Wednesday 15 February 2012

What is YA? Vampires!

Why are vampire books so incredibly popular? There are plenty of theories, and here’s mine- who doesn’t want a rich, handsome, worldly, and slightly dangerous boyfriend (or girlfriend)?  YA vampires are almost always as mentioned. The vampire boy (most often depicted) can also be needy – maybe the girl can help him be a better… person? Maybe her love will transform him into a feeling, nice, sweet blood sucker. Maybe he will give up his penchant for human blood, and hunt squirrels instead. Or if he must drink human blood, maybe he’ll only feast on bad guys.  At any rate, the vampire is the perfect boyfriend, because he is so unattainable. He’s the perfect fantasy, he’s not real, but in the novel, he is hyper-real.  He’s a bad-boy, yes, but he is stone-cold beautiful, difficult to love, but oh so worth the trouble. He’s the older man in a teenage body. He’s been around for so long; he is just waiting for the right girl to change him.   What’s not to love? Most YA vampire novels are also low on the violence scale, so the story is more about the characters and the plot, less about graphic descriptions of throats being torn out.  Yet there is still blood, because what would a vampire book be without blood? 

One has to admit that the Twilight series recently gave the genre a huge push, but vampire books have held their own long before Ms. Meyer stepped into the half-lit night. Teens read Anne Rice’s Lestat books and Stephen King’s incredibly creepy Salem's Lot well before Edward Cullen was conceived. As an aficionado of all things vampire, I have to confess that the Twilight books are not my favourites. Yes, I’ve read them and yes, there were some good bits (like the movies), but there are plenty of other great vampire books out there.  A recent favourite was Blood by K. J. Wignall. The vampire (he prefers the term Undead) in this book doesn’t even know who made him what he is. What he used to be was an Earl in line to inherit a fortune, and of course, he is a handsome, intelligent, and thoughtful killer.  The story is complex, the English Midlands setting is perfect, and there are characters are aplenty. And of course, it is to be a trilogy.  Riffing on Harry Potter, there are vampire boarding school books, such as the House of Night series by P.C. Cast, and for the A-List fans, snobby rich-kid vampires like the ones in the Vamps series by Nancy A. Collins, and even humorous vampires like the snarky star of  Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst – and by the way, these 3 books all feature girl vampires.   If you are already a fan of the genre, take a look at our Vampire booklist, you might find a title you haven’t yet read. For those who like their characters to be fully alive (at least when the book begins), tune in next month when we’ll explore some of the books that won the Michael Printz award for excellence in YA books. 

WHAT IS YA? Will be a monthly feature, published on the 15th of each month, written by Angela Reynolds, our Head of Youth Services.  We are giving away YA books to go along with it! Make a comment below about one of the books we talked about, and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for a YA review copy. Must be able to pick the book up at one of our branch libraries; no books will be shipped or mailed.


  1. I seldom read vampire stories although I did read the first Twilight book. One of my favorite fantasy authors, Robin McKinley, did write one and I read it. The title is Sunshine and it's great! In a world where other demi creatures are just trying to fit in (picture werewolves in law enforcement) a young orphan with wizard blood is trying to save the world from a big bad vampire. It's a great read and AVRL owns it too.

  2. Troopalina, email me at -- you win a book!