Dracula (Bram Stoker)

5 Star

Finally, the reason I have been away from this page for a few weeks – Dracula! I finished this novel today and I am very excited to write about it. It made a definite impression on me and left me reflecting on the story and its legacy on the genre of vampire fiction that followed.

Stoker is an excellent writer, and I stopped numerous times to note phrases that I particularly enjoyed. While I frequently underline quotes while I read, it is rare for me to stop to appreciate so much of an author’s language. He is especially impressive in his use of similes and other comparisons, creating sentences and paragraphs that flow together and make a reader stop to appreciate the elegant simplicity of his writing.

Many of my underlined passages come in the journal entries of Mina and Jonathan Harker, whose romance inspires me today, over a century after Stoker originally conceived of it. At the start of Dracula, Jonathan is away from his fiancé on business at Castle Dracula, and Mina becomes sick with worry at his continued unexplained absence. After being reunited, we see them marry and care for each other throughout the hunt for Count Dracula. Together, they discover and face their own weaknesses and imperfections, and their love for one another never wavers. This love inspires all those around them and acts as the continuous beacon of hope throughout the novel.

During the novel, I frequently wondered how much of the story Stoker invented and how much of it was taken from or inspired by existing 19th century vampire folklore. After I finished reading, I looked it up and was surprised to learn that Stoker actually borrowed much of the vampire descriptions from earlier essays and writing. This does not diminish the novel for me, but was definitely surprising as I was under the assumption that Dracula was the first concrete start of Vampire fiction.

However much inspiration Stoker took from other authors, it he clearly left a significant legacy on the genre. Elements of his story are reminiscent of modern vampire stories and television shows, and even of other fantasy stories. The hypnosis of Mina to spy on Dracula immediately reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s “horcruxes,” and the infamous connection between Harry and Voldemort. Maybe it’s the Harry Potter nerd in me, but this definitely seemed like a potential inspiration for Rowling’s idea.

This is probably my favorite of all the classics that I have read this summer, and I would encourage everyone who loves a good suspense story to pick it up immediately!

Wreckage (Emily Bleecker)

4 Star

Warning: Clicking through to Continue Reading will reveal spoilers.

 

This book popped up on my Kindle recommendations yesterday and I realized that I had not posted about it, and it definitely deserves a post (Better late than never!). Wreckage tells the story of two plane-wreck survivors who spend their time living off the land of a deserted island while they wait to be rescued. The two survivors have since returned to their normal lives as best they can, and the book switches between past and present to tell their story.

Wreckage is a very cool book and definitely a page turner. Bleecker organized the book phenomenally, letting the reader’s curiosity grow and satisfying it at the perfect moments. It felt like I was dying to get to the next page and find out what was going to happen for the length of the entire book.

While the book has mixed reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I was a little put off by some of the negative comments. It seems like many people did not like the book because it wasn’t realistic. I mean, did these readers really pick up a book about two people who survive alone for two years on an Pacific Ocean island and expect it to be a realistic survival story? The book is not meant to be some sort of survival guide, it is simply a fictional setting in which to examine the ways people grow and live together, within and apart from society.

Warning: Spoilers past this point.

Continue reading