Little Willow [userpic]

Booklist: Monster Mash

July 18th, 2006 (07:11 pm)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Law & Order: SVU theme song

Vampires, shapeshifters, and monsters - oh my! kibarika requested a list of contemporary YA novels that involve supernatural beasties. Here are my favorite urban horror titles written for teens.

Prowlers by Christopher Golden - PG-13 - ****

I have never read a book about shapeshifters that I loved as much as this book.*
I have never read a series about shapeshifters that I loved as much as this series.
(The first book in this series is simply called Prowlers. See full list below.)

At age nineteen, Jack Dwyer's best friend Artie is murdered. Not by humans, but by Prowlers, a group of ancient creatures whose handiwork is typically thought to be that of wolves.

But these are no wolves. They are animals, but their ability to think, their emotions and their need for revenge makes them as cunning as humans. Jack, as well as most of America, knows nothing of the Prowlers... That is, until Artie travels from the Ghostlands to tell his friend what truly happened.

Prowlers is positively riveting and inventive. I am very glad that it is the first in a new series, because even before the book was through, I was captivated by the villains, connected to the protagonists, and yearning to go on the prowl again.

The leader of the pack, Owen Tanzer, is determined to unite the Prowlers and make humans feel their power. Tanzer's right hand gal, Jasmine, is also something to contend with. It is as if Golden took Exotica from "Cats" and made her real, feral and evil. With her cocoa skin and orange eyes, Jasmine always goes the whole nine (lives?) yards.

Aside from Jack, my other favorite "good guy" is Molly. She embodies the 'final girl' syndrome from horror films: she must kill to survive. Golden always treats his female characters well, making them unique, strong individuals.

One of my favorite scenes occurs in a subway scene and involves jumping over turnstiles, fighting between cars, and a police cover-up. In other words, thoroughly modern Hitchcock.

The entire book flows wonderfully, pulsing along with the reader's heartbeat, causing them to inhale and exhale sharply with the protagonists, run with them, follow them through Boston, and come to conclusions both unexpected and life-altering.

Each main character has a distinct personality. Jack as the boy death left behind. Courtney as the older, injured sister. Molly as the spunk and the heart. Artie as the best friend and the ghost. At the same time, they are all victims: Jack and Courtney, of the car accident that took their mother's life and injured Courtney, thereby giving injury-free Jack a lifetime of guilt; Molly, of her upbringing, with her own mother issues; and Artie, who loses his life due to the Prowlers. The villains are just as multi-layered and captivating. They are cruel and come from an ancient evil, but they are also torn and distracted by their own loyalties and flaws.

The subsequent titles in the series are just as good as the first. This series should be read in order.

Prowlers
Laws of Nature
Predator and Prey
Wild Things

The last book is a whopper. It includes one of my favorite split-second scenes ever. I love it.

(Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to learn what inspired Golden to write Prowlers.)

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld - PG-13 - ****

This book wastes no time and jumps right into the action. It begins with a hunt for a vampire. Before long, readers learn than the main character, Cal, moved from Texas to New York, fell in love with a girl, and became parasite-positive. In other words, vampirism is a disease, and it can be passed from person to person unknowingly or otherwise.

I don't want to give away too much here. I want to encourage you to read this book. It combines horror and science, fact with fiction, and it is darkly funny.

The Menagerie series by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski - PG-13 - ****

The Menagerie is made up of legendary characters, each with his or her own powers and mystical, mythical origins. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a mage and leads the group. Eve, after falling from grace, became a vampire and now fights on the side of good, not evil. Teenager Danny is a changeling.

Also in the group: Clay, who is from New Orleans, was from Eden (yes, you read that correctly), and can take any form. I think Clay would be friends with Gambit from X-Men. He's neat. It's nice to have a shapeshifter that isn't evil or part-demon.

Read the series in order:
The Nimble Man
Tears of the Furies
Stones Unturned

IMPORTANT NOTE

I want to recommend one of my favorite books to you, Kiba, and to any of you reading this. However, if I place it on this list, its very inclusion will spoil an important part of the story. If you want to know, post a comment below and I will reveal the title to you.

POSTSCRIPTS

There are many comments below, because I have read a great deal of books in this vein - no pun intended - but because I love the genre so much, I am extremely picky about which titles I want to place on this list, within the actual post. For similarly-themed titles that I've read but didn't love, read the comments.

Comments

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
Notes for Kiba: I read but don't like these enough to rank these among those above...

VAMPIRES

Sweetblood by Pete Hautman - PG
A diabetic teen decides that vampirism is connected to her disease. Insulin dependancies vs. blood dependancies. She does research online and fairly freaks out her family and teachers. Are vampires real or aren't they?

Thicker than Water by Carla Jablonski - PG
The main girl is a cutter who starts hanging out with a Goth girl and going to Goth clubs. Why? Because she wants to belong. Why? Because she wants to defy death and rules as her mother fights cancer. Another book where readers will wonder whether or not the vampires are vampires.

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber - PG
She's Goth. He's a vampire - or is he? I liked it well enough until the end. There are two more books about them, Kissing Coffins and Vampireville, but I haven't read them.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
Re: Notes for Kiba: I read but don't like these enough to rank these among those above...

I read one book by Laurell K. Hamilton and knew it was not for me. Too racy.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
Notes for Kiba: I have not read...

Any of The Vampire Diaries or other books by L. J. Smith
Any books by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Any of The Last Vampire books by Christopher Pike

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
Notes for Kiba: 90s Thrillers

Various titles in the Fear Street series have vampires and other monsters. Some are better than others.

Various titles in the Goosebumps series, again with some better than others. You MUST read The Girl Who Cried Monster. I'm serious.

Various titles in the Nightmare Hall series by Diane Hoh

Ghost Abbey by Robert Westall - Okay, this is about ghosts, not monsters, but I just remembered it while looking up Nightmare Hall. It's the same era and same genre as many others on this list, and I read it often.

Vampire by Richie Tankersley Cusick

The trilogy by Caroline B. Cooney which we discussed earlier has been retitled The Vampire's Promise.

The old titles:
The Vampire's Promise
The Return of the Vampire
The Cheerleader

The new titles:
Deadly Offer
Evil Returns
Fatal Bargain

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)
It was okay, but not good enough for the initial list:

WEREWOLVES

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause - PG-13 - **
When this book was hot, it was flying off of the shelves at my store. It didn't impress me much. It was not poorly written, but it was not completely unique. So many stories with characters who are (semi-)monsters or (semi-)beasts deal with the struggle between modern life and the tribe - being a part of human society or being loyal to the family/pack/herd. Also, I care little for love triangles. I'm saying all of this so that you, the reader, can feel free to go read this book if it sounds up your alley. I have yet to read her other novels: The Silver Kiss (vampires), Alien Secrets, and Freaks: Alive, on the Inside! (as ALA stated, "performers with unusual physical characteristics") but I'd like to hear from anyone else here who has - Should I read them?

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)

You are welcome! Make sure to read all of the crazy comments.

Posted by: Emma (randomdent)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
books

Oh man, I loved Twilight. Did you know the sequel, New Moon, is coming out in September? I'm super excited.

Have you read Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series? I thought those were brilliant. The series starts out with Elena who's a werewolf, and then moves after the second book to a witch, then a ghost, back to Elena and then in the future there'll be books about a necromancer and a vampire as well.

I liked Laurell K. Hamilton's books to start out, but I think it just ended up being her own little fantasy world.

Posted by: Emma (randomdent)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
books

Oh and I'd love to know the secret book. I don't usually like to be spoiled, but if it's something you loved that much, I'd love to check it out.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC)
Secret Book

Scroll down and highlight to read!

* Innocence by Jane Mendelsohn *

Scroll up and highlight to read!

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Secret Book

I read the secret. I trust I will be able to get past the fact that it spoils part of the book to include it on the list because it is just a title so there's no indication of why it's on the list. Thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 24th, 2006 12:28 am (UTC)
Re: Secret Book

You are welcome. It is so good.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC)

I haven't read anything by Armstrong. What is the strongest subgenre? In other words, does it rely more on horror or on romance? If it is the former, hurrah; if it is the latter, I'll probably pass. I'm very big on plot and very disinterested in romantic entanglements. ;-)

Posted by: Emma (randomdent)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
books

No, it's definitely more horror than romance. That isn't to say there aren't any romantic entanglements, but it's definitely not the focus of the books by far. They're much more plot-driven. They're very good, you should definitely check them out. The first one is Bitten.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 19th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)

Excellent. Thank you.

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)

Which comes first, Predator and Prey or Laws of Nature? Your list says Predator and Prey, but Chris's site says Laws of Nature. Judging by publication date I'd assume the latter but I want to be sure before I go out and get the next one.

Thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 24th, 2006 12:30 am (UTC)

Prowlers
Laws of Nature
Predator and Prey
Wild Things

:) Thanks! I hadn't noticed I typed them out of order. I'll fix that in the original post.

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