Friday, November 19, 2010

Interview with the Vampire (Novel)

Interview with the Vampire (Novel) Release date: 1976. Author: Anne Rice. Publisher: Ballantine Books. ISBN: 0345409647.

Plot summary: Interview with the Vampire, the first novel in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, tells the story of Louis, a young plantation owner in 18th century New Orleans, who is transformed into a vampire by the handsome and bewitching vampire Lestat. Lestat is enamored with his new companion, but Louis has trouble adjusting to life as a vampire, preferring to feed on animals rather than humans as Lestat does. As the years pass, Louis begins to become more comfortable with preying on humans, however, and the two move to the center of New Orleans to live fashionably. In the city, Louis encounters a young, sick child on whom he feeds but does not kill. Lestat decides to turn the child, Claudia, into a vampire to add to their family. Louis immediately becomes a father-figure for Claudia, and the three live happily for a time. Claudia becomes increasingly frustrated, however, when she realizes that, though her mind is that of a woman, she is forever stuck in the body of a child. Claudia decides to kill Lestat, and after they believe their creator is dead, Louis and Claudia escape to Europe. In Paris, the pair meet Armand and his vampire coven, whom they befriend. The coven becomes suspicious, however, suspecting that Claudia and Louis might be responsible for murdering their creator.

Critical evaluation: Anne Rice’s famed Vampire Chronicles series begins with the now classic Interview with the Vampire. Although teen literature is now riddled with vampire stories, Rice’s tale of Louis, Lestat and Claudia stands out as one of the first vampire novels appealing to the young adult audience. Although the story is full of action and scares, the true plot is about the relationship between Lestat, Louis and Claudia. Lestat is a handsome, charming vampire, but also one who clearly has a past of his own. His creation of Louis satisfies a deep need for companionship, something that teens will be able to identify with in their own relationships. Lestat is fearful of losing Louis as his companion, and creates Claudia to be their “vampire daughter.” Lestat knows that Louis will love the little girl immediately, and uses her to keep his family together. This is a kind of dynamic that many teens have experienced in their lives: fear of losing a friend, using others to maintain relationships. The novel is essentially a reflection of human dynamics, disguised as a scary story. Claudia’s rebellion against her “father” is another important part of this dynamic. Overall, Rice’s first novel set the stage for teen vampire stories of today. Instead of creepy ghouls, Rice’s vampires are beautiful, charming, and fashionable. Their need to feed on humans is only part of their existence. They deal with love, loss, friendship, and romance, and other authors (Stephanie Meyer, etc.) have expanded upon this idea. A must-read for any teen vampire fan.

Reader's annotation: This first novel in Anne Rice’s famed Vampire Chronicles tells the story of a vampire family: Lestat, Louis and their “daughter” Claudia. Together, the threesome live in 19th century New Orleans, feeding on the living, and dealing with their immortality.

About the author: Born in 1941, Anne Rice spent most of her childhood in New Orleans (the setting for some of her future novels). After graduating high school in 1959, Anne went to the Texas Woman’s University in Denton as well as North Texas State College. After college, Anne married her childhood sweetheart, Stan Rice. The two moved to San Francisco where they lived until 1989 when they moved back to New Orleans. The couple lost their first child, a daughter, to leukemia in 1972. Their son, Christopher Rice, was born in 1978. Christopher, like his mother and father, also went on to become an author. Rice completed her first novel, Interview with the Vampire, in 1973 and it was published in 1976. The novel was very popular, prompting Rice to continue her series, The Vampire Chronicles. The series includes novels like The Vampire Lestat (1985), The Queen of the Damned (1988), and The Vampire Armand (1998). The final novel in the series, Blood Canticle was published in 2003. Rice also wrote another popular series about the lives of the Mayfair witches, some of which have crossed over with her vampire characters. After her husband’s death from cancer in 2002, Rice made a public announcement that she would devote her writing to the subject of Christianity. Since then, she has written several works on the topic including Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt (2005) and Called Out of Darkness (2008). In July of 2010, Rice made another announcement concerning her faith, stating that she no longer identifies herself as a Christian, although she still devotes herself to the teachings of Jesus. (
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Historical

Curriculum ties:
American literature

Booktalking ideas:
Relationships (Louis and Lestat, Louis and Claudia, etc.)
Rebellion and punishment

Reading level/Interest Age:
Age 15+

Challenge issues:

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for ages 15 and up.
Recommend parent read book before child.
Recommend parent discuss book with child.

Reasons for inclusion:
Considered a classic American novel.
Positive reviews from Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Boston Globe.
From New York Times bestselling author and series.

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