Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Announcing a new feature: "Why I love him" (or her)

So, I know I haven't been back here since I totally rocked NaBloPoMo with my awesome daily posting. I've been working on a book that is interesting, but not compelling: the sort you enjoy while you're reading but won't move heaven and earth to spend time with. Then I realized that if I didn't post soon and innovate on my blog, I would've failed NaBloPoMo in the larger sense. Like the kid with the ability to memorize all the facts out of a history book but without the ability to analyze, extrapolate and make comparisons, I would've rocked the test only to fail the subject. Plus...I missed you, and missed my blog!

So, the idea behind this feature is simple. On my sidebar is a massive list of "Authors I love, guilty pleasures included." So, from time to time, I'm going to pick one and guessed it..."Why I love him (or her)".

Today, I pick V.C. Andrews. When I was in grade school, I was scared shitless of her books. I think it's because the movie version of Flowers in the Attic was marketed as a horror movie. (I finally saw it when I was in college. It's scary, all right, but not in the way the producers intended). I remember there was a girl in my math class, Melanie Tobias, who was working on If There Be Thorns (the second-to-last book in the FITA series). I used to look at her book all the time (it was more entertaining than math) and it made me feel afraid: the hints of mind control and evil possession freaked me out. I think I approached the series differently than most, though. By the time I'd gotten around to reading them, she'd gone back and written Garden of Shadows, a prequel to the series. Most prequels to anything are blatant money grabs and add little to the saga. This one actually made you empathize with someone who was portrayed thereafter as thoroughly evil and twisted. You understood what made the grandmother the way she was, and what fears and disappointments drove her. Would any reasonable person act the way she did over the course of the next two books? Probably not. But still, it lent humanity to her bizarre behavior.

After I finished the FITA series, I read the Dawn books, the Heaven books and her stand-alone novel My Sweet Audrina. They started to seem horribly derivative. Every girl had a dark secret and an evil relative (who usually knocks her up and then blames her for it). Every girl wound up a captive of some sort for a brief period of time. The girls generally started off with nothing and wound up rich through various quirks of fate, rarely through hard work and effort. There was always incest, often consensual. Blah blah blah.

I know that the V.C. Andrews books aren't particularly good. Although I re-read the FITA series from time to time, I haven't touched most of the rest since the first time I read them. So why does she have a place on my favorites list? I guess it's because of the way the books made me feel. Not only did they make me feel grown up, but they made me feel part of a community of readers. Most of the other stuff I gravitated towards, I couldn't really share with anyone except my best friend growing up. When I checked out a V.C Andrews book from the library, the library volunteer would often say "Oooohh, that's a really good one", or someone in line behind me would say "After you finish this series, you've gotta read the Dawn ones, they're even better." I knew they were trashy at the time, but they were totally absorbing. And that's "Why I Love V.C. Andrews."


momof3gr8kids said...

Glad to see you back! I never read any V.C. Andrews. The paperback covers always gave me the heebie jeebies.

Jan Tincher said...

It's interesting to note why another person likes a particular author. Especially when it's different than your viewpoint.
Keep it up!

Abby said...

The thing I remember most from the V.C. Andrews books were the covers - the main character's face was always in this cut-out circle in the front cover, followed by a spooky family picture on the second page. I often referred back to these pictures while reading the book to compare how I had envisioned the character to look like versus the publisher.

I agree that the Dawn and Heaven series were derivative but highly addictive nonetheless.