Book - Dracula
Author – Bram Stoker
Star rating - ★★★☆☆
Would I read it again - Probably not
Plot – good story, long winded, could have been better
Characters – varied: some are interesting, some are a bit boring
Movie Potential - ★★☆☆
Ease of reading – bit long winded
So I'm a bit half and half with this one. I've been dying to read it for a while, but I'm still undecided as to what I actually think. And when I think of all the books/movies/tv shows this book has spawned, I'm a little confused. But then again, I said the same thing about the Vampire Diaries.
I love the first ~20% of the story, with Jonathan Harker and Dracula. The story was interesting, I like the way that Jonathan's diary was written and the way he portrayed himself and Dracula. There was a lot of mystery to it, a lot of speculation and uncertainty. Even though everyone knows, when they read the book nowadays that Dracula is a vampire, you get a sense that you're not sure, and neither if Jonathan in this part of the story. I think it's great that Stoker could make us doubt what we know, just with his writing. If the whole book had been like this, I'd have read it in a day and given it 5 stars.
As it is, I struggled to get through it. Chapters are HUGE and some diary entries, especially halfway through the book are anywhere from 8-16 pages long. It's not easy to just pick this up at night and only read a little, or a chapter at a time. Once I pick it up, I usually end up spending two hours reading it, and even then I'm making very little headway percentage wise. It is taking FOREVER to read. If I were an immortal vampire, I wouldn't mind, but I have other things to do so it's a bit annoying.
Once Mina and Lucy got introduced to the story and Jonathan disappeared, my interest waned quite a bit. She and Lucy were not nearly as interesting as Jonathan was. Their diary entries were clearly written by the same hand as Jonathan's, despite their being different characters and the whole love square with Lucy was boring. I didn't like this part of the book at all, which probably amounted for a good 25% after the Jonathan storyline.
Once we started getting introduced to Lucy's suitors thing got marginally better. I really liked Dr Seward and his psychiatric patient Renfield, who really seemed to keep the intrigue and my attention. They were both really interesting and written in a completely different way. I was, however, very pleased that I'd studied Victorian medicine at Uni because it helped a little in understanding half of the gobbledegook that they talked about. Renfield was a particularly favourite character of mine because he was so complex, and because in the end, I really managed to connect with him and his situation.
The news entries and telegram notices were nice little touches and they made for quick five/ten minute reading during my writing breaks or when out and about. However, my really big issue with this story is the way that accents are written. It's considered quite a big no-no in this day and age, because people find it hard to read. Well, someone should have told Stoker that. The guy from the Zoo was just ridiculous reading and I really struggled to understand half of what Van Helsing was saying when he first go introduced to the story.
I don't like giving spoilers, but it seems that I'm about one of the only people on earth, over a certain age that hasn't read this book before. So let me say that I think the whole group of men: Jonathan, Dr Seward, Van Helsing, Art and Quincy are a bunch of morons, if they didn't think to even stop and wonder as to the safety of Mina Harker, while they were off playing the Heroes of the story. Let's face it, it was almost exactly the same thing that happened to Lucy. They left her, claiming she was safe and things got a Hell of a lot worse for her. But they continued to leave her, just as with Mina, and eventually she died. Big shock there. I do, however, understand that Jonathan blamed it all on stress whenever he noticed how pale and tired she was since he hadn't been around to see the deterioration of Lucy. But if he had just once mentioned it to the others, then surely with their experience with Lucy, they would have known what was going on and helped out.
I will say this – during reading this book, I was undecided as to how I was going to rate it. Until Jonathan's story ended it was a solid 5 stars. After the whole débâcle with Lucy and Mina, I lowered it to 2.5 stars. By the time I was a little more than halfway through the book, this had gone up to 3 stars. The intense last 20% of the book managed to scrape up another .5 of a star, to bump it up to 3 ½ stars. Sadly, the disappointing ending stole that .5 and put it back to a 3 star.
To be quite honest, I could see half of this book or so getting chopping out and leaving it a much better story. The first 60%, apart from Jonathan's brief encounter at the beginning, was very slow and drawn out. I get that it's to be suggestive, to leave you wondering, but I could easily have missed reading the whole Lucy part of the story and still been quite happy with the book as a whole.
At the end of this book I can safely say that Jonathan began, remained and ended as my favourite character. Renfield was a close second with Van Helsing and Dr Seward following in the queue. The girls, sadly, didn't even merit top 10 positions in my favourite characters. They were insipid, self-obsessed at times, more interested in their own love lives than what was going on around them and frankly, uninteresting the entire way through the book. I didn't have any sympathy for Lucy when she died and I didn't have any sympathy for Mina, for getting herself hooked up with the Count.
Overall, a decent book with a good story. It was far too long winded for my liking, took too long to get to the point and the ending was disappointingly anti-climactic.