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: 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 is a New Zealander writing young adult fiction and living in Australia. Her debut novel, Guardian of the Dead, was an ALA William C. Morris Award Finalist and won the 2010 Aurealis award for Best Young Adult Novel. Her next book, The Shattering, comes out in July (ANZ) and September (USA).
No comments yet. Be the first!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current Issue
24 Feb 2020

tight braids coiled into isles and continents against our scalps
By: Mayra Paris
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Mayra Paris's “New York, 2009.”
This Mind and Body Cyborg as a queer figure raises its head in Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 epistolary novel This Is How You Lose the Time War, as two Cyborg bodies shed their previous subjectivities in order to find a queer understanding of one another.
Carl just said ‘if the skull wants to break out, it will have to come to me for the key’, which makes me think that Carl doesn’t really understand how breaking out of a place works.
Wednesday: The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman 
Friday: Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren 
Issue 17 Feb 2020
By: Priya Sridhar
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: E. F. Schraeder
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Feb 2020
By: Shannon Sanders
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 3 Feb 2020
By: Ada Hoffmann
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: S.R. Tombran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 27 Jan 2020
By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: