on March 20, 2010
I have never been fond of vampires to begin with and I wasn't sure about buying "LOST SOULS" in the first place, but since I had a wonderful reading experience with " DRAWING BLOOD", I thought of trying Brite's first book which seemed to be very promising owing to the critics I've read on the internet. Well Let me tell you, the story was plain idiotic and downright childish. I remember reading somewhere in Brite's biography that she began writing at age 10 or so, I guess she must have penned "LOST SOULS" during her teenage days and probably purposed to target a specific young fan base that would relate to the depressed kids in this book, always portrayed as black-clad wrist-slitting social misfits, with dark eyeliner smudged around their eyes and piercings everywhere, they worship vampires and listen to heavy metal. That was just not my cup of tea. Some parts are erotic indeed, but also grotesque, it's vampires after all, so everything they do is just nasty. Molochai and Twig are one hell of an annoying pair, I was hoping they would die at the end, unfortunately they didn't, I hated their puerile way of acting, always giggling and making stupid jokes. Zillah was portrayed as a green-eyed beauty that everyone can't help but fall for. Shallow, irresponsible and cold-hearted, he has a dismal fate in the end. Nothing was quiet the lost soul the story revolves around, the kid just doesn't know where he belongs and Christian was a boring personage. What I loved the most about the book though, is this `bromance' ( as some may call it) going on between Steve and Ghost. Steve is definitely portrayed as a straight guy but the chemistry between him and Ghost feels very homoerotic in some parts. These two were my favourite characters out of the whole lot and therefore were about the only thing that kept me entertained throughout the whole book.
Be that as it may, I thought the way Rape and Incest are tackled in this story was quiet interesting, Brite doesn't condone it but doesn't make it look wrong either. I guess in a spirit of living in a vampire's world, anything goes because they're different creatures and they don't go by the same rules and morals as humans do and clearly that is the reason why the book is overloaded with perverted sexuality which the reader must have no negative judgement upon, otherwise the story will come off as provocative and vulgar for no reason.
All in all, if you're a teenager and you're questioning your sexuality and happen to like vampires all at the same time, then this is the ideal book for you. I for one, didn't like it for its juvenile vibe.
on April 3, 2004
I had heard several rave reviews about this novel so I read it and was disappointed. What you must keep in mind I am 29. I think had I read this book at 14 or so, I would have been enthralled with it.
It borrows liberally from superior works, most notably Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. There was a lot of extraneous expository writing that felt like a waste of time reading, overused adjectives (apparently everyone in Poppy Brite's world has "spidery" hands, smokes clove cigarettes, lives in proximity to kudzu trees). And of course it had the typical "let's kick some vampire ass" ending.
Lost Souls is almost entirely a landscape of young, beautiful, skinny, white males, mostly making out with each other or killing people in graphic detail. It just comes across more as titillation rather than trying to say something about the human condition or go beyond being entertainment in the same vein as rock videos. One reviewer mentioned it as being like fan-fiction, and I got that vibe as well. It also makes the fatal mistake of trying to make vampire rock stars, which is tantamount to trying to run a car on water instead of gas. It's a great idea if it could work, but alas, it never does.
The book also takes "Goth culture," for lack of a better term, a bit too seriously for it's own good. Besides the occasional sarcastic quip from Steve, the book doesn't acknowledge any of the complete absurdity of some of the situations described, the way a good "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode would. It is very much written for the serious, Marilyn Manson-listening, dressed-in-black set. It doesn't really try to transcend it's genre, so it's difficult to recommend such a book to anyone who doesn't fall into that category. Even then, I'm sure many self-proclaimed "Goths" would cringe at the thought of reading this.
That said, I will grudgingly give Brite some points for her additions/twists to the vampire myth (Mostly the pregnancy- vampire hybrid ideas - I can only hope they were of her own invention and I'm giving her credit justly) Ghost, I thought was particularly nicely rendered as a character. There were some interesting visual ideas (Christian as a roadside rose stand vendor comes to mind). I managed to make it to the end at least, and take the time to think enough about the book to give it a review, so I think that shows that I have a least a modicum of respect for it.
Bottom line- I wouldn't recommend it to readers older than 20-25, and who aren't already interested in vampire fiction.
on June 2, 2002
I had pretty high hopes for this book based on the Amazon reviews, but I was sadly disappointed.
By the time I finished it, I felt like I'd read large snatches of the novel 3 or more times as Poppy Z. Brite repeated descriptive section after section while the plot crawled. I grew tired of kudzu, weak Bauhaus references, sticky wine, and the many flavors of spit.
And that would lead to the other fault with the novel: goth lifestlye. To put it succinctly, dyed hair, thin bodies, Bauhaus and The Cure, razor wrist scars, liberal bisexuality, and eyeliner do not a goth make. It felt like the author had dabbled in the culture and picked up only the most superficial, banal aspects for the readership to connect with. The result? Shallow and stereotypical backdrops, which is a shame since the magical history of New Orleans and the gothic subculture deserves a richer treatment.
The novel is not all bad, but it required perseverance to finish it. She does a nice job touching on the wonderment of herbal magick and the childlike vulnerability of Ghost's personality. But the novel's few small heights are not worth the long flat plateau of the read.
