So a little while ago I got over my hesitation about reading a book about vampires and read Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. It was worth it! The book swept me off my feet with it’s deep questions about what makes us good, what drives us and how do we live when we have lost our faith. I say faith but I don’t just mean faith in a religion or a god/s as the book tackles so many different kinds of faith. Faith in people, ourselves, freewill, society, morals, law, god and religion and I am sure that I am still missing a few! But for the purpose of ease of writing I will just say faith.
When I first started I thought I was going into a possible drama, star crossed love, action novel. Little did I know that it was less about vampires and more about exploring philosophical ideas. Rice delves into the question of what makes us tick; and are those that lose faith (regardless of what they lose faith in) really just the vampires of the world? Always taking, but having nothing to give in return?
As we learn more of the characters past, a pattern emerges. At one point or another, all of the characters have lost their faith. Be it Louis’s loss of faith in life or Lestat’s loss of faith in God and a moral way of living. The idea of losing your way, of having some guiding factor taken from you, seems to be the defining thing that all vampires have in common. There is always that moment when their lack of belief or faith in something, or rather a loss of that faith, leads to them being taken or falling for a vampire; and ultimately being turned into a vampire themselves.
Then, as Rice gets into the meat of the subject, we see the characters start to question things. After a period of freedom from those ideals and worldly limitations that had held them before, the question of morality and faith in what they lost resurface and they start searching for an answer to the age old question of, what is life really all about and, am I evil or good? Their lives end up being an eternal search for meaning and purpose. Something that they were robbed of when they lost their faith. The characters are now just as bound in their lack of faith, their lack of meaning and purpose, as well as a lack of a way to know if they are good or evil, as they ever were by their human limitations.
Interview With a Vampire is Louis’s journey through his questioning of life and his moral make up, and by the end of the novel, a lot has happened, and it sort of feels like it has defeated Louis. Yet there is still hope, there is always hope for a better tomorrow. It is the driving force of all of humanity.
In the end I feel like these novels are less of simply a good read about the secret dark places of the world, but rather about life. For all the fact that they are now no longer human, the characters are everything that we are. Just more.
The moral questions that lurk in their thoughts are ones that humans have been asking since the first person had a moment to sit and have a good long think. Their reactions, their wants, love, knowledge, purpose, a reason why the things that happen, happen. Even though they are often the thing that happens!
This is not to say (for those that want a good adventure with vampires) that the book does not have this in spades either. There is a surprising amount of action, emotional ups and downs and close calls for all involved. There are also plots, plans and politics!
All in all it is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone, even people who don’t like vampires because these vampires are… different. Also the questions explored in this novel are well worth reading if you are interested in the philosophical part of life. It is a fascinating take on… well faith and a lack there of, making this more than just an early version of the vampire books you get today.
This is what those books wish they could be, like mortal men who wish they were superheros.