Newest Review: ... all the characters. Although the whole story revolves around Nothing, he is one of the less colourful characters, being young, relative... more
Sex, blood and rock 'n' roll
Lost Souls - Poppy Z. Brite
Member Name: sunmeilan
Lost Souls - Poppy Z. Brite
Advantages: Great story, wacky characters
Disadvantages: It's like reading porn at times
I love horror, but haven't really read all that much vampire literature, except for the occasional Anne Rice. However, a friend recommended this book, and not being one to turn down a challenge, I went ahead and read it. And I have to admit that, with the exception of one aspect of the book, it is a very intriguing story, full of vampirism, mind-reading and other types of magic. Quite who it is aimed at, I am not sure. I tend to think of vampire novels as being aimed at teenagers, but in this case, because of the frequent descriptions of sex, I think it may be more appropriate for at over 18s. But more on that later.
I loved all the characters. Although the whole story revolves around Nothing, he is one of the less colourful characters, being young, relatively innocent and unsure of his role in the world. Nevertheless, I had a certain amount of respect for his wanting to flee a life that made him so unhappy, and he definitely inspired a lot of sympathy in me. Zillah, Molochai and Twig are the complete opposite of Nothing. They are party animals, with little sympathy for anyone or anything outside their world. They strip people of their blood, usually choosing teenage boys or girls, and are just concerned with their next fix. Nevertheless, they are very striking as characters - Zillah's beguiling green eyes and psychopathic tendencies may not be likeable, but they are certainly intriguing.
I also loved Ghost and Christian. Ghost is a strange character. The lead singer of Lost Souls, and best friend to the other member of the band, Steve, he is able to read minds and has strange visions. Constantly terrified that something awful will happen to Steve, he spends nearly all his time trying to keep him safe, but also has time to show concern for Nothing and Steve's ex-girlfriend. Christian is another vampire, but unlike Zillah et al, he is much more mature in his behaviour, only killing when he absolutely has to. Characterisation is most certainly Poppy Z Brite's strong point - each and every one of them is beautifully described and, despite the number of characters, by the end of the book, I really felt as though I knew all of them.
The story is a good one. It is told from the point of view of a number of characters, primarily Christian, Nothing and Steve and Ghost, and at the beginning, it is hard to understand quite what they all have in common. However, the story slowly reveals how they all fit together and, by a third of the way through the book, I was hooked. And I loved the idea of vampires living unnoticed amongst ordinary people. Zillah et al and Christian may have dressed strangely, but they were still able to lead the lives of their choosing without any outside interference. This could have come across as childish, but the way Brite tells the story, it is actually not and I was left feeling as if I'd read a worthwhile piece of literature.
I adored the way that the author describes the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is a place I've always wanted to visit, and do even more now. It isn't exactly described as it would be in a travel book - the streets are dark and poky and alcohol seems to be the main source of sustenance - after blood of course. However, Brite makes it sound fresh and intriguing despite all this - no mean feat I think. Brite's attention to detail in describing other settings throughout the course of the book is brilliant too, if a little disgusting at times (the mattress that Zillah et al sleep on is truly gross) and it really brings the book alive.
My only concern with the book is the amount of sex and how graphic it is. In the first two thirds of the book, there is at least one sex scene in every chapter. Now, I am no prude; in fact, I like reading about sex, but a couple of descriptions in any one book is enough for me. If I want more, I'll read Emanuelle or some other porn literature. It should also be noted that the sex is rarely boy meets girl and falls in love type sex. It is largely homosexual, with the odd bit of incest and rape thrown in, and I've no doubt that it could offend some. And parents might be concerned about their teenagers reading this sort of book, especially when there is no warning on the cover. Personally though, I'd have loved it as a teenager!
I did enjoy this book, despite the over-enthusiastic sex scenes; it was well-written with great characters and an intriguing plot, and I will certainly look out for more books by the same author. I think anyone interested in horror will enjoy it. However, it may not be the best bet for parents to buy for their teenager, at least not without research to check how appropriate it is. I'm dropping a star for the gratuitous sex, but apart from that, it is definitely recommended, four stars out of five.
The book is available from play.com for £5.99. Published by Penguin Books, it has 368 pages. ISBN: 9780140173925
Summary: A vampire story with lots of sex