The Idiot Learns to Read #10: Dracula

FINALLY!!

I can’t believe it took me so long to get through this book.  So many times I wanted to put it down but I forced myself to go on because I didn’t want to have two abandoned books under my belt.

Obviously, I didn’t enjoy the book.  The beginning quite hooked me but afterward it feel into an anticlimactic pit from which I could not escape.  I tried to trudge through it, then I put it down for a month only to punish myself by insisting that I pick it back up again.

There are many stories about vampires out there.  Most of us are aware of the legend of Dracula.  This is another one of those; maybe an original, I don’t know.  As much as I love vampires, I just couldn’t get into it.

It starts off with a young attorney visiting a client on behalf of his London-based firm.  He goes to Transylvania to see this client.  Little does he know that the client is a vampire.  The reader can guess, of course, because unusual things to start to happen.  The man exhibits superhuman strength.  He seems to have this ability to communicate with nocturnal beasts.  He doesn’t have a reflection in the mirror.  He doesn’t ever appear in the daylight.  He doesn’t eat.  So on and so forth.

I like this first part because the attorney (his name is Jonathan) catalogs his terror.  At first, he’s just mildly curious.  As stranger things begin to happen at this creepy castle in Transylvania, he becomes more and more afraid.  He even tries to write to his wife at home, but Count Dracula steals all of his letters, then all of his pen and paper.  Jonathan is effectively a prisoner in the castle until he manages a daring escape.  When he gets home, he tells his wife Mina of everything that happens, and that where my interest started to wane.

Count Dracula decides there is not enough fresh meat for him in Transylvania so he wants to go to London.  He gets on a ship and mysteriously kills most of the sailors, and then unleashes terror on the unsuspecting people of London and its suburbs, or whatever.  I just could not keep up with everything because of the way the story was written.

The story was written from the perspective of all the main characters.  It was a collection of diaries, journals, letters and memos written back and forth.  So every time you read someone else’s journal, you were reading from their perspective.  That’s what got so confusing because sometimes you would be reading the same thing over again but from somebody else’s point of view.  It just got old.  I started to regain my interest after Mina’s friend, Lucy was attacked by the vampire but after she died I fell off again and could never pick it back up.

I skimmed through most of the chapters because everything was extremely long winded.  Too much talking and not enough action.  A good book should have a healthy mix of description and dialogue.  Too much of either one and it’s a disaster.  The last seven chapters were devoted to the preparation of killing Count Dracula.  Okay, I understand he needs to die.  There’s certain precautions to take, but do we really need SEVEN WHOLE CHAPTERS?

And then the ending, everything just wrapped up neatly at the end.  It was disappointing.  I expected a lot more bloodshed since Dracula is so fiendish a creature.  It was a big let down.

I’m very glad to be finished with this novel.  Mr. Stoker, I give you a D- for your novel.  The only reason you didn’t fail altogether is because I actually like vampire stories.  You did get me interested in the beginning of the book but you failed to hold me through to the end.  I even started reading my next book while I was trying to finish this one up.  That’s how bad it was.

Next up is Willa Cather’s My Antonia.

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