Thursday, January 2, 2014

A bunch of books I read last year that I am totally going to write about here one day I promise.

So the second-last time I posted here, almost a year ago, I wrote that one of my New Years resolutions was to read less books & do more work & other stuff & that clearly didn't go very well because Goodreads has kindly informed me that I read sixty books in 2013* which is quite a lot considering I also started writing one & editing another & I had a baby in April & there aren't actually sixty weeks in a year. Yay me?

*Or fifty-nine, with one read twice, comprising of: thirty-seven YA (or thirty-six with one read twice), ten MG/children’s, seven sci-fi /fantasy, two literary, one crime, one chick lit, one non-fiction, one graphic novel. Fifteen were re-reads, six were read because I had to teach a class on them, and three were so bad I almost didn’t finish them.

Here is my favourite book of the year: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s so good I read it twice. Did I mention I read it twice? I’m going to go read it again.

Here is a list of books now added to my all-time favourites:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (I read it twice, you know)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Code Name Verity by Elisabeth Wein
Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margot Lanagan
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Here is a list of other 2013 favourites:
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Okay, now all I have to do is write a review for each of these to convince you all that you need to read them too. If only I had some way of making some kind of plan to do so - a resolution, one might say - & post more here…

In the (highly unlikely I swear) event that this doesn't happen, you can also find me on Twitter (@moirawithatrema) & Tumblr (ecritureacreature) where I write about books & poems & little snippits of life with a great deal more regularity than I do here.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Links & Things

A small collection of links found across the internet this week(ish), because they've all been copy-pasted to my desktop stickynotes & it's starting to look very cluttered around here.

The Daily Mail wrote an infuriating piece on the "rise of sick-lit" in YA which is sort of like that article in the Wall Street Journal two years ago, only it's the Daily Mail so we don't have to take it as seriously. There have been some great responses to the piece, though, most notably in The Guardian, although John Green's only tweet on the subject wins the Best Reaction award by a mile:

The direct link to the Daily Mail song is here, but I warn you, if you click on it it'll be in your head for the rest of the day.

Speaking of John Green, the Fault in Our Stars book tour is coming to Dublin! Tickets are available here for the RDS concert hall on the 6th of February.

Filmmaker D. Christopher Salmon is producing a short film based on one of my favourite Neil Gaiman short stories The Price. A mock-up of the animation can be watched here. I can't wait to see the finished film, but at the same time I'm sort of in love with the storyboard as it is.

Kirsten Dunst totally wins the Celebrities Who Once Posed for Books Covers competition. (What do you mean it's not a competition?)

The Guardian introduces the Lousy Book Covers Tumblr, & it's kind of hilarious.

The School Library Journal blog A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy asks an interesting question: how many YA books can you think of that feature menstruation? How many female heroes trek through dystopian wildernesses for months without seeming to have to worry about buying tampons? If Edward can smell Bella's blood in Twilight then... I should probably just cut this sentence short, shouldn't I? I think it's for the best.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

You know how some people make new years resolutions like: Read Fifty Books in One Year? Well, I think one that better applies to me is: Read Less Books & Do More Work & Other Stuff because by January 3rd I'd already read three books. But that's not entirely my fault. Cassandra Clare shares a large part of the blame.

Here is what the back cover of City of Bones has to say for itself:

When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings.
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons - and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Clary Fray is a fifteen-year-old artist (because YA heroines always want to be artists or writers when they grow up & never accountants or publicists or occupational therapists*) whose world is turned upside-down when she realises she can see through the glamour that demons & other Downworlders use to become invisible to humans ("mundanes": the new muggles). Then her mother disappears & Clary & her nerdy, bespectacled best friend Simon team up with teenage Shadowhunters Jace, Isabelle & Alec, to find out where she is.

Clary soon discovers that her mother was once a Shadowhunter herself, & that all of Clary's early memories of the demon world have been erased. Also, serious Bad Guy Valentine, an evil ex-Shadowhunter previously presumed dead, wants to summon demons to help him eliminate any Shadowhunters who don't agree with his Death Eater-ish beliefs.

Evil supernatural purists, mysterious tattoos, demons, werewolves & vampires, a beautiful boy with a serious attitude problem: City of Bones (along with its sequels, City of Ashes & City of Glass) sounds like your typical young adult urban fantasy. Which it is. Only not all typical young adult urban fantasy is this addictive. Here's what really worked for me about this series:

1. Good prose. One of the reasons this series is so easy to read is because it's just really well written. The descriptions are gorgeous, the dialogue is snappy & often very funny & the pace is perfect. I could hardly put it down (I read an entire trilogy in three days, of course I could hardly put it down).

2. Good stock characters. In some ways Clary is like every other YA urban fantasy heroine (she's artsy, she thinks herself plain but boys love her even if she doesn't realise they do, she ends up with unusual powers), only somehow, probably related to point 1, she's very likeable & not annoying in the slightest. She's also maybe more fleshed-out than the other heroines I'm thinking of: she's kind of nerdy, a little flighty & quite short-tempered, which makes for a pretty realistic supernatural teenager.

Similarly, Jace is the Regulation Hottie. He's a bad boy with an attitude problem & a blatant disregard for authority who functions as one-third of the love triangle that always seems to involve a "plain" girl, her nerdy but wise-cracking best friend & an aloof & mysterious new boy. But Jace isn't idealised in the way that some Regulation Hotties are (*cough*Edward*cough*); he has a carefully & sensitively crafted backstory to his brooding & can get pretty exasperating (which also makes for a pretty realistic supernatural teenager). So while I'm generally always on Team Best Friend when it comes to love triangles, I have to admit that the chemistry between Clary & Jace can get pretty electric.

Some of the secondary characters include sexy, ass-kicking Shadowhunter Isabelle & her moody, closeted brother Alec; Dungeons-&-Dragons-playing, curly-haired best friend Simon; sarcastic, glittery warlock Magnus Bane; & charismatic but manipulative bad guy Valentine. All pretty standard characters (except Magnus, perhaps, who is too awesome to be counted as a stock character) but all excellently written, engaging & complex. This is how all YA fantasy characters should be written.

3. Forbidden love. I LOVE forbidden love. Tortured romance is so much more satisfying than regular romance, & although this series does action & adventure really well, it often feels like the romantic tension is leading the plot. And with the intensity of the will they/ won't they/ can they/ can't they, that's hardly surprising.

4. ALL the supernatural creatures! If you like vampires & werewolves & faeries & warlocks & angels & demons & you just don't know which to chose, this series has 'em all. Now I have to admit I'm not a big fan of angels. Angels in fiction (especially in YA) tend to make me roll my eyes a lot (unless they belong to Philip Pullman or Neil Gaiman). In the Mortal Instruments series Shadowhunters are humans with distant angel ancestors, & there's a fair amount of angel lore to go with all the demon stuff (while somehow avoiding discussing if any particular god exists within the word of the series) which I suppose makes sense, but I'm not particularly fond of it. The demons of the series are great, however, sort of like Buffy demons only with less of the kitten-eating & more of the human-ribcage-cracking.

Actually, the Mortal Instruments series reads sort of like a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Harry Potter. (These are a few of my favourite things...) It's good, reliable young adult fantasy & I highly recommend it.

*It used to vaguely annoy me that so many characters in novels want to be or become artists & writers until I realised that for every character who achieves their childhood dream of becoming a writer, there is an author writing these characters who achieved the very same dream.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh! The Places You'll Go!

So. I tend to be a little all-over-the-place with blogs (unlike in real life, where I am a beacon of steadfast progress & constant organisation) which is why it's been a while since I've written. But there are other reasons too, & I hope that by listing them I'll be more inclined to write here again, because it's a nice little space of internet for me to rant about thin-ideal messages in young adult vampire fiction or to rave about the new dystopian books I've been reading or to make fun of The Vampire Diaries, cause that's one of my favourite pastimes.

The first thing that happened was that I got Thesis Block for a few months. Thesis Block is a terrible affliction I'm sure many of you are familiar with. It's the second cousin twice removed of Writer's Block, & only applies to the writing of (& researching of, & reading for, & confidence in) a dissertation or thesis. It was rather unpleasant & I'm very happy to say that it's sorted itself out & I'm back to alternating clacking away on the laptop & mashing my forehead against the keys, which is, I gather, pretty much what writing a PhD is all about.

I tend not to talk about the more difficult parts of thesis writing, & I don't really know why. (Apart from the fact that if you Google my name you can find this blog. Hello, prospective employers, examiners, landlords, bankers! Hello mom!) Maybe it's because writing a thesis can be a very solitary activity, & since, academically at least, I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf (lone werewolf?) I sometimes forget that I'm not the Only Person Ever Who Has Ever Felt Like This Ever. It's nice to occasionally talk to other people in the same rockety boat, who also go through those weekly Oh My God What Am I Doing With My Life crises ("Can't I just run away & live on a barge like the Sylvanian Family toys? I just want to, I dunno, go fishing & raise dirty, barefoot children who can swim really well.") before realising yet again that yes, this is what we want to be doing.

The second thing that happened was that my thesis changed direction ever so slightly (which may have thrown me off-balance momentarily). I'm now going to be concentrating solely on young adult fiction texts, rather than anything with a teenage vampire character (not that there's actually much overlap, which is interesting). Which means that I now don't technically have to watch The Vampire Diaries for my research, which in turn means admitting that I actually like to watch it anyway. (Gasp!) So that's why I've gotten behind on recaps, & you know the way when you've fallen behind it's a lot harder to catch up...

The third thing that happened was that I suddenly realised that I'm getting married very soon & that there's actually a whole lot of organising that needs to happen before a wedding (who knew?) so I, & my wonderful team of minions helpers, have been doing a lot of calling & emailing & budgeting & sewing & cutting & planning & thinking, which is all very fun & time-consuming (apart from the budgeting, which is less fun than the rest).

So. There's my explanation for my absence. Now, to get back to The Vampire Diaries! I also have a bunch of books I want to review, & a lot of things I want to talk about, & a lot of links to link & all the thinks to think, but I should probably leave all that for another day, before I start sounding too much like a Dr Seuss book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Important Life Lessons & Klaus is Better than the Moon: The Vampire Diaries 3:9 Recap

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries:

Stefan craves blood! But mostly he craves loves Elena! So Evil English Viking Klaus turned off Stefan's humanity so now he doesn't love anyone! Oh, and also, Klaus once killed his mother & lied to his sister so his father Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire wants to kill him, so he (Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire) is banding up with Damon, who craves loves Elena too but who mostly just wants to save Stefan from being a No-Humanity Off the Rails Ripper with the power of bromance! Got that? No, me neither.

Currently, on The Vampire Diaries, Stefan, Damon, Elena & Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire have constructed a Super Duper Foolproof Plan. The plan is this: Stefan phones Klaus to tell him his father's dead, Klaus comes back to Mystic Falls, Stefan kills Klaus. Easy, right? But what happens when he asks to see the body? Um, well...

As it turns out, Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire is totes game for a bit of death. He understands how this show works; he knows that if Elena stabs him with the special Original Vampire Killing Dagger chances are he'll come back from the (un)dead, because *drum roll*

Life Lesson #1 (aka the most important Life Lesson of all): Nobody ever actually dies in this show.

Also, he has in his possession a stake made from the wood of the plot point white oak tree & wants to kill Klaus with it himself.

So, Elena kills Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire, Stefan calls Klaus & then Elena removes the dagger & Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire comes back to life, begging the question of why he had to die in the first place if it wasn't so that Klaus could see his dead body. But anyway.

Rebekah & Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire-who-just-got-staked-for-no-reason have a little father-daughter bonding time because Rebekah's still a little unhappy that her father destroyed her family by making them all vampires. But I'm sure she's just overreacting.

Meanwhile, in the more important parts of Mystic Falls, it's almost Homecoming! And Elena has nothing to wear! And Bonnie doesn't have a date! This is even more tragic than all the vampire stuff!

Stefan has nothing to wear either. He barges in demanding to borrow clothes from his brother because he may be 162 years old but goddamnit it's HOMECOMING & he needs a tie. Sheesh. Then Elena gets mad because he says she'll prolly get murdered by the homecoming queen which means he thinks she won't be homecoming queen. Poor Elena.

Meanwhile, at the school, Caroline & Tyler the werejerkpire are getting ready for the dance because Caroline never saw a committee she didn't want to lead. She asks Tyler to pass her the glue gun.

Life Lesson #2: Werepires are closet crafters.

Tyler tells Caroline that Rebekah is going to the dance with Matt. This makes Caroline very angry because Matt is a Lovely Innocent Person and Rebekah is a Blood Slut. Mind your manners, Caroline! (I feel like I'm turning into Effie Trinket.)

(My MS Paint skills just get better & better.)

Tyler tells Caroline that Matt is not in fact a Lovely Innocent Person but A Guy which means it's totes okay to objectify Rebekah cause Matt's only going to the dance with her because she's hot. When this makes Caroline even angrier, Tyler points out that he's painting a bus with glitter for the homecoming dance so he's clearly a women's rights champion.

Life Lesson #3: It's completely fine to be a massive sexist dick, so long as you have glitter & a glue gun to prove you're totally "sired" to your girlfriend. That sound you hear is my teeth grinding.

Meanwhile, at the Salvatore mansion, Rebekah is feeling all the feelings. She's super excited because it's her first high school dance & she wants to look perfect.

Life Lesson #4: Homecoming is just as important to 1,000-year-olds as it is to 17-year-olds.

But she's also sad about Stefan killing Klaus, because he's her brother. That's a little more understandable than the Homecoming thing. Although he did lock her in a coffin for sixty years...

Anyway, her nervous excitement wins out over her sadness at her brother's impending death (although she does kindly advise Elena not to trust any member of her Original Vampire family). So Elena gives her the Magical Witchy Necklace that belonged to Rebekah's mom, & then she stabs her with the magic dagger.

Elena goes & tells Damon that she's the Weak Link in the Super Duper Foolproof Plan because she cares too much & she's sorry for what she did. Damon tells her that the whole stabbing-Rebekah-in-the-back thing was very Katherine of her, which doesn't help, but then he reminds her that Rebekah isn't actually dead, which does. Someone remind me what the point of an Original Vampire Killing Dagger is when said dagger doesn't ever actually kill?

Meanwhile, at the high school, the Worst Thing Ever has happened: Homecoming's been cancelled! The gym is flooded! Caroline is devastated! But Tyler the Sensitive Werejerkpire steps in to save the day! He says they can have the dance at his house!

Back at the Salvatore mansion, Matt shows up to take Rebekah to the dance, not knowing that she's currently all grey & veiny on the floor of her bedroom. Elena offers herself as backup date.

Music-festival atmosphere, designer clothes, lantern-lit garden, yep, this looks like an impromptu homecoming dance transferred hastily to a student's back garden all right... Caroline is super annoyed that Tyler has thrown a better Homecoming than she'd originally planned in less than an hour but what she doesn't know, & what Tyler tells Stefan, is that he's not the one organising this party, it's Klaus. And by the way, it's not a party. It's a wake. DUN DUN DUNNNN.

Life Lesson #5: Rock band members are hairy.

So now that Klaus has a hairy band & a whole heap of teenagers at his father's funeral he'd kinda like to see the body whose death he's celebrating. But instead of asking to be brought to the body, he commands Stefan to bring his father outside! Oh cunning Klaus, always one step ahead. When Stefan asks what's in it for him, Klaus promises that when he is sure his father is dead, he will lift the compulsion & Stefan can have his freedom back.

Back at the Salvatore mansion, Damon & Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire are having a very civilised heart-to-heart between enemies where Damon doesn't offer Michael a whiskey because he drinks from vampires but Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire explains that he's kind of like the Robin Hood of vampires - he only feeds from the predator. But unlike Robin Hood he doesn't give the bad guys' blood to the needy, cause that'd be gross. Not that drinking blood in general isn't gross. And not that Robin Hood stole blood. I'll shut up now.

Stefan interrupts to say that Klaus wants Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire's body at Tyler's & won't be coming to the house. He also wants to know what Damon's plan is but Damon says his plan doesn't involve Stefan & then Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire bites Stefan & he collapses! Layers upon layers! Who is deceiving who? The suspense is killing me!

This is not the first time I've thought that Stefan's facial expressions suggest liking pain a little too much...

Back at the party, Klaus tells Tyler he's invited all his charming werepire friends to protect him should anyone, oh I dunno, show up unexpectedly & try to kill him. Tyler goes to Caroline first with this information, which is foolish because no one ever tells the blonde vampire anything. And even if she did know something, she wouldn't tell Tyler because he's a jerkface who is sired to Klaus. So Tyler totally proves that he can be trusted by syringing Caroline in the neck.

Is someone going to get stabbed at the end of every scene this episode? There won't be any characters left at the party.

Back outside, the Hairy Rock Band are wearing vampire capes & Klaus has found Elena. He explains that people have been after him for a thousand years, so he's kinda paranoid at this point & whatever complicated stabby plan they've concocted won't work because he's like a million steps ahead so there. Well, you know what they say, Klaus, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

Upstairs, Tyler gets Matt to take Caroline's unconscious body out of the house before Things Get Dangerous. Using irrefutable abusive dude logic he explains to Matt that he's only hurting her to keep her safe. Matt may buy that, but I sure don't.

