday, May 13, 2011

Undead reading

Well, so far this year, I've managed to read 20 books out of a goal of 30. Of course, my co-worker who started keeping track of the books she's read this year (actually since January 11) is at almost 60. At the rate I'm going, I'll have to increase my goal and get comfortable with the fact that I won't catch up with my co-worker. In the last few months, I read a couple of books dealing with the undead - the first being my beloved zombies and the other being one of the original vampire novels.

The Walking Dead: Compendium One was a gift I bought for my friend Matt last Christmas this year based upon the fact that I joined him and his wife almost every Sunday night last fall to watch AMC's adaptation of Robert Kirkman's graphic novel. After he finished it, he offered it to me to read. At 1,088 pages, the compendium collates the first 48 issues and provided a good companion to the TV series. I found it entertaining to compare and contrast the two. Not only is the graphic novel much darker than the series, it takes no prisoners and makes no promises as far as the survival or lack thereof of major characters. There are many MANY scenes that I hope end up in the series. Their side trip through the suburban development and the Governor storyline all seem like they would translate well. What it boils down to is whether or not AMC has the cojones to go that dark. Matt and I are not convinced that they are, but they surprised me a couple times last year in the 6 episodes that comprised the first season of The Walking Dead.

The book took me a long time to read. I'll admit, I started with great fervor and then put it down for several months. My Goodreads progress on the book tells me that I started it on January 29th and finally finished it on April 28th. It was not a book that I found I could read in little bits. I either consumed it or didn't touch it. Once I got to about the half-way point, there was really no other option than to consume it. I'm not a big reader of graphic novels, but based on this one, I'm eager for the second compendium to come out.

The Heretics & Spirituality group, fresh from having read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein decided to dive into another classic of Gothic horror - Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was a free, preloaded book on my Nook Color, so I was more than happy to go along with it. I had started to read Dracula in college, but I never finished it. I remember getting to right about the point where Lucy is transformed into a vampire by the Count and then, for whatever reason, I abandoned it. The story is told in the form of letters and journal entries, starting with Jonathan Harker's trip to Transylvania and Castle Dracula to help the vampiric Count acquire property in England. These opening pages are riveting and well told. Stoker sets up a sense of place rather adeptly as well as a definite sense of foreboding. When the action shifts to England, the plot slows down substantially and I felt contributed to the middle of the book dragging a lot. It's no wonder I gave up on it in 1990.

I was also bogged down by the language used in the writing of the book, which is certainly not the fault of Stoker as he was just writing in the way that people wrote in the 1800s. Many of the characters all kind of blended together in my brain and the protracted climax of the book left me a bit unsatisfied, as if all the action built to an event that was followed by 1 page of wrap up.

And although I already knew it, the Francis Ford Coppola directed Bram Stoker's Dracula really should have had the tag line "loosely inspired by Bram Stoker's novel." a la Demi Moore's film version of The Scarlet Letter.

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