Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thirsty for new teen fantasy?

It's been two months since the New Moon movie adaptation was released - plenty of time to hit the multiple viewing overdose; and six months until Eclipse comes out. What's a vampire fiction lover to do now? Clearly, it's time for a round up of new fantasy adventure books for the Twilight/Harry Potter addict in your life. You can find most of these titles in our "Books with Bite" display in the chapter book room.

Supernatural Romance

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
This sophisticated fantasy follows Grace and too-cute Sam through their blossoming romance. There’s only one problem: Sam’s a werewolf. When the temperature drops, Sam and his pack transform from human to wolf, and each wolf only gets so many years before the change is permanent. To make matters worse, rogue werewolves roam the woods surrounding their small hometown, biting their neighbors and friends. Sam and Grace’s alternating narratives heighten both the character development and the sense of desperate suspense.

Vampires have been sexy and edgy for a good long time now, but why don't werewolves get any love? If you're a "Team Jacob" type, this is the read for you. I'm already antsy for the sequel Linger, which will be out in July. -- Katie

Captivate by Carrie Jones
The sequel to Need, Captivate returns to a rural part of Maine inhabited by pixies and weres. The shape-shifting weres are bound to protect humans from pixies, who are definitely baddies: they kidnap teenage boys for their dinners and force human women to be their queens. Zara lives uncomfortably in the middle; she's part-pixie herself, with a werewolf boyfriend. (I'm on a pro-werewolf campaign, apparently.) -- Katie

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
As you may remember from an earlier post, the cover of this book grabbed me: Astrid’s intense glare, sword blade a la Graceling, and the unicorn in its reflection! From what I’d seen on the author’s blog, Rampant had gone through many covers, each seeming a completely different genre (my favorite might have been the romance one, with tongue-in-cheek tone nodding to The Princess Bride). The book did live up to its dramatic cover, and that is the key word here… shocking amounts of drama.

Astrid has been trying to ignore her mother’s tales of bloodthirsty, man-eating unicorns, and their ancestors who hunted them. It’s only when her boyfriend is gored by a lesser species of unicorn (by page ELEVEN) that Astrid must face the truth about these one-horned beasts. Astrid is speedily outcast from her comfortable social position – which makes her immediate packing off to unicorn-killer training camp in Rome a tiny bit more palatable. Once installed in the decrepit former convent, she meets an array of unicorn hunter descendants, from obsessed Cordelia, with a dark past, to Astrid’s cousin, Phil, who seems out for just adventure (and dates with Italian men). The characters are likable, and their discussions about the ecological and moral repercussions of hunting any beast to extinction and the problem of negotiating the commitment of being a virgin hunter with modern dating are treated surprisingly well. I did have trouble suspending disbelief in a world that was so quickly and roughly established, especially with the hurried conclusion and the almost caricature-like behaviors of some adults. But really, when it comes to killer unicorns and eating gelato with handsome Italian men, I’m willing to forgive some ridiculous drama – I was entertained, and that’s what counts.
-- Michelle

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy: City of Bones, City of Ash, and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
When Clary's mother disappears, she's astonished to discover an underground world of fallen angels, demons, and demon-hunters - and her own family's part in it. Shadowhunters Jace, Isabelle and Alex promise to help her, but the price of their friendship is more danger and intrigue. Soon the lives of everyone Clary loves, from her mother and her best friend Simon, to her almost-dad Luke and her new-found allies, dangle dangerously in the balance between good and evil. The second and third volumes add inner demons to Clary's long list of adversaries as she's racked with remorse over the fate of a friend and forbidden desires. Magical creatures, mystical tattoos, arcane weapons, thwarted romance, prophecies and plot twists will have you wanting to be a Shadowhunter when you grow up. -- Katie

The Vampire Diaries series: The Awakening and The Struggle by L.J. Smith
Before Angel and Buffy, Edward and Bella came Stefan and Elena - a vampire with a conscience and his mortal girlfriend. Unlike Bella, who's forced to choose between two gentlemen, Elena is torn between Stefan and his bad-boy brother, Damon. The brothers' centuries-old feud puts Elena at risk, just as a malignant force descends upon their small town. Smith originally published the first book, The Awakening, in 1991, but the series was recently reissued with new photographic covers in conjunction with The Vampire Diaries TV show. The latest volume, The Return: Nightfall, was published early last year and will come out in paperback in May. -- Katie

