Sunday, November 22, 2009

How about Team No-Plot-Holes?

I kid, I kid...I don't actually advocate burning of the Twilight books. Unless, of course, I'm freezing to death. Or just really chilly. Now, like the guy in the above photo, I admit that I haven't actually read the series. I watched a bunch of people I follow on Twitter react with derision after reading the final book, and have heard from many sources that the writing is pretty abysmal. I may eventually read them, but don't hold your breath. Also? Robert Pattinson is really, really not attractive. Sorry. And watching someone while they sleep? That's not romantic and sexy. That's stalking, and it's both creepy and the reason we have restraining orders.

So! I thought it would be fun to post about five books that I recommend instead of Twilight, or to pick up if you've read Twilight and need another vampire / werewolf story to feed your addiction:

5. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
I put this one at number five because while I did find it enjoyable, I think it's one of the Discworld books that works better if you've read some of the others. Some of the books in the series can almost stand alone, and others are a bit more meaningful if you've already been introduced to the characters. That said, I don't think any Discworld book is totally inaccessible as a first encounter with the series.

4. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
I like that in Blood and Chocolate, the girl is the werewolf, and the boy she falls for is the human. Main character Vivian isn't completely without flaws, but I didn't have trouble putting up with her. The story has a little less impact to it than the ones I placed above it, but I do remember that I liked the book. I haven't seen the film version, but the wikipedia summary leads me to believe that the screnwriters took a lot of liberties. Might be a fun one to watch for creeps, though.

3. the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
Also known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries, this series served as the inspiration for the HBO series True Blood. I wrote a review of the first book, Dead Until Dark, back when I read it:  "The heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, is no Sunshine, but she's a good character. In some ways, she's similar to Sunshine, in that both are pretty ordinary girls--not geniuses, not knockout babes, not karate champions. Where Sunshine had a magical heritage, Sookie has a magical talent--she can read people's minds. Because of this, she has few friends and zero romantic experience. When she meets an "out of the coffin" vampire, things change, and before long, Sookie's trying to solve a mystery and stay alive long enough to figure out whether or not a vampire boyfriend is what she really wants.

My only objections to this story: unnecessary (in my opinion) murder of a family member, even more unnecessary murder of a pet, and a vampire named Bill. My friend Tamsyn, who gave me the book, pointed out that Harris was likely trying to create an alternate take on the stereotypical vampire tale. Instead of femmy glam vampires named Lestat or whatnot, she created a vampire who represented a typical 1870s American Southerner. I'm okay with that, but wish she'd called him Will or Liam or even William. I just don't dig the name Bill, having once had a horrible coworker by that name.

Pressing through my misgivings about the name turned out to be worth it, and the story was really enjoyable. I was surprised but not incredulous when the murderer was revealed, which is always really nice in a mystery. There was also one really unexpected and funny moment where it is revealed that a certain extremely famous, dead but occasionally still spotted singer still kicks around as a creepy pet-fancying vampire. I'm definitely going to look for the second book in the series the next time I'm in the mood for a sexy mystery."

Possibly best of all -- if you're looking for something to carry on with now that Twilight is over -- there are now nine books in the series. I sent my friend Rachel the first book and she called me a crack-pusher for getting her addicted.

2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I read this book on the recommendation of the fabulous Kerri Anne, and I loved it. LOVED it. The book makes a significant but not unwelcome change to the archetype, featuring werewolves whose transformation is triggered not by the full moon, but by the coming of winter. Unfortunately, the werewolves in question live in Minnesota, where winter doesn't screw around. Fantastic, believable characters and a tightly-woven plot made for a serious page-turner. I had this book with me the day I had to sit in the waiting room at the lab for four hours to have blood draws done, and the time flew. If that's not a hardcore endorsement, I don't know what is.

1. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
I absolutely loved Sunshine. Not only is it my favorite vampire book ever, but it's also probably on the top ten list of books I've read in the past few years. There's a slightly more extensive review over on my book blog, which concludes thusly:  I usually don't go for vampire stories, but I enjoyed this one immensely and would recommend it to anyone. It's got enough magic and undead for the sci-fi / fantasy fan and more than enough down-to-earth, believable characterization for those who tend to prefer non-fantasy fiction.

If you've read any other great vampire or werewolf books, please leave a comment. I'm always open to suggestions for new books to read!


  1. Shiver is one of those books I keep hearing about and promising I'm going to buy soon -- and then just forgetting to grab. But no more! You've inspired me. It's going on my must-have-quickly Amazon list, which is way different than the 100+ "I'll get to it someday" wishlist on BookMooch. :)

    I have first Sookie novel and read the first 10 pages or so... then kind of forgot about it. Again, thanks for the reminder! haha.

    I read and loved the Twilight books, but I have no qualms saying they're certainly not going to win any Pulitzers. They were just total escapism for me, which worked great at the time! Definitely like crack in my book! Oh, and while I'm confessing stuff? I have a raging crush on Rob Pattinson. Not sure what it is -- the Britishness? messy hair? broody demeanor? -- but I'm all over it! Er... well, I'd like to be all over it, if you know what I'm sayin'. :) LOL

  2. I sadly haven't read any vampire books prior to or after reading Twilight, but that's something I'm planning to do soon. I've heard some good things about the Sookie Stackhouse series.

    I was in a bookstore yesterday and started Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. The few pages I read were really good. I'm definitely going back to that one.

  3. It's funny, Meg, I *should* be all about some RP. My type is totally tall, skinny, dark-haired, messy-haired and slightly broody. But for some reason, he just doesn't do it for me at all! V. v. mysterious. Let me know what you think of Shiver after you read it. I was SO happy with it :)