Mezzowriter's ReadWriter Blog

Reading, Writing, and The Search for Buried Gems of Literature

What I’m Reading #33: Vampire Haiku July 3, 2010

I will be the first to admit it: the craze surrounding the Twilight Saga mystifies me.  I can appreciate that the books get kids to read.  Really.  But the premise of the books themselves drives me absolutely nuts.  For that reason, it will be a warm, sunny day in Forks before I post a review of any of Meyers’ books on here.

So instead, I find subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways of poking fun at them.  I suppose it’s a little childish and not very professional of me, but there’s no shortage of tongue-in-cheek titles out there that pander to my petty grudge.

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Today I stumbled across a title by Ryan Mecum and thought, why not?

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Vampire Haiku by Ryan Mecum

How (August 14, 2009)

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Courtesy of Amazon.com:

Product Description

You hold in your hands a recently discovered poetry journal – the poetry journal of a vampire. William Butten was en route to a new land on the Mayflower when he was turned into a vampire by a fellow passenger, a beautiful woman named Katherine. These pages contain his heartbreaking story – the story of a vampire who has lived through (and perhaps caused) some of America’s defining events. As he travels the country and as centuries pass, he searches for his lost love and records his adventures and misadventures using the form of poetry known as haiku.

As Butten documents bloody wars, a certain tea party in Boston, living the high life during the Great Depression, two Woodstock festivals, the corruption of Emily Dickinson, and hanging out with Davy Crockett, he keeps to the classic 5-7-5 syllable structure of haiku. The resulting poems are hilarious, repulsive, oddly romantic, and bizarre.

Read along, and you just may find a new appreciation for – and insight into – various events in American history. And blood.

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Strengths: I don’t know who wrote the product review on the Amazon page.  But they were DEAD on (no pun intended):  “hilarious, repulsive, oddly romantic, and bizarre.”  It’s a lightning fast read, beautifully published (full color throughout), and fabulously addictive.  It’s Interview with the Vampire in Haiku.  The wit in Mecum’s poetry is delightful, and yes, he even gets a little dig in at Twilight: “Those were not vampires./If sunlight makes you sparkle,/ You’re a unicorn.”  But honestly, I was already in love with it before I got to that point.  It sent me scrambling to the internet to find Mecum’s other works.

Potential Flaws: For heaven’s sake.  I’m not picking this one apart.  I loved it.

My Rating:

Witty, wild, and wonderful.  One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time, purely for the fun of it.

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What I’m Reading #32: The Hand of the Devil

To preface this post, I need to share  bit about a couple of my favorite authors:  Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

In 1995, Preston and Child released Relic, a delicious thriller built on archaeology, legend, and science.  They followed this bestseller with Reliquary and 8 other sequels, tied together with the same threads: a fantastic cast of characters, scientific/archeological realities, and various legends of strange phenomena/creatures.

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It appears, to my excitement, that I’ve found a YA equivalent to my Preston/Child obsession.

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The Hand of the Devil by Dean Vincent Carter

Bodley Head Children’s Books; First Edition edition (February 2, 2006)

(Isn’t this a deliciously wicked-looking cover?)

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Courtesy of Amazon.com:

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—As a journalist for the weird science magazine Missing Link, recent college graduate Ashley Reeves has dealt with his fair share of crackpots and phony tips, but the letter from Reginald Mather seems genuine. Mather claims to have in his possession the only known specimen of a particularly large and deadly variety of mosquito known as the Ganges Red, a legendary creature believed by some to have supernatural abilities. Ashley quickly departs for Mather’s isolated cabin on Aries Island where, of course, he is promptly cut off from civilization and finds himself in the company of a very unpleasant insect and at least one madman. (A portion of this review deleted due to spoilers.) Carter’s novel contains a fair helping of gore, but never generates much tension or atmosphere. Although large portions of the novel are devoted to people explaining various back stories to one another, none of the characters (with the possible exception of Mather) really emerges as an individual. Suspense and horror fans will probably find Lois Duncan and Darren Shan more satisfying.—Christi Voth, Parker Library, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Description

When young magazine journalist Ashley Reeves receives an intriguing letter, he leaves his London office in the hope of reporting on an unusual species of insect – the Ganges Red. That evening he arrives on Aries Island and encounters the writer of the letter – Reginald Mather. At first Mather seems no more than an eccentric collector, happy to live in isolation on the island. But when Reeves unearths the horrific truth he finds himself thrown headlong into a macabre nightmare that quickly spirals out of control. His life is in danger …and Mather is not his only enemy …Both gruesome and compelling, chilling and page-turning, this much-anticipated thriller from Dean Vincent Carter will delight older readers.

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Ok, so I’m not in full agreement with School Library Journal.  I really thought this was a refreshing departure from typical teen thrillers.  It felt more like a YA Stephen King novel.  It’s definitely not for younger readers; I wouldn’t recommend it below 9th grade, unless the reader was particularly precocious.

It’s definitely a little more raw in content than say, Christopher Pike.  I didn’t find this to be a pale book by any stretch of the imagination; I tore through it in less than a day (and I usually don’t sit and read for HOURS at a time unless the book is REALLY fantastic).  So…

Strengths: As I’ve said, a definite change of pace from some of the tamer, more diluted teen thrillers out there.  Its similarity to Preston/Child books (if you read this and like it, I strongly suggest finding a copy of Relic) was more than enough to pull me in.  Mathers is wonderfully creepy as the villain.  The ending of the book does, IMO, build up quite a bit of tension through a series of confrontations that pile up on each other.

Potential Flaws: I did find one element to be lacking: the addition of  Reeves’ love interest.  She appears too late in the novel and without enough build-up to make Reeves’ feelings for her believable.  It’s a rather afterthought-ish way to add the romance in, which ends up being critical to the climax.   Definitely needed refining in that area.

My Rating:

Carter’s book is fast-paced, gruesome, and intense.  Thoroughly enjoyable and uniquely plotted.  Good for reading late at night.  🙂