Size / / /

I recently discovered, very late to the party, The Vampire Diaries TV series.

I'd seen the first three episodes when they first came out and was unimpressed. People assured me that at the fourth episode, things really took off, but I was skeptical. Then fellow young adult author Sarah Rees Brennan made it her personal mission to make me watch.

So I bought the DVD set of the first season (this is how late I was to the party; the DVD set had time to come out in Australia) and, on a night when I was bored, watched the fourth episode.

The second it finished, I jumped online.

ME: SARAH THIS SHOW IS AMAZING!
SARAH: I KNOW.
ME: I will never doubt you again! Except I am still a little dubious about bacon butties.

The Vampire Diaries: This show has nearly everything I love. Teenagers acting like teenagers, but not like children. Genuine twists and turns—there's an entire LOST season's worth of plot in nearly every episode. A plethora of interestingly complex female characters who have interestingly complex relationships with each other (a point admittedly dulled by the show's willingness to kill off large numbers of said characters). And vampires. Mmm, vampires.

Of course, many young adult commentators are appalled by vampirism's popularity. It's a trend! Mindless teenagers are consuming tasteless pap! Better books/TV series/movies are being brushed to the wayside in favour of those toothy-jawed smirkers!

Well, I adore many trends that are supposedly overplayed but actually classic favourites. And, much like Meat Loaf, bright red lipstick, and jelly shoes, vampires are awesome, and I hope they stick around forever. Haters to the left, where they may bite me.

Vampirism is a fabulous metaphor for a lot of things that often happen in adolescence: physical transformation; new temptations and cravings; intensity of emotion; uncontrollable desires. Also, vampires are sexy, sexy danger, and while in real life, dangerous people are not at all sexy and ought to be avoided if possible, they can be a lot of fun in fantasy. Fantasy is a safe way to play around with the notion of the redeemable monster, the terrible being that nevertheless loves and protects the right person.

Of course there are a lot of terrible YA vampire books; there are a lot of bad books in every genre and sub-genre. Publishers are not averse to money, and if they think teenagers will buy any old crap, they will happily publish it. Teenagers are, of course, a lot more discerning than they are generally given credit for, but moreover, they often prioritize different aspects of their reading material. And honestly, given that all assessment of art is subjective, who are adults to scoff and judge? Why shouldn't a thrilling romance be more valuable than stunning prose? Why can't hilarious shenanigans with rhinestone-decorated stakes be more fun than an intricately worked original magic system?

Or, you know, you could have both.




Karen Healey teaches high school, writes genre fiction, and ignores her dishes in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her most recent publication is "Where We Walk, We Walk on Bones", in the NZ sff anthology Monsters in the Garden.
Current Issue
19 Feb 2024

That was Father—a storm in a drought, a comet in the night. Acting first, thinking later, carried on not by foresight, but on luck’s slippery feet. And so we were not as surprised as we should have been when, one warm night in our tenth year on the mountain, Father showed us the flying machine.
The first time I saw stone and Bone in ocean
This is it. This is the decision that keeps you up at night.
Wednesday: How to Navigate Our Universe by Mary Soon Lee 
Issue 12 Feb 2024
Issue 5 Feb 2024
Issue 29 Jan 2024
Issue 15 Jan 2024
Issue 8 Jan 2024
Issue 1 Jan 2024
Issue 18 Dec 2023
Issue 11 Dec 2023
Issue 4 Dec 2023
Issue 27 Nov 2023
Load More
%d bloggers like this: