For my Halloween post, I’m going to talk about the paranormal creatures in young adult fiction, and what went wrong. You see, in the old days, paranormal creatures were some of the scariest things around-Dracula and ghosts haunted the Victorians, and I’m sure there are many more old books to there where a supernatural thing would simply leave you terrified. Now, pick up a book featuring a paranormal creature. Preferably that book was published in the last four years, and is aimed at the young adult market. Chances are, it will feature vampires, or werewolves and chances are that said vampire or werewolf is the love interest in the novel. So how is it that the things that we wanted out of our bedrooms, now we want them very much in?
Well, before I blame a book I really dislike, we still have other things pre-dating that that feature paranormal romance. Buffy the vampire slayer. That girl who could easily save herself fell in love with Angel, a romance doomed to fail. And before Dracula even, J Sheridan La Fanu’s Carmilla is a lesbian love story with a bloodsucker involved. And the slightly romantic side to Dracula. And a lot more. But vampires, in my opinion, should be kept for scares.
The whole uprising of paranormal romance is of course due to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Vampires and werewolves were suddenly the big thing to fall in love with. Then The Vampire Diaries by L J Smith, Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater and many many more books joined the growing amount of paranormal romance on the shelves. It’s easy to see why: the simple concept of a girl falling in love with something not human is very open, with many different paths to go down, and is a proven success. That's the reasons for the author. But they wouldn't be doing this without the readers. So let's see what the readers say.
A vampire is a reanimated corpse that needs living blood to sustain itself. so why is it so popular? Judging by Twilight, it’s the fact that some of them are capable of not being psychopathic killers but things with a heart. We tend to love things that aren’t heartless and able to kill random people. And then there's the slightly more practical side of them being strong and fast and generally able to save you from all kinds of danger, from other big things that want to rip you to pieces, to skidding trucks.
then you get the lycanthrope, most commonly a werewolf, but we see a few were-cats and other creatures too. something cursed to turning furry and wild one night a month, then be normal for the rest of it. Why are these so attractive? Most likely the speed and strength, or possibly because for twenty seven of twenty eight days, you have a perfectly normal boy or girlfriend. Can't see what you'd do with them on the other night of the four weeks though. Lock yourself out of their way and hope he doesn't worry the livestock too much I suppose.
Zombies are reanimated corpses, but they don't seem to get that much going for them. Read my post on Paranormal Wastelands for my reasoning behind this.
I'm not trying to lead a rebellion against paranormal romance. I love a bit of romance with bite, just as much as most of you reading this blog. Probably. But sometimes I wonder, why is it so hard to get a good scare out of what began their existences as monsters? why do these monsters send warmth to our hearts rather than chills up our spine? And will we ever see young adult shelves become full of books where the paranormal creatures, no matter what species they may be, are scary, and not sparkly?