May 7th, 2009

Vampires, Zombies, and Teenagers, Oh My!

You don’t have to be a teenage girl to appreciate a good vampire romance. Fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series quite literally sunk their teeth into her tale of star-crossed human (Bella) and vampire (Edward) lovers to the tune of 42 million copies and 37 languages, leaving poor Harry Potter in the dust and teenage girls, their moms, and their grandmothers wanting more. The vampire phenomenon, however, is nothing new—from Dracula to Lestat, from Buffy to Bella (and Edward, of course) our fascination with the undead seems to never die…pun intended. And doesn’t it make sense that the devastatingly handsome and hopelessly tortured appeal to our dark side? Whatever the attraction, readers certainly have their choice of vampire lit—editors, agents, and publishers, prodded by the latest manifestation of vampire lust sparked by Meyers’ books, are printing series such as The House of Night by P.C. and Kristin Cast and the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries by Charlaine Harris with wild abandon. Perhaps it’s the element of escapism that keeps readers coming back for more, but one thing is clear: they are coming back and they definitely want more. Of course, not everyone was taken with the Edward/Bella romance, critiquing Edward as overbearing and Byronic and Bella as weak and downright dull. Young adult best-selling author Meg Cabot had this to say on her blog: “I didn’t take my husband’s last name when we got married. Do you honestly think I’d like a story about a girl considering changing SPECIES for a guy? No offense to any of you, but as a feminist, I just can’t go there.”

Another trend on the rise: zombies. They may not be as cute, but zombies certainly fit the bill as undead, tortured, and therefore, kinda cool. Though zombies may have an appetite to wipe out the human race, they have stories to tell…menaces to society need love, too. Expect to see a rise in all things zombie on the pop culture horizon. Even the classics aren’t immune: author Seth Grahame-Smith teams up with literary giant Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice and Undead: The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! According to Grahame-Smith, “People realize that zombies are likeable villains. You have sympathy for them. Zombies haven’t chosen to be horrible. They’ve been infected, and now they’re sort of doomed to walk the earth with this singular purpose of seeking out and infecting other people. So there’s something tragic about them.”

Whether you’re a vampire or zombie fan, or even if you find the entire trend rather bothersome and creepy, your local library has a book that will leave you thirsting (or hungry) for more. Check out the Staff Recommendations area of our new website, or fill out a Book Mate form by clicking here, and one of our librarians will send you a customized book list based on your preferences. And if you are a Twilight fan (42 million and counting), visit us at our Elkton Central or Rising Sun branches on June 19 at 6:30 pm, and see how the book translates to the big screen.

-Rachel Hannum


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