Downstairs, Damon kills the doorman who will only let hybrids into the house, then starts a vampire/werepire fight with Tyler for having the werepires there in the first place. But before any more stabbing can happen, they both break apart with severe headaches!

Bonnie: she has the Power of Migraine. 

Which was all part of this rather convoluted plan, we discover as Tyler collapses.

Meanwhile, Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire is ready to have a nice little chat with his son. He shows up politely at the front door but for some reason he can't get inside even though Klaus jokingly invites him in? So Michael sort of just stands on the porch insulting his son for a good ten minutes.

Finally, Klaus gets tired of being called a coward & gets his small army of werepires to surround his father to kill him. But Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire is such a badass he compels the vampire parts of the werepires so they'll follow his orders instead of Klaus's, & then he produces Elena from somewhere or other & threatens to kill her! Which'll kill all the werepires because Elena's the Doppleganger & her blood is the key to making werepires!

But Michael isn't done insulting Klaus yet. With his newly-compelled army of werepires around him & Elena caught in a headlock, he tells his son that no one cares about him or about whether he lives or dies, which makes Klaus Very Sad.

And then Klaus calls his dad's bluff, so Michael stabs Elena who turns out to have been Katherine all along! Damon stabs Klaus, Stefan tries to stop him, Damon misses, Klaus grabs the stake & stabs Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire & I swear if I had a cent for every time someone got stabbed this episode I'd be able to buy a really big bag of penny sweets.

And then Michael the Vampire-Hunting Vampire dies rather dramatically which would suggest that, despite this show's track record, he isn't coming back.

Klaus stares meaningfully into Stefan's eyes & grants him his freedom.

A little later, in Caroline's house, Caroline wakes up to find Tyler watching over her because he's so loving & sensitive & totally not jerkish at all. He explains that he poisoned her for her own good. I'm glad that Caroline gives out to him for not having, you know, maybe like asked her to leave because things were gonna get dangerous rather than stabbing her in the neck, but I'm less impressed that she then totally buys Tyler's excuse that she would never have left her friends to fight Klaus alone. I think Tyler has forgotten that Caroline is a freakin vampire who is just as strong as the others who stayed & who could TOTALLY KICK HIS ASS. AND SHE SHOULD.

Then Caroline says she's not sure she can be with Tyler because his every move is being controlled by an evil English Viking werepire & Tyler whinges a bit about how when he was just a werewolf the moon controlled him & now that he's a werepire Klaus controls him so actually it's okay because Klaus is better than the moon, or something, I don't know, I kinda zoned out because whenever Tyler comes on screen I just want to slap his stupid werepire face. Anyway, he doesn't want Caroline to turn her back on him after everything they've been through but Caroline doesn't answer (adda girl, Caroline) so he storms out.

Back at the Salvatore mansion, Damon is furious that the plan didn't work even though they thought they'd anticipated all of Klaus' moves. Elena tells him that they'll be okay because they can get through it & Damon says they're never gonna get Stefan back & Elena tells him that in that case they'll just have to let him go. It's a very romantic almost-kiss moment that is, as always, interrupted by a ringing phone.

Katherine is calling to say goodbye to Damon, who is thankful for her flying visit, but who doesn't know that she is on the road with Stefan! Turns out that the whole plan with Stefan stopping anyone from killing Klaus was all Katherine's idea! Because she really does love the Salvatore brothers! Also, she knows Klaus's secret!

When she was posing as Elena at the party Klaus told her that even when their sire is dead, hybrids have to follow their orders, & Klaus has ordered his whole army of werepires to kill Damon if he himself should die! So they can't kill Klaus without Damon dying!

So while everyone else was busy putting the Let's-Kill-Klaus plan into action, Katherine went to Stefan &, using the timeless power of bromance, convinced Stefan to dredge up enough humanity to save Damon's life. USE THE FORCE BROMANCE, LUKE! 

Plus, Katherine has Another Plan for which she needs Stefan's help. And that plan involves Stefan stealing all of Klaus's coffin-emprisoned family that he carts around everywhere with him in the back of a truck. Predictably, Klaus isn't too pleased...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Important Life Lessons & Ancient Viking Vampires: The Vampire Diaries 3:8 Recap

Previously on The Vampire Diaries, there are Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves under Mystic Falls, & in the  Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves there are Secret Prehistoric Viking Cave Paintings.

Currently, on The Vampire Diaries, Elena & Alaric explore the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves, amazed at how ancient everything is, Damon pulls pranks, because that's what vampires do best, everything is ancient, Elena glares at Damon, because that's what Elena does best, & did I mention how everything is ancient? Especially the Secret Prehistoric Viking Cave Paintings.

Life Lesson #1: Vikings: they are ancient.

As always, on The Vampire Diaries, Alaric knows everything because he is a high school history teacher. He explains to Damon & Elena that Secret Prehistoric Viking Cave Paintings tell a story. An ancient story. A story about werewolves. And Vikings.

Apparently, while the Lockwoods arrived in Mystic Falls with the infamous Founders in the 1860s, a tribe of Ancient Werewolves were here long before, carelessly graffiti-ing their names onto cave walls in runic Viking script. Names like: 

Ah yes, that famous Viking name, Rebekah.

Before Alaric can explain exactly how Rebekah is a Viking name, it's FLASHBACK TIME! We haven't had a good flashback in at least two episodes!

We find ourselves in the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves, in the ancient past. You can tell Rebekah was a rebel even before she became a vampire because she Wishes To Wield a Blade even though she's a woman & she graffiti-s on cave walls with a dagger. In this flashback, we also learn that Klaus & Rebekah are afraid of their father, & with good reason, because their father is none other than Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire! DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!

