Sunday 30 October 2011

Scary, not Sparkly Please!

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?


  1. I completely agree with you. I mean, yes, I enjoyed Twilight but that's it. I still can't understand the fact that a lot of awesome vampire books are being re-edited to match the Twilight covers... I mean, what the heck?! Those books are far way better than Twilight... sigh.

    Anyway, another great post. Keep them coming!

    Alaiel Kreuz

  2. I agree that its totally weird for the vamp/weres to be the love interests! Thats why I love Jackson Pearce's Fairytale Retellings so much... you should read them! :D
    awesome post!

  3. I think part of it, at least in the case of immortal creatures like vampires, is the appeal of a love that lasts forever because your lover is forever. And with werewolves it seems that I guess they mate for life, once they find their true mate or whatever? I've only just finished my first lycanthrope novel, but this is what I've heard.

    I enjoy these books (I've always said romance novels are my guilty pleasure, haha) but yeah, it's a huge change having what used to be the monsters turn into beings that really aren't so simple - that they now have both good and evil among their ranks just like humans do.

    You can't really set Twilight as the beginning of the trend, though, I think - Anne Rice was writing about the beautiful, seductive, and sometimes self-loathing vampire well before Stephenie Meyer, though hers don't sparkle lol. :P And when I was in high school back at the turn of the century (lol) I used to read a ton of my mom's romance novels, which included paranormal romance by Lynn Kurland - the ones I remember featured ghosts.

    I also think there's still enough actual horror being written that the paranormal romances don't really take anything away - there's still some scary out there who aren't into the whole paranormal romance thing. :)

    Just my thoughts; great post!

  4. *some scary for those who aren't, etc. etc.

  5. Like one of the above commenters said, it has to do with the forever love thing. Alot of those kinds of paranormal books have heroes who develop undying love an devotion for the heroine. I guess it's the thrilling thought of having some powerful creature loving and protecting lil old me XD

    They do annoy me immensely though. Especially twilight because it usually reduces te heroine to dependent and whiny.

    I love paranormal romance as long as it comes with some angst. That is, the issues that come with loving something that has no humanity and the morals ied into that.

    The closest thing to a zombie book is the Revenants series by Amy Plum were the characters die an are reborn repeatedly. I apologize for the super long post X3 books excite me


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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