Edit: It has come about that this post has been shared by Anne Rice herself, leading to a lot of angry comments (though also some very thought provoking ones). Please note that I am a small scale blogger, with less that 100 followers. Whilst I’m sorry to offend the masses of Anne Rice fans now flooding my page, please keep this in mind. My original intention was to buy a beaten up book second hand to turn into craft once reading it. This happened to be Pandora. I’m sorry for not mentioning this from the word go but I can’t believe that Anne Rice has been so affronted to share this to her Facebook Page knowing how biased her fan base would be when reading my post and the result that this would cause. At this time I choose not to remove this post or the comments, the only difference is that a well-known author has singled out a single post from a tiny blog for her followers to demonize. Thank you for your time.
Last night, I took a craft knife to Anne Rice’s Pandora and I took out every page. I was left with the gutted remains of the cover itself and threw that away. It’s the first time I have ever desecrated a book in such a way and I can’t deny that it wasn’t made all the more enjoyable by how much I really and truly loathed that book.
Pandora is the second Anne Rice novel I have attempted to read and, as with the last time, I really did expect more. Novels such as Interview With a Vampire I’d always heard were excellent. I was a goth in my earlier years and learnt inherently that Anne Rice is an excellent novelist and I’d simply accepted such things without actually reading the novels myself. I’ve never even seen the movie of Interview With A Vampire, vampires simply never interested me when I was younger but I carried around the assumed knowledge that I would enjoy Anne Rice if I ever saw a copy in a charity shop (my main way of coming across the books I read).
So, It Turns Out I Was Wrong About Anne Rice
I don’t want to offend any big fans of Anne Rice but I would be curious to ask… why? I read Pandora, which I’ve heard is certainly one of her weaker novels and that gives me some comfort. The story revolves around the high romanticized reminiscing of an ancient vampire called (funnily enough) Pandora, who was turned during the Roman empire. Of course, it takes a freakin’ long time for this to happen, she isn’t even turned until the latter half of the book. Most of the story seems to be about how freakin’ amazing Pandora is. She’s so cool and we should want to be her because she’s clever and witty and also gorgeous. She has no flaws, I looked, unless you count her later unwavering dedication to the ancient god who helps give her vampirism. And Pandora is followed around (both in her mortal and vampire life) by Marius, who is so transparently going to become her lover that it’s amazing Anne Rice believes herself to be dancing around the subject.
What staggered me the most about this vampire novel was the complete lack of… any vampiric behavior. Not only because Pandora isn’t a vampire for the longest time but she only seems to crave blood when she’s human. The dreams that pursue her thanks to this ancient god are the only time we experience a genuine blood lust that disconcerts her. I suppose this could be natural to her once turned but why would you do that? Blood drinking is quite possibly the MOST NOTABLE ASPECT OF A VAMPIRE! Later on she makes a throwaway comment about drinking from soldiers but that’s essentially it. The only time we really see her as the monster is in our modern day, before her meeting with David, never after. She never seems distressed by her need for blood and the focus isn’t even on her transformation. Why? Because it turns out that Pandora was tempted to this land so that she’d reunite with Marius, giving him a reason to continue his endless, eternal life. This is because they are meant to be, though they seem to do nothing but endlessly bicker once they are both vampires. He mourns her humanity, though Pandora clearly doesn’t care about it. They struggle, talking in ridiculously flowery and contrary language when something straight forward might well end their relationship problems. And really, they’re not presented as vampires, they’re presented as eternal humans who will be able to love from whatever distance for all time.
There’s a word I really want to start throwing around now, Anne Rice fans, and it begins with a T.
Don’t be mad at me, even if Pandora really is one of the worst Anne Rice novels then it’s still better written than Twilight. Just not by as much as you think. Whilst Stephanie Meyer traps us inside a character’s head, dictating to us how this character thinks and that her interactions are good and even normal, Anne Rice traps us in these falsely grand environments that she won’t stop describing in every detail. She forces us to see the world in the way she wants us to, unrelenting in the narrow vision we are seeing. And both Bella and Pandora are too blank and perfect, though Pandora much less so than Bella. Neither one of them is a complete character, she’s a woman who is to be loved/ obsessed with by the leading male and little else. It may have taken a goddess to bring Pandora to Marius’ side but the result is the same: eternal marriage thanks to being vampires. It’s also not interesting. Their relationship is trapped in meaningless bickering and their apparent “devotion” to one another that Anne Rice demands we believe in but we never see any example of. It’s meant to be a great romance but it falls flat for me just as much as Bella and Edward a la Twilight. If all her books are written in such a way then I’d even go so far as to say that Anne Rice was very fortunate that the internet wasn’t widespread when she was this popular.
I also get the feeling that Pandora depends on the other vampire novels that surround it to give it substance. There are endless references in the opening chapter about what’s been happening in the vampire world, which never really seem to matter to Pandora’s own story so they don’t seem relevant. Perhaps Anne Rice felt she didn’t want to go over common themes that she’d visited in previous vampire stories but it certainly makes this one the weaker for it. There’s no substance to the relationship between the characters or the world around them and when the book ended, I didn’t care what would happen to them after.