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Lost SoulsLost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I think I’m 13 years too late for this novel. Looking back, it’s one of the ones that ‘got away’, fell off my book-dar when I was a moody, goth-chick with raging hormones and a healthy, morbid curiosity. Back in the days I liked my books dark, with seductive, raven-haired vampires. ‘Lost Souls’ would have been perfect for me then. But not anymore. I am happy to report that my reading preferences have changed dramatically, that I have outgrown the dark phase of ‘nobody understands me’ *mope-mope*. And thank god I did.

Because despite it being hailed as a ‘cult vampire classic’, the plot was completely lost on me. In fact, I think there isn’t really a plot at all. ‘Lost Souls’ is a story with a handful of characters whose paths collide with one another on a random basis. A bit like a car crash, or a hit-and-run accident. Reading this was a bit like me looking back through the years at my pre-pubescent self, and wondering how I ever evolved into the person I am now. Even though I read lots of novels like this back in the day, I discovered I could no longer relate to them. It felt like a very specific window to my previous ‘self’ was forever lost to me. And that’s a bit saddening, because it not only makes you feel old, but also (somehow) narrow-minded as well.

The novel hinges on events based in New Orleans and one Mardi Gras night a young girl strolls into a bar looking for ‘the vampires’. The bartender (one 400 year old vampire by the name of Christian *snickers*) tries to discourage said girl, but suddenly in barge three vamps (nasty ones) who immediately order bottles and bottles of Chartreuse (they drink copious amounts of the stuff throughout the novel) and begin mucking around. Girl sees vampires, goes over to them, offers herself up to pretty blonde vampire. Christian uncharacteristically again tries to do the decent thing but in the end gets seduced by the pretty blonde vampire too. In the end, despite all good intentions, all five end up have a massive orgy anyway…

Had enough yet? No, wait there’s more. The three bad vampires sling their hook as soon as the dirty deed is over and the girl later finds out she is pregnant. Great eh? No, not really. Because the stupid girl is going to die. All mothers of vampires apparently die during childbirth. Christian takes pity upon her and agrees to help her until she gives birth. However Christian doesn’t really know what to do with a screaming baby boy, so he names it ‘Nothing’ and leaves it outside a house hoping some humans can take care of it instead.

Everything up until that point actually makes sense, believe it or not. There is something taking shape and I was made to believe it would actually go somewhere. But it didn’t. Instead the plot becomes a muddy pool of mindless drugs, sex, gore, incest and road trips. Endless road trips. Everybody apparently is going ‘somewhere’ but no one ever reaches it. And all these characters meet up at some point or another on the road or when they are hitch-hiking.

Now in all honesty, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish this one. It was dull and boring. Credibility is an important factor of story-telling, even if it’s a supernatural/ fantasy novel, it has to make sense to the reader. There were moments when I believed Brite really didn’t know where her narrative was going. The novel reads like a glorified, teenage vampire fan fiction, which are mostly written purely for personal gratification with little regard for the readers’ needs. True, it has it’s moments. For instance there is some real elegance in her landscape descriptions, but it seems she had an obsession with Chartreuse, as it’s all the characters ever drink, and a fondness for making nearly all her characters sexually ambiguous.

For those who like their YA vampire fiction to be LGBT and over-the-top in the sex department, then you must read this. Unfortunately incestuous vampires are not my thing. But, if you are well over twenty and thinking about re-visiting some of the crazier books you read as a teenager (and this was one of them) then, not so great. Avoid like the plague. Or better, go get you some Anne Rice. She does it so much better.

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