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Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice

By (Genny now just) Rusty | Books | September 3, 2009 |

By (Genny now just) Rusty | Books | September 3, 2009 |

This is the first Anne Rice novel that I’ve read, and I was annoyed because our library was out of Interview With The Vampire, which I wanted to start with. However, after reading The Tale of the Body Thief I think I would have come to the same conclusion either way, which is that I simply don’t care for this kind of novel. I found it to be overly introspective and the characters excessively self pitying. It was like listening to a bunch of egomaniacs whine about how wonderful their life was and how handsome they are and wasn’t that simply tragic? Luckily, there was some amount of action in this book, but it was always between bouts of withering reflections on the self.

Perhaps I should say that rather than not liking the novel, I just don’t like Lestat. He spends the first half of the novel extolling all the reasons that his life as a basically immortal vampire who has access to unimaginable wealth is so terribly boring and mundane. Then he meets up with the titular Body Thief, a mortal who has perfected the art of transferring his spirit from one body to another with one catch, that body’s spirit must necessarily leave it’s own body first. Lestat eagerly agrees to trade bodies with this person, despite the well reasoned warnings from his friends. It takes Lestat about five minutes in a human body to realize several things; 1. Maybe it’s not a great idea to trade bodies with someone who all evidence suggests is nothing more than a career criminal with a nifty trick 2. Being human kind of sucks, what with the pain and the sub-par senses and hunger and whatnot and 3. I’m a whiny asshole who’s going to whine about numbers 1 and 2 despite the fact that I’m allegedly soooooo smart and could’ve figured this shit out by myself in like a nanosecond.

Then we get into the part of the novel that actually involves some action, where Lestat and his mortal friend David track down the Body Thief to force a switch back. The action is, inevitably, interrupted several times for Lestat to talk about feelings a lot, some more, again, but finally Lestat gets his own god-like (his words, not mine) body back. And then the book ends, right? WRONG. More whining, more reflection, more “oh the days gone by were so much better,” more spending of vast sums of money without a second thought. At the very end Lestat commits what I would have thought was an unforgivable act, Rice’s attempt to prove that all his wallowing about being a ‘demon’ or an ‘evil creature’ was actually true. But no, the other characters forgive him, because he’s Lestat and you just have to love him, right?

The Tale of the Body Thief is the fourth book in the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I found it to be whiny and frustrating but perhaps habitual readers of Anne Rice can tell me how I’m looking at it the wrong way. So far the only vampires I like are the Dead Before Dark vampires and even then Bill Compton is a little emo for my tastes.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Genny (now just Rusty)’s review, check her blog, Rusty’s Ventures.

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