Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hot Blood: YA Vampires

by Shauna Leigh Kemp

With the New Moon movie out this month, the second book in the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, one doesn’t have to look far to see that Twilight has had a major impact on society.  As a Young Adult series, it has reached teenagers and adult audiences everywhere.  It has introduced vampires to some who had never even held a vampire book and has rekindled die-hard vampire lovers with a new twist.  Twilight has even sparked interest and inspiration among writers.  More and more vampire YA series have been coming out since the Twilight Saga.  Some were already here and have gained a new generation of YA vampire lovers.  The question is what are some of these differences between Twilight and other YA Vampires series?  Some of which are the Vampire Diaries, Vampire Kisses and the House of Night series (just to name a few).  What vampire-y details are similar, different, and paranormally unique in young adult (YA) vampire series.  How do they vamp up in comparison with Twilight? 

Twilight (2005)

Sparkly vampire Edward Cullen falls in love with accident prone human girl Bella Swan at first scent.  The Cullen family vampires only drink the blood of animals, but her scent draws him in like no other human.  And she is drawn to him unaffected by the warning signs that kept most humans a safe distance away from the vampires.  The Cullen vampires each have special abilities.  Edward can read minds except for Bella’s, which he finds this extremely frustrating as he finds himself wanting to know more and at the same time is drawn to her blood.  Edward struggles with staying and leaving for her safety and that of his family being revealed.  Ultimately he stays and learns to be closer to her scent.  She wants to know him more too, making it harder and harder for him to stay away.  The series is a love story between a vampire and a human and the odds they face.  The Cullen family vampires value human life and do not feed from it.  They can be out during the day, but not in direct sunlight because they sparkle like diamonds.  They are strong, fast, cold, stone bodies that are frozen in the age that they were turned into vampires (by another vampire bite).  They don’t eat other than animal blood, they don’t sleep, and they are extremely hard to kill.  Each of the vampires in Twilight, good or bad usually has a different strength or ability such as mood control, visions, mind reading, compassion, fighting strength and so on.  The Cullens live among society, but not without notice and have to move from time to time to stay their appropriate ages.  The day Edward and Bella met everything changed, for both their lives.  It is a modern day yet classic love story with a vampire twists.  Each book of the saga is fashioned after a different classic love story such as Romeo and Juliet is for New Moon.  Twilight has become a modern day vampire classic love story.    

 Vampire Kisses (2003)

The Vampire Kisses series is an adorable series of books by Ellen Schreiber that has come out before and since Twilight.  They tend towards the younger of the YA books, but are enjoyable by all.  Goth Girl Raven falls in love with a vampire named Alexander Sterling.  Raven always dreamed of being a vampire when other girls were dressing in pink she was in black.  So, when they met, it was pretty much love at first sight.  Together they face dealing with the ancient vampire world Alexander is from and the modern world that Raven lives in; both seemingly wanting to live in each others world.  Both Alexander and Raven share a love of cemeteries.  And in Alexander’s world they are sacred ground that if bit by a vampire on them they would become bound mates for life.  Something that Raven looks forward too, but not Alexander.  The vampire characteristics differ quite a bit from some of the other modern vampire series.  Vampire Alexander sleeps in a coffin during the day while Raven is at school, wishing she were there with him.  He lives in a creaky old mansion and stays up all night painting while Raven sleeps.  He is quite dreamy really.  He and the other vampires cannot be seen in mirrors or photos, cannot be in bright lights even at night, can morph into bats while keeping their human colored eyes.  The most inconvenient of all is that they are deathly allergic to garlic (classic!) so much so that they have an epipen available (hopefully or they could die!) if they even inhale enough of it.  And, they ever so nicely don’t eat people, just really rare meat and have connections in high places at blood banks when necessary.  The Vampire Kisses series is a refreshing blend of old myths given a modern spin and an adventurous vampire love story.  There is also a Manga series to go along with them for those who want more of Alexander (and Raven)!

