Monday, April 7, 2008

Never Ceese 2: Be He Alive or Be He Dead

One of the things I could never figure out about Sue Dent's Never Ceese was whether Richard the Vampire was basically alive or dead.

Now, you're probably saying, "Sheesh! What part of 'undead' do you not understand?"

That would be the "undead" part. Or at least the "un-." You see, even an animated corpse is basically dead. If you have a taxidermist and an animatronic engineer get together, they could make any corpse move around a lot, but it would still be a corpse. On the other hand, if you're alive, you're "un-dead." So consider the data:

It's apparently unusual for Richard to breathe or have a pulse (pp 194-195). Yet his breath is described as "hot" (p 234). Also, even if he can breathe at will, the nicotine in his cigarettes will have nowhere to go: without normal cardiopulmonary function, it won't enter his bloodstream and affect him normally. He nonetheless considers smoking relaxing. How can that be?

As a related point, the whole idea of Richard's having plastic surgery (p 94) implies a lot of problems--anesthesia, reflective surfaces during surgery, and so on. And the operation probably wouldn't succeed: his healing powers would probably restore his original features.

Actually, solving this is child's play compared to figuring out a rationale for the curses, which I'll take on tomorrow. And although I don't like to say this, I can't justify my analysis without engaging in a major spoiler or two. (If you want a proper explanation, e-mail me.) But for the record: Richard is basically alive, not dead, and I can only suggest that the "dead" behavior (lack of breathing and pulse, for example) is a kind of illusion produced by the curse. His being alive makes the smoking and plastic surgery easier to accept, among other things. In other words, he probably does breathe and circulate blood, though presumably at a much-reduced rate, but it's masked by the curse--which makes the curse all the more difficult to explain. I'll try to do it tomorrow anyway.

Other participating blogs:

The Christian Fiction Review Blog

A Frank Review

Susan Kirkland

Melissa Meeks @ Bibliophile's Retreat

Geralyn Beauchamp @ The Time Mistress

Cathi Hassan @ Cathi's Chatter

Caprice Hokstad @ Queen of Convolution


cathikin said...

I have to admit, I couldn't figure out whether Richard was dead or undead, but I don't know enough about vampires to have let it bother me much.

Sue Dent said...

LOL You go Cathi! *sticks tongue out at Steven but then runs off before he can catch her*

ForstRose said...

Ok so if you take the word undead apart you would think it literally means the opposite of dead. This would make it a synonym of alive. This interpretation raises the question of why have the word undead at all if it means the same thing as alive? However my understanding and interpretation of the word is different. Undead is neither dead nor alive. The entity in this state is in a sense stuck somewhere between death and life therefore they still have a "physical" presence of sorts among the living.

Now I could be totally off track here in regards to Sue's intentions as far as Richards status but that is how I've understood the word and in that sense the "contradictions" of physical signs can be understood as an anomaly of the condition of being stuck between two realities - at least in my opinion.

Yes I like analyzing details at times though I try not to claim a "right answer" to anything. Despite analyzing minor details I've discovered it often still comes down to my personal interpretation in the end.


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