Allow me, at this juncture, to take issue with The Vampire Diaries' history. Now, I am not a history student & I am certainly not a history teacher like Alaric the Know-it-All, so I don't know much about anything not involving literary vampires that happened before 1985 (hey, if I wasn't born, it's ancient history). HOWEVER, I strongly suspect that the following Life Lessons are not necessarily endorsed by Actual History Lessons. (And by strongly suspect I mean I have asked people who are more intelligent & knowledgeable than I am including but not limited to Wikipedia.)

Life Lesson #2: Contrary to popular belief, Vikings did actually form permanent settlements in the USA.

Life Lesson #3: In Virginia.

Life Lesson #4: Vikings were known for their prehistoric cave paintings.

Life Lesson #5: "Prehistoric," like "ancient," is a pretty loose term.

Life Lesson #6:  Elijah, Michael, Esther & Rebekah are all legitimate Viking names.

(Also, I've been spelling Rebecca wrong all this time. Sorry, Rebekah.)

Meanwhile, in the present day, Alaric studies the pictures he's taken of the Secret Prehistoric Viking Cave Paintings while Elena Buffys with Damon.

"Now, allow me to demonstrate what a vampire - not me, of course, just a random, hypothetical vampire - would do if you just held your neck a little bit more to the left."

Alaric's having some trouble with his Ancient Viking translations, so Elena decides to go straight to the source & ask Rebekah what her teenage cave artwork means. Rebekah, however, is much more interested in practising her cheerleading before homecoming than answering Elena's questions. However, she does reveal that she's spent 1000 years running from her father & that if Elena wakes him up everybody's doomed. Then she asks Elena to excuse her, because this 1000-plus-year-old evil Original Vampire has the serious need to cheerlead.

Life Lesson #7: It is perfectly natural for Ancient Viking Vampires with Jewish names to have English & Australian accents.

Life Lesson #8: You can never overdo the flashbacks.

In this flashback, Klaus & Elijah are swordfighting, there is a Random Adorable Child, & Rebekah has freakin beautiful hair & I am totally trying this style out next weekend.

So far it all seems like fun & games in Ancient Viking Camp, but we are about to learn that Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire DOESN'T LIKE FUN. (I'm beginning to understand why they locked him in a coffin for sixty years.) Teaching A Lesson swordfights ensue, which Klaus loses, quite spectacularly.

Back in the present day, Alaric is translating runes because of course Alaric speaks Ancient Viking.

Rebekah texts Elena to ask if she wants to hang out which makes Elena pretty happy because, as she says to Damon, she's ready to do a bit of Mean Girls-ing to break Rebekah & get her to tell them the truth. And while I appreciate that they point out that once a 1000 year old vampire joins the highschool cheerleading squad, we're operating under a whole different set of rules, I had to giggle every time Elena said the words Mean Girls Power Struggle.

(Every magazine should hire me to do their photoshopping.)

Meanwhile, in the dungeon jail cell, Damon decides to ignore the whole Lexie-detox Stefan-chained-to-a-chair plan, & instead he takes his brother out to the pub.

In Girlland, Rebekah now wants to be Elena's BFF. She meets Elena at the Salvatore mansion with loud pop music, champagne, & her own compelled private runway show & asks Elena to help her choose a dress for the homecoming dance.

Now, if there's one thing The Vampire Diaries does well it's compulsion scenes. We've spent the last few episodes learning how petty, shallow & immature Rebekah is, so that we almost think of her just as a pouty, spoiled teenage girl, but scenes like this one pretty neatly remind us of what happens when a pouty, spoiled teenage girl can do anything she damn wants. It's a chilling thought.

Anyway, so far Rebekah's totally winning the Mean Girl war because she can compel people, kill people & look amazing in a slinky prom dress. Also, she's got high shoes & drinks champagne during the day (yo ho yo ho, a vampire's life for me...).

Mean Girls Points: Rebekah 1, Elena 0.

Back at the house, Alaric is busy fatherfiguring at Bonnie about her boy troubles when he notices that the Magical Witchy Necklace has its own Ancient Viking Rune!

At the Salvatore mansion, Rebekah alternates snooping through Stefan's bedroom & giving us more flashbacks, in which she sort of explains the whole Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves thing by telling us that her Viking family were landowners in Europe who came to the New World via witchcraft to escape a plague but the New World was already populated by werewolves (& here we have yet another problematic Native-Americans-as-Werewolves subplot) so once a month the Vikings had to hide in caves & paint their diaries on the walls. So I guess that explains the cave paintings.

The necklace belonged to a witch (you can tell she's a witch because she's the only black Viking around) & Rebekah thinks it's pretty but the witch won't let her touch it. Also, the Random Adorable Child is Rebekah & Klaus's adorable brother. But oh no! One night, Adorable Brother & Klaus sneak out of the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves to look at the werewolves turn & Adorable Brother is attacked! All the Vikings want the witch to save him but she can't Upset the Balance of Nature & so he dies! And that makes the Vikings reeeeally angry.

Meanwhile, in A Grotty Bar Somewhere in Virginia, Damon & Stefan are drinking ("I'll have your finest Waitress Brew, preferably a blonde, twenty-five year old vintage") & doing a bit of brotherly bonding, which Stefan immediately sees through, because he may be Off The Rails, but he's not completely stupid. He wants Damon to give it a rest & leave him alone, but Damon's got a new Ripper-Detox plan, & it involves blood & alcohol, so I guess it isn't really a detox after all.