Vampire Diaries (1999-reissue)

The original Vampire Diaries books by L.J. Smith came out over a decade before Twilight’s existence.  Since then, Twilight came out, and vampires have gotten even more popular (due to others series as well) and the demand for vampire books grew.  Thus, the vampire diaries have been revisited by new generations of readers and even have the author writing more books in the series after all these years.  There is also a show based on them now.  One similarity of this series as with Twilight is that of a young male vampire trying to start fresh in a new town and tries to blend in with society rather than live in the shadows anymore.  His name is Stefan and he is centuries older than Twilight’s Edward and much the same sentiment for love.  Stefan’s tale is endearing, but not without struggles, a new girl he tries to avoid at first and eventually falls for and a brother with a horrible grudge trying to ruin everything.  Set in high school with a cemetery and old church across the river, which gives it a feeling of a rural city with ties to ancient times.  These vampires can be out in the day, usually with sunglasses though.    Some of the vamps drink human blood, but without killing them and usually choose birds and other animals to drink from.  Being bit by one does not mean one would become a vampire, but if a human drinks enough of their blood then they would, even after they died by human standards.  The vampires, if strong enough, can morph into other animal shapes.  Their strength increases by drinking human blood, which Stefan denies himself of as much as possible.  There are also other powers besides the vampires including ancient spirits and evil forces.  Not to mention, high school drama!  Without giving away too much more of the series, be prepared to read the original books 1-4 in a row! 

House of Night Series (2007)

The House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast is one of the most newly published current series.  They have released 6 of them in the last two years!  These are very different vampires.  They are known in the community, but are sent to their own school called the House of Night.  They are also prominent, successful members in the community.  To become a vampire one is marked, with an outline of a crescent moon on their forehead and are immediately sent to the HoN to learn about becoming a vampire.  They are called fledglings until they make the change into full fledged vampires.  If they survive the change to become a full vampire and have their tattoos fill in.  They have a Goddess named Nyx who superior fledgling Zoey Redbird has been gifted by for affinities to all 5 elements; earth, water, fire, wind and spirit.  Most vampires only have one, which makes her the most powerful fledgling and even vampire they have ever seen.  This mix of a heirachy around a goddess includes male warriors who protect them.  Zoey is even more tied in to Nyx and her affinities due to her Cherokee background where legends seem to be coming true.  There are also two types of vampires, the blue fledglings who survive the change the ones who don’t survive have started to come back as something worse than death and have red marks.  The red fledglings come back with their humanity lost unless they find the will to choose good over the evil forces they fill just as Stevie Rae, Zoey’s best friend does.  This is one of few similarities to Twilight, the freedom of choice between what is right and what is not.  Tough, but it can be done.  Humanity and souls are mentioned quite a bit in Twilight as Edward worries about not having one and wanting to leave Bella with hers.  This is one characteristic when mixed with vampires adds depth to them on another level.  Vampire-y details are that the blue vampires can go in sunlight but it’s not comfortable, sort of annoying.  However, red vampires (undead) will burn in sunlight.  Both types take to the night for the most part, with classes being held at night and they sleep during the day.  There are other creatures and forces of good and evil to a whole other degree than most any other YA vampire series.  The adventures keep you guessing, but it isn’t without blinding turns and anxiety as you wait to see what happens to Zoey and her friends.  If you like dark, dangerous and otherworldly this is the YA series for you.  So, while it touches on souls as Twilight does, the rest of it is a whole other take on vampires, good and bad.

While Twilight is extremely popular right now there are lots of YA vampire series to get into.  Just to name a few more for future reading and comparison with Twilight could include Vampire Academy, Blue Bloods, Morganville Vampires and Peeps.  Are there any others you would like to see for future YA Vampire posts on VampChix?  Thanks for a bit of YA Vampire talk here at VampChix!


Roxanne Rhoads said...

I would love to learn about other YA vampire series. My daughter is really wanting to get into these books but so many have too much sex in them for a 10 year old. Maybe when she gets a little older but even Twilight I have heard gets into the sex and stuff in the last book.

I want younger YA books. I am so glad you listed the Vampire Kisses series. I am going to get them for my daughter.

Please keep writing about these series.

Shauna said...

I'm glad they are of interest to others too. :)

The first Twilight is safe, but the last one is definitely NOT for a 10-yr old. Probably late teen or older if you ask me.

Vampire Kisses is a perfect series! They have some Manga books that go along with it that she might like as well.

House of Night series would be a definite NO, even more than the last book in Twilight. I'm a huge Twilight fan, but a lot does happen in the last one, done with pretty good taste, but for much older. House of night has a couple of scenes that shocked me and it's a little more "dark" in places.

The Vampire Diaries (1-4 anyway) might be safe when she gets a little older. Maybe read first to be sure, there is one thing I'm thinking of that you may want to read first to make sure or at least be ready to discuss. But, definitely for younger readers than Twilight.

I'm trying to think of any others... Vampire Kisses would be an excellent place to start and there are plenty to the series and another one out next year.

Best wishes!

Roxanne Rhoads said...

Update: I got the first three books in the Vampire Kisses series and my daughter absolutely loves them.

Great recommendation.