Insatiable

Insatiable by Meg Cabot 

This book is a great beach read, or a curl-up-by-the-fire-on-a-stormy-night read, or an airplane read. It won’t make you a better person, but it will probably make you a happier one. Cabot’s prose is, as always, engaging without being demanding, clever without being catty, and just all around delightful.

That said, this is a vampire romance written after Twilight, so of course I’m going to compare them. Cabot doesn’t say word one about Twilight as she discusses her inspiration for Insatiable, and I’m mostly willing to believe her. I do have a sneaky little voice in the back of my head, though, that can’t help thinking that maybe Cabot decided that if vampire romances were going to be written, she was the author to show us how it ought to be done. Not that Cabot’s work isn’t original, because it is as original as anything about vampires (an old folktale figure, thoroughly explored in literature already) can be. Cabot meshes the sexy, kind, powerful vampire favored by Meyer with the threatening, evil, dangerous monster of Bram Stoker. But there are some interesting similarities and differences between Cabot’s vampire tale and Meyer’s.

First, the similarities:

  • 2 romantic possibilities, one a vampire, another a creature who fights vampires (and btw, I am skeptical about  Cabot’s coy response that Alaric Wulf is not a werewolf “as far as he knows.” Seriously? Alaric Wulf? Any predictions about the sequel?)
  • female protagonists with mental powers
  • sexy, rich guys
  • men have the power to compel desire
  • woman have the power to enchant men and change their nature

Ok, so some of those may just be storytelling coincidences, like the fact that both of these books are vampire romances (although the case could be made that Insatiable is more thriller than romance). It’s the differences that are revealing, I think. These aren’t just the differences that happen when two different authors write two different stories in roughly the same genre (see Harry Potter in comparison to The Magicians or even Percy Jackson, perhaps). In Insatiable, Cabot has written the book that so many people in favor of women’s rights wish Meyer had written.

The differences:
Twilight                                                                           Insatiable
– protagonist an angsty teenager                             – protagonist a grown woman with a full life
    looking for a home
– virgin, but sensual                                                    – SEX HAPPENS (Yowza!), but less sensuality
– death is the gateway to more life                           – death is “nothingness,” a thing to fear
– chooses eternal life                                                  – chooses life
– chooses fulfilling family life                                     – chooses meaningful career
– loves vampire                                                             – loves, but rejects, vampire

These differences place Cabot’s heroine as a grown woman who is aware of her own talents and gifts and who decides, in the end, to work to make the world a better place through her career. She doesn’t have an inferiority complex. She is nonplussed by Lucien’s wealth (I mean, she likes it, but it doesn’t ever change her mind about anything), and she absolutely refuses to let him be her “protector.” Lucien becomes, in the end, the creepy, borderline-abusive stalker Edward is so frequently accused of being. And while I’ve argued elsewhere that the Twilight Saga is all about Bella’s growing agency, and that her choice to embrace family life should be as valid as any other choice by any other girl, Cabot uses Meena Harper (get it? Like Mina Harker, her ancestor. Cabot wants to place herself squarely in the “authentic” vampire canon and not in the “sparkly” vampire trend.) to show that it’s possible to have romance in your life without allowing romance to control your life.

Unlike so many copycat authors attempting to get a slice of the lucrative vampire romance pie, Cabot adds something refreshing and delightful to the subgenre. This was a really fun read.

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