Looking for a well-written, intelligent novel about the gothic underworld and their fascination with the underworld? I'm still looking too.
on April 5, 2001
I've come to the conclusion that when I struggle to finish a novel and find myself rereading parts in order to comprehend the material, that it's less the writing itself that gives me trouble and more the main characters in the story that do so: can I relate to them, do I care about what happens to them, and are they real? In the case of this novel, I most definitely did not have much in common with the homosexual vampires and cookie-cutter goth waifs that the tale revolves around, hence my boredom and inability to grasp what all the fuss is about concerning Lost Souls.
It seems like there might be some sort of goth/horror "clique" that revolves around Poppy Brite and Tanith Lee, maybe even John Shirley and Melanie Tem, and when such a thing exists, watch out--the reputation of their writings are apt to far exceed the quality that actually exists.
If I had read this novel while in highschool or junior high, I might have had a different outlook, but I doubt it; even at a much younger age, I had the ability to differentiate between a writer who's "telling the truth" and one who's trying to garner scene points from the greater horror/goth/coffeehouse community.
Sorry for not being too specific, but there's plenty of that here already--you can read a synopsis of the plot in about 75% of the reviews here, so I thought it'd be kind of refreshing to not spoil the story for someone who hasn't read it yet.
on March 19, 1999
Poppy Z. Brite has added nothing to the world of vampiric horror with this little number, which is sad, considering that she starts out with a few interesting characters: Christian, the antiquaited vampire with a soft heart; Ghost, the psychic rocker-wannabe; and Steve, the semi-abusive friend of Ghost. As for the all-too self-conciously clever named "Nothing"---didn't we ALL go through these "boo-hoo I don't belong" feelings back in junior high? And didn't you end up diddling your Vampire father in a mysterious black van too? As for Nothing's Vampire father Zillah--he's more laughable than anything, and about as "dangerous" as a drunk frat-rat at the MTV summer beach-house. Perhaps even worse, Brite's language is of the "typical" vampire nature: over-the-top romanticism about blood, a gratutious Goth soundtrack ala' Bauhaus and the Cure, hackneyed religious connotations forced into every sentence, etc. etc. Brite was much more ambitious with her follow-up, "Drawing Blood", and, therefore, considerably more sucessful in a writerly manner. Horror fans, shelf this one. My kid sister wrote it in her "Trent Reznor" phase of 8th grade. I wrote it in my "Christian Death" phase of 9th. When did YOU write YOUR version?
on May 25, 1998
I was alarmed to see how many people gave this book a 10. Poppy Z Brite is a good writer and I've found her books highly entertaining, but Lost Souls was lacking in many areas. I thought the story itself was well planned and at times her writing was exquisite, but then there were the stale, "can we get any more desperate to thrill" sections that I could barely stand to read. Every character seemed to have some sort of tragic past giving them a supreme power...ghost is psychic, ann is arty, nothing is a vampire, christain is old and sad...it just reads like pulp that an imaginative eigth grader would write. Even the secondary pointless characters like the crazy evangelist that likes to be sucked by little boys. Are there any relatively believable characters? well there is steve...I think I found myself connecting to him the best considering he was the most real, untortured alcoholic. For lack of another word, I also found the dialog rather "stupid" but I suppose that also stays with the theme. In all , its like reading one of those cheezy Fox vampire specials and if you want a Brite book there are many that are far superior.
on February 25, 2002
Although Ms. Brite redefines the vampire lore in her own unique way, this book seems to be carried from start to finish by the twisted nature of the relationship between it's characters. A quality read must include characters that you can identify with. Personally, I found it hard to relate myself to a culture of incestuousness and rampant homosexuality. Not to say that Vampires have to play by the rules of normal society, but this book leaves not a single character untouched by it's sicked amoral bite.
I was expecting something along the lines of the film "Near Dark". Unfortunatly this book is nothing of the sort. My recommendation is that for quality vampire reading, stick to Ann Rice. Sweet dreams princess.
on December 4, 1997
I'm not into Goth and I'm pretty sick of vampires, but I've heard so much about Poppy Brite and how much of a revolutionary writer she is that I've read all four of her books so far. Still, I wonder what it is I'm missing. None of her books have impressed me too much, but this particular story didn't captivate me at all. The events came together so perfectly and coincidentally that fate seemed to play a bigger role than the characters in the story. Ms. Brite's language is beautiful, and her images are stunning, but when it comes down to story (at least with this novel), she didn't put enough in to the book.
on January 14, 2000
I don't understand why this book was praised over. The characters (especially Nothing, Steve, and Anne) had no sense at all. You can't relate to any of them due their actions of stupidity all through-out the book. The only thing that gave this book substance was the vampires that followed Zillah around and the music that was mentioned. Other than that, how can this be a gothic novel? All it is, is an excuse for some sex fetish that people have and no creative way of expressing it. If you want twisted sex fetishes, read about the gay characters in a clive barker book! At least he's more inventive.
on September 16, 2003
I was disappointed. A lot of fanfare has surrounded this writer, and this book, most of which is undeserved. It may appeal to disenchanted "babybats", but anyone over twenty would probably cringe at Brite's clichéd descriptions of depressed goth teens with vampiric desires.