The parents who tell me they will never let their daughters read Twilight are so cute. They're kind of like the little boys who tell you they won't touch a girl. Ever, ever, ever.
They're convinced they're on the righteous path. But they're never going to make it work.
I'm sorry, parents. Twilight is like a case of the creeping crud. It slinks its way through middle and high schools infecting everyone. And I say this as a grown woman who has not only read all four books but liked them (in that escapist sort of way) enough to watch the films.
Fortunately, it doesn't take a bulb of garlic and a silver stake to protect your kids. It just takes a few good books:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. First in what is to be a series about Calla Tor, the female alpha in a pack of werewolves, Nightshade bears a passing resemblance to the Twilight series. There's a human who gets mixed up in the supernatural. There's a wolf pack. There's magic. And, of course, there's a love story.
Where this story deviates is with Calla. An alpha, she has a stronger sense of self than Twilight's Bella Swan, but finds herself fighting a battle between what she wants and what is expected of her in her wolf pack. Sent to us for review, The Stir found Nightshade is far from perfect (aside from Calla, many of the supporting characters fall flat on the page), but the series holds promise with at least fleeting glimpses at real life teen issues (homosexuality, gender issues). And it fulfills their taste for the paranormal.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Turned onto these by a friend, I've only gotten through books one through four (the ones in this box set), but here's hoping they're a sign of what I'll find as I grab numbers five and six in anticipation of the release of seven.
Like the name implies, there are two races of vampires roaming our world, and young Rose Hathaway is in training at St. Vladimir's Academy to fulfill her role as a vampire bodyguard to a princess, her best friend Lissa. There are love interests, but it's the girls' fierce friendship that remains the dominant force in these tales -- and that can't be bad for teenage girls.
Matched by Ally Condie. It's a world devoid of vampires and werewolves, but it's anything but normal for Cassia, a girl living in a Utopian society where your mate is government chosen. Only a computer blip gives her a look at an alternative mate -- one the government never intended.
It's got the requisite love story, but this novel due on shelves at the end of the month (we were hooked by an early reader copy sent to The Stir) forces kids to question their place in society and the freedoms they hold dear.
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. Starting off in the eighth grade with her teenaged vampire, we were pleased to find in our review copies that Brewer has managed to tone down the lust and desire that plagued Twilight in favor of a funny story about being the weird kid. Vlad is half vampire, half human, and an orphan (think Harry Potter).
He gets by thanks to his Aunt Nelly, who brings home blood from the blood bank to keep him going, but that doesn't shield him from the horrors of middle and high school.
He may be a vampire, but this is as close to a "real" story about kids as you can get in the science fiction realm.
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Fans of Austin, Texas already know it's got a reputation for being one of the hottest hangouts in the Lone Star State. Who knew it was also a hotbed of vampiric and werewolf activity? A teenage orphan named Quincie Morris leads this science fiction meets mystery that's more Buffy the Vampire Slayer quirky than Twilight tangled.
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan. A British author brings to life the story of a boy who snuck out to an illicit freak show only to find he's tangled in the future of vampire spider-wrangler.
With a male lead and a male author, this is the vampire series that stretches way beyond Twilight into a decidedly male audience (really, it was my 23-year-old brother who turned me onto this series).
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. A Brooklyn schoolteacher has managed to turn the old tale of Hansel and Gretel into a subversive, dark, and quirky adventure through the Brothers Grimm repertoire. An advance reader copy sent to The Stir revealed fairy tales aren't for little kids anymore. So what is this doing on a vampire list? Let's just say there's blood and terrible creatures who don't need fangs to bite.
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones. We're back to vampires, but the blood is gone. It turns out it isn't a juicy neck teenaged do-gooder Cassandra lusts for. She wants your tears, and your teens may realize it's good to cry.
What are your favorite paranormal books for teens?
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