I’ve meant to talk about Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel for ages. Besides being an avid Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I don’t usually care for vampires. But I loved this book when I read it. It’s the first in her “Vampire Queen” series.
I’ve struggled to think about what books to talk about with respect to gender this month because, as I said last week, I don’t really know what we’re going for in terms of gender. I know that it’s important and everyone seems to be invested in the topic one way or another, but I can’t really tell who or what is “getting it right” in terms of gender presentation for our young readers.
That disclaimer aside, I can say that there are books where I find the gender presentation of one or all of the characters interesting. And maybe interesting is something to aim for because interesting means it’s showing a new way of doing gender, something worth looking at. So, let’s talk about Infinite Days.
Synopsis (from Publisher’s Weekly Review):
Maizel’s dark and dreamy debut reverses the vampire trend with a heroine whose heart’s desire is to regain her humanity and abandon her evil past. After more than 500 years as the queen of her English coven, perpetual 15-year-old Lenah finally has her chance to become human again when her vampire sire sacrifices himself for the necessary ritual. Determined to live her new days to the fullest before her coven finds and kills her for her betrayal, Lenah explores American teenage life at a boarding school in Massachusetts with best friend Tony and boyfriend Justin. Eventually discovered, abducted, and remade as a vampire, Lenah retains her soul and becomes something entirely new–a compassionate vampire with unexpected powers who can bridge the worlds. She returns to school and her friends, but the coven isn’t far behind, and they aren’t interested in mercy.
So, this book has the beautiful boyfriend. Two of them, in fact. The New England boarding school. The rampant heterosexual hormones. None of that is anything other than what you would expect. But Lenah, herself, is a fascinating character. Because she wants something with all of her being. And the desire for it is driving her mad. And she allows herself to become a monster because of it. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that nice girls don’t usually crave blood.
There are lots of books where girls act like/dress like/pretend to be boys. There are a few where the gender roles are oppositely reversed. But something I find interesting is when girls are very much girls but they are also very much themselves and they are awesome in their own specific, unique ways. That’s what Lenah Beaudonte is. She is beautiful and desirable and female and she is also very powerful and very much evil.
I think it’s impossible to have too many such protagonists in literature for young folks. Lenah is nuanced, specific, and very believable, which seems kind of remarkable. I mean, when was the last time you believed in a vampire? But this doesn’t surprise me. Her creator is also a beautiful, powerful, thoughtful, articulate woman.
Rebecca Maizel has a lot more interesting thoughts about gender than I do. It’s something she has studied and thought about a great deal. So I am glad to say that she will join us later this month to discuss some of this. And the person who comments most this month will get a copy of Infinite Days. Thanks for stopping by!