Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman is one of our school’s considerations for the grade nine de-streamed classroom. These are my thoughts on whether or not we should include this book in our book club selection. To learn more about our Inclusive Classroom Library Project, please click here.
A Brief Plot Outline
An archivist named Sol meets Elsie when she brings forward letters and other material left from her dead wife, a semi-famous television writer. Sal falls in love with Elsie, but he has a dark secret: he is a vampire.
Because of his vampirism, the archives he works on deteriorate rapidly. Also, because of his vampirism, he has been living at work so that he won’t get caught out in the sun, which would kill him.
Eventually, he loses his job but agrees to save the collection by finishing the archive.
Dead Collections was a difficult book for me to get through. I found the vampirism element was a weird analogy for the hatred? Bigotry? Transphobia? that Sol faces. Plus, this odd occurrence of archives decaying called eidolism adds to my confusion.
Admittedly, I am probably not the target audience for this novel. I am an LGBTQ+ ally, but I am unfamiliar with many terms used in the trans community. So, perhaps this metaphor of vampirism resonates better within that community.
Aside from that, a few explicit passages are of concern. But being a book about sexuality and identity, it is not excessive. I imagine that some parents would complain about the content, though.
Who Will Like This?
I believe that trans students, some allies, and students that love vampire stories will probably enjoy this book.
I believe that some parents will have a difficult time accepting this novel because of the sex scenes.
More importantly, this novel is not for struggling readers. Many connections that the author wants us to make will be complicated, even for strong readers.
I think this one is a pass. I’m glad I have a copy for my class library, but I believe there are better options for LGBTQ+ novels as far as grade nine book club books go.