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Teen Read Week, 2008

Books with Bite!

Books with Bite Guide Word Document Download

Books with Bite: A Guide for Librarians

    This year, the theme for YALSA’s Teen Read Week is “Books with Bite.” specializes in reviews for books about vampires and other creatures that bite and go bump in the night, so we’ve created this guide to help librarians getting ready to provide readers advisory in YA horror fiction.


 Vampire Fiction: Tall, Dark, and Immortal

      Vampires have been very popular in teen fiction for quite some time. A popular television series about a teenage slayer, Buffy Summers, introduced a whole generation to vampires and other creatures of the night. Books and graphic novels based on the series continue to be published, and now Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books are pushing interest to new heights. YA books usually aren’t “straight” horror. They generally have a mix of horror, adventure, romance, and occasionally, humor. 

      The vampire is one of the most romanticized creatures in the horror genre. They’re tall, dark, and immortal, and they always have perfect skin. As romantic characters, they bring a sense of mystery and danger to the situation, and often the relationship or prospect of one is tormented. Below you'll find a sampling of YA vampire fiction you can suggest to teens asking "What do I read next?"


 I Love You, But I’m Afraid I’m Going to Have to Stake You

     The vampire slayer who falls in love with a vampire is a common theme in teen vampire fiction.


 Midnight Predator and others by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes                                                                                                                                                

    Slayer Turquoise has an uneasy relationship with “good” vampire Jaguar.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer books and graphic novels


I Love You, But I’m Afraid I’m Going to Eat You

    The vampire who is torn between fear of his predatory nature and love of his soulmate is also a frequent theme in teen vampire fiction.


The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause.

     Zoe finds comfort in Simon, a vampire tracking down his mother’s killer.


Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

     Bella, a human, and Edward, a vampire, are star crossed lovers.


Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber

     Goth girl Raven finds the love of her life in Alexander, a vampire.


High Society

    Vampires, usually benevolent ones, living the rich unlife or attending exclusive schools.


Vampire High by Douglas Rees

     A humorous take on the vampire novel. Cody’s grades aren’t stellar, but when he defends a classmate, he is introduced into the hidden vampire society at Vlad Dracul Magnet School.


Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

     Schuyler, a student at the prestigious Duchesne School, discovers she is a “Blue Blood” without a past.


Vampire Beach series by Alex Duval

      Jason’s exclusive neighborhood turns out to be populated entirely by benevolent vampires.


House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

      Zoey has been identified as a potential vampire and must attend The House of Night, a vampire boarding school.


Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine

      Claire discovers the college of her choice is in a town populated by decidedly unromantic vampires.


Teen Chicklit with Fangs

    These are lighter titles interspersed with humor, where relationships with friends and family are just as important as action or romance.


Sucks to Be Me: The All True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) by Kimberly Pauley

     Teenage Mina is human, but her parents are vampires. When the vampire community discovers her existence, she has to make a choice.


High School Bites by Liza Conrad

     Lucy discovers she has been left a legacy- she’s the last in a line of vampire slayers. Her friends and family pitch in to make her a success.


  The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even and Good Ghouls Do by Julie Kenner

      The continuing story of Elizabeth Frasier, straight A student turned vampire.


Things Fall Apart

    In these books, events are spinning out of control for the main character. These titles don’t follow the same conventions you’ll find in many of the books listed above and can be very emotionally intense.


Sweetblood by Pete Hautman

     Lucy, a diabetic, is convinced that the origin of the vampire myth is linked to diabetes. Her grip on reality becomes more and more tenuous as she explores the “vampire community.”


Thirsty by M. T. Anderson

     Chris’ life is falling apart… and he’s also turning into a vampire.


Thicker than Water  by Carla Jablonski

     Kia feels isolated and powerless as she tries to find a vampiric cure for her mother’s terminal cancer.


Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

     Jordan’s ex-boyfriend Michael, now a vampire, is stalking her as she spirals deeper into darkness.



Werewolves and Shapechangers: Something Furry This Way Comes

    The werewolf is another popular horror icon that appears in young adult literature, although not nearly with the frequency of vampire books. Again, there is usually a romance angle in these stories.  


Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

     Probably the most well known teen werewolf novel, this is the story of Vivian, a werewolf, and her romantic relationship with Aiden, a human. Blood and Chocolate was also made into a movie in 2007, so it’s a great opportunity for cross –promotion. This book should be a core title in any teen horror collection.


The Wereling series by Stephen Cole

     Tom Anderson is turning into a werewolf, and along with werewolf girl Kate Folan, flees other werewolves hunting them.


Red Rider’s Hood by Neal Shusterman

     Sixteen year old Red is thrust into the world of the supernatural when he attempts to infiltrate The Wolves, a gang of actual werewolves terrorizing his neighborhood. This is the second book in Shusterman’s Dark Fusion series of horrifically reimagined fairy tales.


Bearwalker by Joseph Bruchac

    Baron has always been fascinated by bears, but on a class camping trip, he comes across an evil being that is all too real.


Zombies: Give Up Your Dead

    2008 has had something fun come out of the grave- young adult zombie novels. These are a unique addition to your “Books With Bite” list!


Generation Dead by Dan Waters

     Phoebe develops an interest in Tommy, a “living-impaired” teen and grows to care about undead teens and their struggle for acceptance in society. We recommend this as a core title for YA horror collections.


Zombie Blondes by Brian James

     Hannah, the new girl in town, finds that the cheerleaders aren’t just popular but also dead.  


Xombie: Dead on Arrival by James Farr

    Sentient zombie Dirge and his dog Cerebrus try to help Zoe, a little girl separated from her family, find a human outpost.  While not targeted specifically at a YA audience, it may appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys. The book is based on a Flash-animated online serial.


Killer Animals

    While most killer animal horror titles are aimed for adults, author Paul Zindel has written killer animal books and his creatures definitely have bite.  His killer animal titles include, Raptor (dinosaurs), Rats (killer rats), Night of the Bat (killer mutant bats), Loch (Loch Ness Monster), and Killer Reef (killer fish).


The Media Connection

    The horror genre is one of the most diverse subgenres in terms of media that it is present.  The subgenre appears in books, graphic novels, videogames, movies, board games, roleplaying games,  and internet webisodes.  The breadth, frequency, and currency of material in the horror genre presents a unique opportunity.

    There are many connections between books and other media. Supernatural and horror themed television shows have often been the source of series books that continue long past the last episode. Popular shows aimed at a young adult audience that have inspired books include:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

     Buffy Summers is a teenage girl charged with killing vampires and other monsters. New books based on the series are still being published this year, as well as comic books and graphic novels.

 Charmed (1998 -2006)

     Three sisters discover they are witches and battle demons and other nasties. The characters in this show are slightly older,  and the books have a “chick lit with fangs” feel.

 Supernatural (2007-present)

     Supernatural is a current show about two brothers travel from place to place, finding and defeating demons. The show has its own series of books.

     It’s useful to be aware of upcoming mainstream horror films as well.  Horror films are the bread and butter of the film making industry. The reason is that horror movies do not need big name stars in order to get people to see them. They are often inexpensive to make and filmmakers are able to successfully advertise to their target audience, which usually includes teens.  Sometimes young adult novels are made into movies, as in the case of  the recent movie “Blood and Chocolate” based on the book by Annette Curtis Klause, and the upcoming “Twilight” based on the popular book by Stephenie Meyer. These are great stepping off points for connecting teens to these, or similar, books.

     There are also young adult novels that can complement other media, without a direct relationship between them. One example of this would be the series “The Hollow” by Christopher Golden. These books take place in the town of Sleepy Hollow and might complement the movie “Sleepy Hollow” as well as engaging interest in the original story by Washington Irving. Here both the books and the movie have the potential to wake up a reader to what’s in his English textbook.

     Horror fiction is a great escape and has lots of connections to all kinds of media. It's a great way to engage teens, and readers of all ages, in gripping stories that can be approached in multiple formats. A good current example of this is the Flash-animated serial Xombie, now on shelves as a book, Xombie: Dead on Arrival, and also available in comic book format.  It's an exciting time to be introducing horror fiction, in its various forms, to readers of all ages. Have a great Teen Read Week, and keep reading!  







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