Back at the Salvatore mansion, Rebekah's a bit embarrassed at having shared such a personal flashback so she tries to tell Elena that Stefan's a horrible predatory creature & that vampires don't care about stupid human lives, but Elena, who's a lot more on the ball than usual this episode, points out that Rebekah herself seems to care a lot about homecoming dance for a horrible predatory creature who doesn't care about stupid human lives. Then Elena tells Rebekah to go compel herself a friend.

Mean Girl Score: Rebekah 1, Elena 1.

Accepting this as a fair point, Rebekah tells Elena a bit more of her story. After the Adorable Brother died, the Original Witch turned the entire family into vampires as a way of keeping them alive, but because Buffy didn't exist yet & nobody knew what vampires were, they didn't realise what a curse not being able to go out in sunlight was. To say nothing of the insatiable desire to eat your friends.

In MORE FLASHBACKS we learn that the Original Witch is in fact Esther, Rebekah's mother, but I think that The Vampire Diaries made a mistake: Esther is white & blonde & therefore can't be a witch, right? Be consistent, Vampire Diaries!

Anyway, the World's Only White Witch didn't become a vampire herself, but kindly made Magic Sunlight Rings so her family wouldn't burn up in the daytime, & helped the vampires to burn the plot point tree white oak tree because that's the only thing that can kill an Original Vampire.

Meanwhile, in A Grotty Bar Somewhere in Virginia, Damon dances on tables with girls in an effort to remind Stefan what freedom is so that he'll try to get out of Klaus's hold. Stefan isn't optimistic & says that Klaus can't be killed. But what's this? Someone disagrees? Someone in a rather dapper suit! It's Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire!

Suits you sir!

Meanwhile, in FLASHBACKS, we learn that Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire's greatest shame is Klaus the Werepire, because - gasp! - Esther once had an affair with a werewolf & that's how Klaus was born! Esther, who seems like a real charmer, disowned Klaus once Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire found out about his origins but Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire was not satisfied! So he killed the whole village! And then he killed Esther! By tearing her heart from her chest as Klaus watched! What a family. And after that, Klaus & Elijah & Rebekah vowed to stick together as one Always & Forever ROUSING MUSIC.

Life Lesson #9: Women, if you are unfaithful you will give birth to an Evil English Werepire, so choose your husbands carefully!

Elena wants to know why Always & Forever means Even After You Locked Me in a Coffin For Ninety Years but Rebekah explains that Klaus is her brother & she's immortal, so there's really no one else to love. So actually, poor Rebekah just wants a friend.

Mean Girl Score: Rebekah 1, Elena 2.

And then she adds that if Elena does anything to harm her brother, Rebekah will rip her apart.

Mean Girl Score: Rebekah 2, Elena 2.

Back in A Grotty Bar Somewhere in Virginia, Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire plunges his hand through Damon's chest & threatens to rip out his heart if Stefan doesn't tell him where Klaus is! But Stefan's compelled not to say! And anyway, he's EVIL now, so why would he care if Damon died? As it turns out, he's not ALL evil, because at the very last minute he finds a loophole: he can't tell Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire where Klaus is, but can lure Klaus back to Mystic Falls!

Meanwhile, back in Mystic Falls, Alaric & his Viking Rune Deciphering Post-Its have figured out the real story about the Original Vampires, & it's not the one Rebekah's been told. (Although it does seem silly to leave the whole story written on a cave wall where anyone with a post-it note can read it.)

Elena goes back to Rebekah's place (where Rebekah is drinking whiskey, because champagne is for the morning & whiskey's for the afternoon - man, I wish I could be an Original Viking Vampire) to explain what Alaric's post-it notes have discovered. According to the post-its, a werepire killed the original witch, & Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire is no werepire!

Klaus the Evil English Viking Werepire is so evil that he killed his own mother! And then he lied & said it was his father so Rebekah wouldn't hate him! Understandably, Rebekah has a hard time adjusting to this information. And what do you get when you upset a 1000 year old teenage vampire?

BLOODLUSTY STRANGLE ANGER, that's what! (Don't worry, I get that sometimes too, Rebekah.) But then, because I suspect that Evil Original Vampire Rebekah is gonna become a good guy now, she lets Elena go.

Meanwhile, in A Grotty Bar's Carpark Somewhere in Virginia, the Salvatore brothers are having a heart-to-heart. The heart-to-heart goes a little something like this:

DAMON: Aw, see now? You really do care.
STEFAN: I really don't.
DAMON: Careful now, your humanity's showing.
STEFAN: Hey, I'm totally badass & have no humanity. I don't care about you, or about anything, & when Klaus is dead I'll be free to go away from you & Elena & all the stupidheads & just pout by myself forever. So there.
DAMON: It's okay, bro, sometimes I have Feelings too.
STEFAN: Careful now, your humanity's showing.

(Damon wins the vampire fight because even when he's the Good Guy he's still a little bit badass.)

And now it's time for everyone's favourite Deep & Meaningful Emo Pop Song Closing Scene!

This week's song is all about being all alone & how nothing has changed & Rebekah cries by a roaring fire. Cut to Elena's house, where Damon has made himself comfortable on her bed while she was in the bathroom. Damon tells Elena what he's done & explains that Stefan's a bigger dick than ever, but now he's a dick that's on their side & the song is about wanting to be someone else instead. As expected, Elena's not as thrilled about that information as she could be, because she's thinking about Rebekah who is not a dick but is also on their side, & how she's just a girl who lost her mother too young & lets love consume her (Just like Elena, right? See what we did there?) & the song is instrumentally violinny & Very Sad & Elena talks about how there is no bond more important than the Bond Of Family. Then the song says something about being written on the wind & Elena tells Damon that Stefan won't be saved because he loves her, but because he loves Damon, because (& I'm paraphrasing here) BROMANCE IS STRONGER THAN LOVE. Then Elena & Damon lie romantically (& entirely chastely) in bed together & the song says that if it were me it'd have a little trust. I'm not too sure about that now, song, I mean, I don't see a post-emo-pop-song-closing-scene cliffhanger this episode. How do you expect me to trust when you change things around like this? Although I know there's one thing we can all have trust in. That's right: BROMANCE.