For more forbidden romance, try:
Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
Nightworld and Dark Visions by L.J. Smith
Thirst by Christopher Pike (an omnibus of The Last Vampire series)

Fallen angel romance is the up-and-coming vampire romance...try:
Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick
Fallen by Lauren Kate

Dark Tales

The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
In a town with no women, where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts, Todd is a month away from becoming a man. When he and his dog Manchee suddenly come across a silent spot in the Noise, though, everything Todd thought he knew about the world is proven wrong. Volumes 1 and 2 of the Chaos Walking series follow Todd, Manchee, and a girl named Viola along the dangerous and twisted path toward saving their world from falling into darkness. These unique and brilliantly written books expose the moral ambiguities of hatred and terrorism, the strength of loyalty and love, and package it all in a thrilling post-apocalyptic sci-fi narrative. -- Rachel

For more dark fantasy stories, try:
Good Neighbors: Kith and Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (graphic novel, faery)
Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler
Fell by David Clement-Davies (werewolves)
Forest of Hands and Teeth and the sequel The Dead-Tossed Waves, due in March, by Carrie Ryan (zombies)


Ash by Malindo Lo
Ash is alone in the world; her parents are dead, her stepmother is cruel, and her only solace is a mysterious and beautiful stranger who walks with her in the Wood. That is, until she meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress. Now she must find a way to fulfill a bargain without betraying her heart. Cinderella as never before. -- Rachel

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
Before we really talk about this book, I have to confess that since I have not actually read Goethe’s Faust, I cannot make any legitimate comparisons. But really, from what I can tell of the original, Another Faust is not a retelling of Goethe, but a contemporary re-imagining of the question: What would you sell your soul for? A re-imagining that fuses supernatural drama with mean girl literature, creating a genre I haven’t encountered before.

Five children – desperate or lonely, poor or neglected – across the world disappear one night. No one notices. No one remembers they had even existed. Five years later, with the help of their mysterious governess Madame Vileroy, five teenagers walk in to elite Marlowe School and slowly, subtly wreak havoc with tricks that only begin with cheating, lying, and stealing. Each has a special gift bestowed by Vileroy, which they use to manipulate those around them, with varying consequences. I found the group’s complicated relationships the most fascinating, and repulsive, here. While their individual battles with their insecurities and selfish desires were detailed and of course, important to the plot, I was compelled by the tension between the fallen and the innocent sisters, the constant competition to be Vileroy’s favorite, and their cruel manipulations of each other and their peers. I don’t read the Gossip Girl novels or anything in that mean girl genre, but Another Faust seems like a raw look at that kind of self-preserving/self-harming behavior. I rarely felt much sympathy for the characters, even the more innocent ones, and at times I couldn’t believe the extent of their desperation and cruelness.

Still, I want to believe that’s the point: even if we readers consider ourselves relatively innocent, “evil” is not necessarily an extreme only a few succumb to, it’s a long path that can begin with some of humanity’s unfortunately natural emotions. I’m not sure that the dramatic cover matches the content, though I do like the glowing moths touch. The kind of audience that would be drawn to a photo of beautiful teenagers in elegant dress might like the petty school hierarchy, but not be taken in by the Devil-soul device. Likewise, the reader who may enjoy the supernatural aspects might avoid the vampy, prom night atmosphere. In the end, I wouldn’t call this book entertaining, per se, there was too much emotional manipulation for my taste, but it was interesting and certainly a creative genre blend. -- Michelle

For more spins on familiar fairy-tale motifs, try:
Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logstad (Beauty and the Beast)
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (Snow White and Rose Red; new in paperback in February)
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (Shakespeare)
The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

Make sure to revisit our retold fairy tale round-up for some of our other best-loved takes on these traditional tales.

We hope that slakes your thirst for the time being...

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