Maybe the third try (for me) is the one. The one where I finally review every book I read this year. Come on, Fig. Do eet.
There were two questions constantly running through my mind as I read this book. One: Why am I reading yet another book about vampires? And two: Why is it that people who write about vampires always have the whiny, boring vampires as their protagonists?
As to the first question: I don't know. I suppose after reading the shitfest that was Twilight, followed by the campy fun of the Sookie Stackhouse series, I wanted a different take on vampires. Something serious and dark, more along the lines of Dracula. So based on vague recollections of people telling me this was good, I picked it up.
As to the second question...hell, I don't know. Anne Rice, like Stephanie Meyer (ugh) and Charlaine Harris (in the first Sookie Stackhouse books, at least) decided to tell us about the constantly conflicted and whiny vampire. Like Edward and Bill, Louis is the one vampire in the world who isn't happy about being vampire and who refuses to have any fun while being an immortal, impossibly beautiful and powerful being. Why? Why spend eternity grieving about your basic nature and being miserable about who you are? Just walk out into the sunshine one day, kill yourself and save us all from having to read about your misery. Let the fun, crazy vampires like Lestat be the main characters of the story--they're so much more entertaining to read about.
The plot here is your basic Vampire fare. Louis is a vampire telling his story to a reporter sometime in the late 20th Century. He was originally a wealthy plantation owner living in New Orleans near the end of the 19th Century. He had a pretty good life until his brother died in a silly accident, which led Louis to become all depressed and emo-like, wanting to die but lacking the courage to kill himself. Along came Lestat, a batshit-crazy vampire who one day decided to make Louis his companion, mostly because Louis is rich. Lestat is outright evil and conniving, and pretty soon Louis gets tired of his company. But he still sticks around, whining and complaining about being a vampire, feeding off rats and other animals because he can't stand eating humans. He mostly just sits around and whines, waffling about good and evil, life and death and a whole lot of other very boring stuff. After a while he makes a young child, Claudia, into a vampire, who pretty soon gets sick of all of Louis' whining, too.
There's just so much whining. And what's most infuriating about the book is that the characters surrounding Louis are almost all fascinating in their own right. But, instead of focusing on them, Rice decides to just let us hear Louis complaining and wringing his hands about the things that they do. Claudia is a particularly interesting character--she's a monster trapped in a child's body, unable to change or grow and hating Lestat and Louis for it. She wants to do a lot of things--to take advantage of her immortality and learn more about vampires, while Louis just wants to sit there and...I don't know, whine some more. They travel to Europe and meet more vampires, most of whom end up getting quickly tired of Louis' whiny bullshit. Just like I did. Because it just doesn't stop, and pretty quickly I learned to just skim over long passages of Louis questioning the meaning of life and vampirism, because I wanted to get to the good stuff where the actual vampires do something.
It's just not a very good book. It suffers greatly from the fact that Rice picked an incredibly boring character as her narrator and protagonist, one who gets very tiring very quickly. And there's just too many passages where Louis just sits there thinking about being a vampire, instead of just being one. The story is slow and dry, only getting interesting when other people intervene--it's never Louis who does anything worth reading. I guess this might appeal to some people; those who want to philosophize and really think about what it means to be a vampire, but I'm just not one of those people. Or rather, I think there's ways to make this interesting, but Anne Rice just didn't do that for me. There's actually some good scenes in the book, but in the end they're too few and far between to make the book a compelling read.
I think my experience with Rice's vampires ends here.