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20 February 2010 @ 12:05 am
Vampires: An Endangered Species? (or thoughts on current YA)  
Trends in books, especially in genres, seem to be more obvious in the YA sections of bookshops and libraries. (Maybe because many of them start there.) Twilight books finally gave space to 'if you like Twilight you'll like this' books and now there is a 'Dark Fantasy' area amongst the YA in Waterstones. It contains a lot of vampire books, but also a lot of books that don't have vampires in at all.

I've been trying to keep a weather eye open for when the YA trend for vampires changes. Zombies have been creeping in, from survival guides to the haunting Forest of Hands and Teeth. It amuses me that the immaculate dead might have to give way to something less than perfection that we might be more able to empathise with. Namely the smelly with bits falling off kind of dead. I also spotted that L J Smith's The Secret Circle books, about witches, have started showing up where previously you could only find stories by her that contained vampires. (Arguably, we already went through the witches and wizards phase with Harry Potter though.)

Some authors seem to just be ignoring vampires. Despite vampires cropping up in her Women of the Otherworld (adult) series, they don't appear in Kelley Armstrong's YA trilogy (which starts with The Summoning) even though it's set in the same 'verse. Holly Black and Melissa Marr have fairies, Sarah Rees Brennan has demons.

I can understand authors trying not to mention vampires at all, in a bid to be something a bit different or because vampires just aren't part of the scene, but I found it curious that two YA books I read this week mention vampires in order to dismiss them or get them out of the way.



From Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures, page 442 in my copy:

"So you are a vampire."
"I most certainly am not." He looked annoyed. "That's such a common phrase, such a cliché, and so unflattering. There are no such things as vampires. I suppose you believe in werewolves and aliens, too. I blame television."


And from Need by Carrie Jones, page 202:

"I don’t know how vampires work. I'm not sure they're even real."
"Seriously?"
"Yeah."
"Well, there's a positive, I guess."


If the point was to gain some distance from vampires, to try to be original, did they need to be mentioned to be gotten rid of? Are vampires so much a part of popular culture at the moment that their lack of presence in a book has to be noted or explained?

Both books have originality in spades. Beautiful Creatures makes a place into a character with the descriptions of small town life in South Carolina, from the buildings to the attitudes of the people. I visualise Russia as in Sergei Lukyanenko's books, Aravind Adiga gave me a vision of India, and this is what I think of now for the South. Need has characters with, well, character. Zara runs because she enjoys it, and she's good at it, is a member of Amnesty International, and lists phobias. Devyn is in a wheelchair and that's nothing to do with who he is. There are adults who actually help for a change and strong older female types too.

I won't give the game away by saying what magic is involved in those two books, but vampires don't feature.

Apparently there are only so many stories that can be told, when you chop them down to the basics. Originality, then, is how you tell them. It's not if a book does or doesn't contain vampires, or anything else for that matter, but if the story does or doesn't capture your imagination.

Do you think if it's a fantasy book vampires need to be addressed these days, even if just to get rid of them? Has anyone else seen this in books lately? And if we're getting rid of vampires, what do you think is coming next?

 
 
feeling: curiouscurious