Last night before bed, I downloaded and started to read a light piece of fluffy fiction, one of these urban fantasy novels that are so popular right now. I won’t name it because I really just want to complain about a phenomenon I’m seeing a lot of in this whole genre, as much as I’ve read, anyway.
The driving conflict of this story is supposed to be the horror of the undead: the protagonist is both tainted with the curse of partial undeadness and trying to protect friends from being similarly afflicted. This is a reasonable premise for a fantasy novel, and could make for a good story.
However, there is one little problem. The taint (vampirism, in this case) makes the victim inhumanly strong, with lightning reflexes and acute senses, and also immortal and immune to mundane threats like bullets, poison, knives, and suffocation — decapitation and being burned to ash are the only serious threats (and granted, her enemies know this and are trying to chop her head off). Meanwhile, the traditional weaknesses of vampires — sunlight, garlic, wooden stakes, holy water, etc. — are all dismissed as superstitious misconceptions of the Middle Ages. They don’t affect her.
Also, it turns out, vampirism gives its victims a hypnotic glamor that makes them irresistible, and also an awesome sexual stamina. There is a cost, in that they have to drink blood, but it turns out that nipping a pint from a willing and enthusiastic partner once a week, preferably during the throes of orgasmic ecstasy, is enough to fuel all those superpowers.
So I’m having a little difficulty getting into the story. Every time the protagonist moans about her curse and these evil, rotten vampires who must have their heads ripped off before they eat her baby sister or whoever, I’m thinking the story should be about getting this poor crazy woman into a mental hospital to address her self-esteem issues, and about how she should be joyfully trying to share her gift with her family and friends. It’s very confusing.
Just a suggestion if you’re writing one of these stories: could you either make the curse a real curse that generally puts one into an undesirable situation, or could you write a story about happy, enlightened, lucky people who are overjoyed at their amazing new abilities? ‘Cause the whiny gripey moaney stuff over objectively glorious circumstances is gettin’ old.