Demon in My View
I suppose I should preface this review with the disclaimer that I’m not very attracted to vampires. I don’t find them instrinsically fascinating, and I don’t normally read vampire novels. So I probably wouldn’t have read Demon in my View except for a newspaper article about the author, who was fifteen years old when she published her second novel. Curious to see what her writing was like, I picked up a copy.
The heroine of Demon in my View is Jessica Allodola, a misunderstood teenager who writes vampire novels under the pen name Ash Night. One day a sexy, mysterious vampire from one of her novels shows up–for Jessica’s novels are not fiction but fact, communicated to her by a weird psychic link. The vampire, Aubrey, initially intends to kill her so she’ll stop publishing secrets, but he soon begins to fall in love with her.
Hm. Do you think that the author might possibly have wanted the same thing to happen to her?
Now, it’s certainly possible that a novel written as wish-fulfillment might have great literary value. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Atwater-Rhodes’s prose is decent; though not extraordinary, it is above her age level. However, her plot and characters are nowhere near as good. Jessica is a moody teenager’s fantasy: stunningly gorgeous with “a body and a face to die for” and “well-toned muscles despite the fact that she rarely worked out.” Nevertheless, all the students at school hate her because of her ominous, part-vampiric aura. Her adoptive mother, Anne, is a flat and passive character; Jessica “had learned long before that they had nothing in common.” Poor Jessica is driven to retreat to her room with black curtains, black desk, and a bed with black sheets, comforter, and pillows. (Three guesses what color she always wears.) Demon in my View makes no effort to present the world and human relationships as they really are. Rather, it is a combination wish-fulfillment and pity-party that takes place in a world skewed and distorted to match the perceptions of an angst-ridden and rather self-centered teenager.
Unfortunately, the writing is not the worst part of this novel. The moral outlook is, quite frankly, apalling. Vampires are painted in clearly evil terms: they have absolutely no problem with killing people for food, even though they don’t need to kill to feed. Yet Jessica adores vampires; when she meets Dominique, a vampire hunter who has “murdered” many vampires, she feels undying hatred. Later she says, “I would rather be a vampire than risk being their prey.” Indeed, predators and prey–and power–are major themes in this novel. The vampires regard humans as prey, to be killed for any reason. Aubrey is attracted to Jessica because she is fearless and has “a predatory mind-set.” And one of Jessica’s reasons for being a vampire is “to never be prey again.”
Worse still, characters who espouse traditional ideas of goodness are portrayed as being weak. Caryn, a teenaged witch who tries to help Jessica, cannot fight Aubrey when he’s killing someone because “no one in her line had harmed another creature” (apparently, letting a creature die by neglect doesn’t count); and she writes a farewell letter to Jessica that is described as “rambling” and “maudlin.” Meanwhile the vampire hunter Dominique, who does fight to protect innocents, is portrayed as being no different from–or possibly worse than–the vampires she hunts. “If it’s a choice between you and them,” Jessica proclaims, “then I would choose the vampires any day. At least they don’t preach the morality of their killing.” Coming as it does right after a vampire murders Jessica’s adoptive mother, Anne, this statement is simply laughable.
Basically, the lesson of this book is: right and wrong are irrelevant (unless you kill sexy vampires, in which case you’re Evil), so you should just try to be as strong as possible. Needless to say, I do not recommend it.