Life Lesson #10: Bromance: it's stronger than love.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Important Life Lessons & Even More Ghosts than Last Time: The Vampire Diaries 3:7 Recap

I have been a Very Bad Blogger & have missed a whole bunch of episodes of The Vampire Diaries which is clearly inexcusable so I just won't try to apologise. Instead, I propose some recaps! Lots of recaps! ALL the recaps! Here is what has been happening up to now in our favourite TV show about a girl who is a doppelgänger of an evil vampire who is in love with two vampire brothers who are both in love with the original doppelgänger girl & we're not quite sure which of them is supposed to be the Good Brother or the Bad Boy Brother in any given week. Also there are ghosts. And werepires. And witches who are all African-American because that makes sense. Actually, everything in this show makes perfect sense. Especially Viking names, as you will discover shortly.

When we left Mystic Falls many, many moons ago (too many moons ago), our loveable heroine Elena was in quite a pickle. Not only has her mopey vampire boyfriend Stefan gone Off the Rails & become a blood-drinking Ripper who is under the control of Evil English Klaus, who is a werepire, but her mopey boyfriend's charming & roguish brother Damon totally has the hots for her & isn't particularly subtle about it. But does she like him back? Or is she just not ready yet to admit that Stefan is Lost to Her Forever?

At the same time, Elena's little brother Jeremy (who is dating her best friend Bonnie, who is African-American & so therefore is a witch) has started seeing ghosts. Most importantly, he has started seeing the his staked-vampire-turned-ghost ex-girlfriends in the flesh! (Yes, he has more than one staked-vampire-turned-ghost ex-girlfriend. This is just that type of show.)

Also, Evil English Klaus (who is an Original Vampire as well as being evil, English, & a werepire) has an Evil English sister called Rebecca who is mostly evil in the sense that characters in Mean Girls are evil. Also, she is on the cheerleading squad, which is exactly where you'd expect a 1000 year-old Original Vampire to be. Evil English Klaus & Slightly Petty Rebecca are also in a pickle because they are running from Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire, who wants to hunt them. Because they're vampires. Katherine, the vampire of whom Elena is a doppelgänger (is that even grammatically correct?) has just released Michael the Vampire Hunting Vampire from his tomb, so Klaus & Rebecca are really in for it this time.

Oh & also also also, Elena's friend Caroline the Bossy Blond Vampire is going out with Tyler who used to be a jock & then became a werewolf & now has been turned into an Angry Jock Werepire by Klaus. Also also, Tyler's uncle Mason, who was a werewolf but then was killed by Damon & Alaric (who is the father figure of the show) is now a ghost & seems to delight in invisibly torturing Damon.

Got all that? Okay, let's race through this recap together because there are plenty more to come!

The episode starts with Damon being tortured for a while before cutting to yet another town event that has something to do with the founding fathers. Anna the staked-vampire-turned-ghost ex-girlfriend of Jeremy is still around, & looking a lot more like a staked-vampire-turned-ghost girlfriend than a staked-vampire-turned-ghost ex-girlfriend (thank the founders for the copy-paste tool). You know what, let's just call them ghostpires from now on, shall we?

Jeremy very subtly holds Anna's invisible hand in public. I know, Alaric, I feel the same way.

Bonnie learns that the ghosts being more visible than usual is All Her Fault & that losing her boyfriend to a dead girl is just one of the consequences of bring him back to life. Elena learns that in the past, every time Stefan went Off the Rails his best friend Lexie staged an intervention & made him flat-haired & broody again. But now Lexie is dead. If only we knew someone who could communicate with ghosts!

In other news, Matt is still Very Sad, Caroline is trying to set him up with Bonnie, Stefan quips a lot when he's evil, werewolf-turned-ghost (wereghost?) Mason is still pretty pissed off that Damon & Alaric killed him that one time, & Bonnie & Caroline are trying to find a way to make the ghosts go back to being invisible presences that can see living people at all times (like, even in the toilet) but can't communicate with them & just go around being all stalkery & invisible & (understandably) rather depressed.

Life Lesson #1: When you die, it really sucks.

Life Lesson #2: The only private places to do spells are abandoned haunted buildings.

Of course.

So while Bonnie & Caroline are invoking the power of the 100 dead witches Bonnie's dead witch grandmother, Jeremy & Anna OMG KISS.

Life Lesson #3: It's totes not cheating if the other girl's dead.

Bonnie & her grandmother then proceed to underline what I've said about this show from the beginning (i.e. NOBODY EVER STAYS DEAD IN THIS GODDAMN SHOW) by bringing ALL THE GHOSTS back to life. ALL OF THEM!

Luckily, one of those ALL THE GHOSTS is Lexie, whose first order of business as a now-corporeal ghostpire is to give Stefan a lecture about how terribly Off the Rails he is. And when he acts all Bad Boyish & tells her he doesn't care, Lexie smashes his face into a car window. Cause that's the only way to get through to addicts.

Lexie: she is the badassest.

Meanwhile, in the creepy abandoned building, Grams tells us that everything is all Bonnie's fault because when she brought Jeremy back from the dead she left The Gates open & then all the cows ghosts got out. How does Grams know all this? Because

Life Lesson #4: Witches don't let a little thing like death stop them from gossiping.

Naturally, though, there is a way to close The Gates. Can you guess what it is? That's right! It's Elena's Magic Witchy Necklace that Stefan gave her when he was a Good Guy & that belonged to Rebecca before that & before Rebecca had it it belonged to the Original Witch. Bonnie must now destroy the necklace, but with Lexie about to start Elena on the Stefan-Ripper Detox Crash Course, Elena doesn't want to close the gates any more.

Meanwhile, Mason, unlike Lexie, has got his priorities straight. His first order of business as a now-corporeal wereghost is to go to the pub. Turns out, he doesn't want revenge against Alaric & Damon, he just wants to drink. And to help our heroes find a weapon that can kill Klaus so that his newly werepired nephew can break free from Klaus's control. Oh, & he also wants Damon to apologise for having killed him. Which Damon does. Adorably.

That creepy dungeon cell under the Mystic Falls jail really does get its uses, doesn't it? This episode, it is the setting for Elena & Lexie's ghostpire intervention.

In which we learn that Lexie is so badass she can use ONLY HER EYES

To make Stefan do this:

(Elena takes detailed notes.)

Lexie's Sexy Eyes can also make Stefan believe he has been starving of blood for about three months. Hallucinations & high jinks ensue.

Meanwhile, in the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves underneath the town (yes, you did just read that right), Mason & Damon may have found a clue to the whereabouts of the weapon that can kill Klaus.

At the same time, Caroline tells Bonnie that her boyfriend's been cheating on her with his ghostpire ex-girlfriend, Lexie starts to torture Stefan as part of the intervention but Elena turns & runs because she clearly doesn't have what it takes to put a Ripper back on the straight & narrow path, & a whole bunch of ghostpires turn up at the town celebrations & start killing members of the founding families.

I'm surprised there are any of them left at this stage.

Unfortunately, the Magic Witchy Necklace is missing, so there's no way to make the founder-killing ghostpires go away. Did Anna steal the necklace? Let's have a look at her motivations:
  • According to The Vampire Diaries, when you die you do not a) simply cease existing, or b) go to some kind of heaven. Instead you hang around, stalking the people you love who are still living because there's nothing else to do. You can see living people but you can't see other ghosts, & no one can see you, so you're horribly alone & lonely & afraid all the time. Isn't that nice?
  • Anna is still in love with Jeremy, & he can see her & now kiss her. (Anna likes kisses.) When she was properly dead, she didn't get any kisses. Or any interaction of any kind.
  • Anna doesn't know where her mother is, if she's Moved On, or if she is just as lonely & scared as Anna herself is. Anna would like to know where her mother is.
  • But Anna knows how much havoc Vicki the other ghostpire ex-girlfriend wreaked when she became visible a few episodes ago, & she knows how dangerous it is for all the humans (including Jeremy) to have The Gates open for so long, because a lot of Evil Things can come through The Gates & if the Balance of Life & Death isn't upheld it could lead to a lot of disaster & destruction & other such unpleasant things, including but not limited to The End of the World As We Know It.

So what do you think, did Anna steal the necklace?

Of course Anna stole the necklace.

Elena lectures Anna on letting Jeremy go, Anna returns the necklace, the ghostpires run around attacking people & somewhere in the midst of all of this Caroline finds the time to be completely awesome & single-handedly save Mrs Lockwood from impending death. Go Caroline!

Jeremy & Anna say their goodbyes, Jeremy gives Bonnie the necklace, & Elena tells Lexie she's out of time because the necklace is about to be destroyed. In an effort to reconnect him with his humanity, Lexie reminds Stefan that the necklace has always represented hope for him. Stefan thinks it's pretty ironic that while that's true, & it could be the key to de-Ripperfying him, the necklace in question is about to be blown into pieces.

And now it's time for everyone's favourite Deep & Meaningful emo pop-song closing scene!

This week's song seems to be about standing outside & Bonnie & her ghost grandmother chant in Latin as the Magic Witchy Necklace burns. Cut to the party where Caroline beats up ALL THE GHOSTPIRES & the song says something about crowds & falling. Cut to the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves (into which Damon is not invited, I forgot to mention) where Mason holds up his light & says that he has Found Something & the song is all about giving me peace. Then he conveniently disappears before letting Damon know what he's seen. Cut to the dungeon where Lexie tells Elena that's Stefan's still in there & the song is all about giving me love. Elena tells Lexie she knows what to do now (I mean, I wouldn't mind learning that Sexy Eye Trick...) & Lexie disappears too. Cut to the town where a Very Sad Anna is walking away but looks up & sees her mother. They hug & disappear together & the song is about crying but not letting it show. Cut to the abandoned house where Grams tells Bonnie she is stronger than all of this & the song is about all the things you wanted to do but never did. Then Grams disappears too & everybody's crying & the song ends & we start on the weekly post-emo-pop-song-dramatic-montage cliffhanger scene.

Aaand it's a Beautiful Bromance scene! I love Beautiful Bromance scenes! Damon, who is still stuck in the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves but can't get further than a certain point because the Prehistoric Vikings never thought to let him in, has called Alaric to come help because, apart from Elena, Alaric is the only person he trusts. All together now, awwww. Alaric, however, doesn't trust Damon since Damon killed him that one time. In a rather epically adorable scene, Damon apologises to Alaric with the exact same words he used to apologise to Mason (only he means them this time). Then he shows Alaric his Flirty Face:

Meanwhile, Stefan wants to know what Elena's going to do now that Lexie & her Sexy Eyes have disappeared. Elena is not going to Give Up Hope but tells Stefan that if he doesn't find his humanity again he'll lose her forever because she has learned a lot from her little brother's ghostpire misadventures & refuses to love a ghost. Stefan ponders this, sweatily.

Then Elena locks him in the dungeon.

In the haunted house, Bonnie is Very Sad & (understandably) angry at Jeremy. But then there comes a strange noise from the fireplace! The fire flashes! The necklace reappears in the flames, completely whole! Even freakin necklaces don't stay dead in this show!

Back in the Secret Prehistoric Viking Caves, Alaric finds what Mason was looking at when he disappeared. The big secret to destroying Klaus forever is...

A cave painting of some horses??