Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Underage Fang

I think that I fell into the vampire boat with the same wave that was carrying the rest of the nation. There's been such an upsurge of interest in vampires in the last four of five years (at least for me--maybe longer for other people). It's everywhere I look now: in romance, in fantasy, in horror, in comic books, on TV, in movies. (And does anyone else think Evanescence is trying to look a little vampire/werewolfy in her videos? Check out her home page, or even her site gallery, and tell me if I'm wrong.)

There was a point in time when I resisted vampires, too. My downfall was Laurell K. Hamilton. Really, I guess I could blame Borders for placing the horror section at the end of the fantasy section so that they bled into each other, but I think blaming Hamilton is more accurate. I never would have been attracted to her book if they hadn't been so large. (I know, I'm so shallow!) For months, maybe a year or longer, I would see her series lined up, then already nine deep, each one larger than the last. I would read the titles or casually pick one up, read a line or two on the back, and set it back down. It was probably Cody who finally convinced me to get the first one--not because he has ever read one or even heard of Hamilton before I became her fan, but because he also saw the length of the series and each book's increasing girth and knew I'd be a happy girl for a long time if I liked the first book. One book in, I was hooked.

Since then, I now own and actively seek out five authors' ongoing vampire/wereanimal series, including Charlaine Harris (she's got a new TV show out, True Blood based on her series), Kelly Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Carrie Vaughn, and most recently the thoroughly unpredictable and unprecedented vampires of Robin McKinley's Sunshine. I've even added Buffy the Vampire Slayer to my list of favorite TV shows, and I only started watching the seasons this year. (Is anyone else disappointed that the vampires in the show are so ugly? I get that they're animals hunting humans, but I thought part of their predatory skill set was the ability to mesmerise people with their irresistible sex appeal. There's nothing sexy about those Cro-Magnon brows.) I never did read VC Andrews or Anne Rice, though. I completely missed them in my teenage years and have no desire to go back to them now.

However, there are some places I don't like vampires. Romance is one of them. I've tried several paranormal romances with vampires in them, and haven't really cared for them all. There's just nothing about blood sucking that does it for me. The only vampire romance that I've thought decent was by Katie MacAlister, but I've loved her other books, so saying I liked this one is kind of an insult.

And the whole reason why I started thinking about this topic in general is because I now know that I don't like vampires in young adult books, either. I think it might be more safe to say that I don't like young adult books in general, and not even a vampire element can improve them. In particular, I just finished Rachel Caine's Glass Houses. I really like Caine's adult fantasy series, and she's what lured me to the teen side of the bookstore in the first place. The story was well crafted, the characters completely believable, but the story was rather blah for me. As in, I was ready to be done with the book halfway through and then it was just a matter of making myself finish it so I could know how it ended. Maybe I would have liked it more if I were fifteen years younger, but even then, I think I was reading fantasy novels that were more risque (therefore, more exciting) than Caine's vampire novel.

Okay, okay, I hear you all clamoring that I haven't given YA books a fair shot, and you're right; I've only read one YA vampire book. I've completely missed the Stephanie Myer train that blazed across this country from New York to Hollywood. I haven't even read one of the book jackets for her books. But if it involves characters who are awkward around boys because they've never kissed them, have problems with parents that won't let them stay out too late, have to fit their adventure in around school or extracurricular activities, or are picked on by mean high school girls or boys, it doesn't interest me. I like blood and sex and carnage and adventure in my vampire novels. I want characters who're old enough to have figured out what they want and have the independence to go for it. I want the romantic climax of the story to have one, not just end in a kiss.

Unless a YA novel can offer any of that, I'm not going to be straying far from my fantasy/horror sections again anytime soon.


Kate said...

I think a lot of high school life does involve blood, sex, carnage, and adventure. High school experiences are way scarier than anything about a vampire I might dream up. At least if a vampire terrorizes you, you don't have to see them every day in Trig for the rest of the year.

shaida said...

You should try Melissa Marr's fairy books (Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange). Not vampires, obviously, but YA-oriented dark fantasy that isn't sanitized. As far as vampires and YA, the best one I've read so far is "Peeps" by Scott Westerfeld (that's the book with all the parasite info that got me so freaked out). Anyway, those are my recommendations if you ever want to give YA fantasy another shot. Keep avoiding the Stephenie Meyer books, I don't think you'll like them at all!