The Cure for Twilight

With New Moon topping the box office, most of us are experiencing a resurgence of Twilight madness. Here, at a private K-9 school, we have about six copies of each book in the series and they are rarely in on our YA shelves. But, as with any trend, there are always dissenters.

Some have hated the whole thing from the start, or some, like me, have just had enough. I read them, I saw the first movie, and I’m sure I’ll see New Moon eventually. I get it, it’s fun, it’s escapist, (though I agree with L. Lee Butler’s post from last week, it does normalize some pretty creepy behavior, but I digress). At this point, I’m over it and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. I overheard some students the other day asking each other if they were going to see the movie, and one girl replied: “I never got into those,” as if it were a point of pride.

There are plenty of reasons to be tired of Twilight, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on vampires, or even on supernatural romances, forever.
So, for your perusal, I present cures for various Twilight related ills:

Tired of shiny, pretty, clean vampires?
Try: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.

Vampirism is caused by a parasite. In alternating chapters we learn the history of various parasites in nature, and we follow the story of Cal, a seemingly normal guy, who loves his cat, but is actually a parasite infected vampire hunter. Strange things are occurring in and under New York City. This is probably my favorite vampire book, it’s disgusting and fascinating. Westerfeld always creates a good balance between action and characterization. And it has a sequel: The Last Days.

Tired of vampires being the good guys?
Try: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1) by Rachel Caine

Claire, a college freshman, is the subject of harassment by the mean girls at her new school. To avoid them, she moves off campus into a big old house with roommates, who seem a little strange. But stranger still are the streets of Morganville at night, and Claire’s new roommates might just save her life. In Morganville, the vampires are bad. Don’t go out after dark!

Tired of all the teen angst?
Try: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Return to viewing the supernatural through the eyes of childlike wonder. The Graveyard Book is both creepy and sweet. It is the story of Bod, a boy whose family has been murdered, and is raised by the inhabitants of a graveyard. There are ghosts and goblins, and even a vampire, who is written in such a way where we are neither explicitly told that he is a vampire nor are we ever in any doubt of it.

Tired of passive female protagonists?
Try: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

This supernatural romance features all the melodrama a Twilight fan is accustomed to, with none of the passivity from the female lead. Vivian is a werewolf and proud of it. Friction with humans is a part of pack life, but adolescence brings many questions about identity. Vivian finds herself drawn to Aidan, a human and courted by Gabriel, the pack’s new leader. She is confronted with choices about love and loyalty, and ultimately about finding a balance between the human and wolf elements of her own personality.

Tired of vampires getting all the glory and leaving none for the werewolves?
Try: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve only just started this one, so I can’t tell you much about it directly. The reviews are calling it Twilight for Team Jacob. So far, our protagonist, Grace, is a bit more grounded than Bella, she has friends that she hangs out with and talks to on the phone. And her chapters alternate with the male lead, Sam, a werewolf who, when human, spends his summers working in a bookstore. I am particularly intrigued by the presence of both voices in this romance.

Have you outgrown Twilight?
Try: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

First published in 1979, this is one of the first books that cast vampires as sympathetic protagonists. It tells the tale of Louis, a young man from New Orleans, who is turned into a vampire by the capricious and mercurial Lestat. The writing is florid at the worst of times, but at the best it seems to suit the passion of Louis and Lestat’s intense love and hate of each other.

Are you looking for a literary challenge?
Try: Dracula by Bram Stoker

I know, it was written in the 19th century and some might call it “a classic”, big turnoffs, but for a teen who is thinking of majoring in English, or a librarian who has never given it a chance, I can’t recommend Dracula enough. It’s less of a story about the vampire himself and more of a story of science, keeping an open mind, and a group of people who come to love and trust each other as they band together to fight evil.

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