Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Which Trai Indulges Her Inner 14-Year-Old

I've started noticing something over the last couple days-- almost any series I showed the slightest interest in as a young teen is being reprinted. Either someone was watching me or I just had a good sense of what sells. ;)

When I was about 12, I was big into high fantasy-- unicorns, dragons, all that stuff. I started gravitating away from that a little when I was about 13 or 14. When I was 13, I started writing the project that was basically my baby through high school-- a project influenced by Harry Potter and X-Men, my own universe of supernaturally gifted children. In order to get a sense of the conventions of the genre, I read tons of books about gifted teens.

I had favorites, and I had ones that were okay but still a decent read. I dearly loved the two series Melinda Metz wrote, Fingerprints and Roswell High (the latter of which became Roswell, a television series I watched after reading the books and loved). Most of the series I read were out of print, and I had such a difficult time finding them (my very, very obliging mother and stepdad did so much eBaying for me...). Gradually, as I became older and entered high school, I started getting into adult fantasy. The first author I read of this type was Kelley Armstrong, as I've mentioned in recent posts. I tried others as well, like Laurell K. Hamilton, and found my absolute favorite, Carrie Vaughn, when I was 14 (eesh). However, when I finally started reading the classics at 16, I started reading more Jane Austen (classics) and Jodi Picoult (fiction), which led me away from the fantasy books and into a serious classics/fiction phase.

Anyway. I think the reason I moved into adult fantasy was because it was so, so difficult to find YA books with the type of story I wanted. I think I said in my first anti-Twilight rant that my 14-year-old self would have loved it back then. (It actually was out when I was 14, but I never heard of it until at least 2007, and by then I'd read enough adult fantasy to realize it paled in comparison.) Right now, my inner 14-year-old is raging at the amount of options teenagers like me at that stage have today! The last couple times I've walked into the YA section, I was stunned by how much of it was paranormal. Cue that inner 14-year-old crying at the unfairness of all that eBaying when kids today can just buy the omnibuses for $10! (*wanders away grumbling about having to walk uphill both ways in the snow*)

I'm sure all of this comes down to Twilight-mania-- demand probably increased tenfold for vampire and werewolf books, and I know a lot of parents are wary about even letting their children read the last book in the quartet, so I'm sure those same parents wouldn't let their kids read the books I was reading at 14. (Nothing explicit, but Armstrong's books had fairly detailed sex scenes, and even Vaughn's first book had a slightly graphic scene at the beginning. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my incredibly lenient and understanding mother...)

I'm realizing now, though, that this will give me a great opportunity to rediscover all the series I didn't read when I was younger and that I probably would have wanted to. Some of these I even had interest in, back when they were out of print and very hard to find. Since I really didn't read much fantasy besides Vaughn's books for the last few years, I dearly want to get back to my past passion for fantasy. I'm starting to do that by catching up with Armstrong, and I think I'll use YA books as little breaks for when I want fast reads that won't be as detailed and/or complicated as adult fantasy can get.

- The Night World series is one I heard about for ages when it was out of print but popular among 90s teens. It's now been reprinted into three omnibuses of three books each, and the never-released tenth book is coming out this year. I bought the first omnibus today and I'll try and read it soon. LJ Smith was a popular author who was out of print by the time I started reading this stuff. I did read one trilogy of hers, Dark Visions, in 2004 or so. (I obtained the books through eBay; the picture accompanying this post is the cover of the recent omnibus edition.) I remember thinking the books were interesting, but I was so dissatisfied with the resolution of the romantic relationships that the end of the third book was a Wall Banger. It actually reminds me of Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series that I've been following, when I thought about it. Similar premises. Anyway, all of Smith's series are being reprinted into omnibuses, which probably has a lot to do with The Vampire Diaries being a hugely popular TV series (probably because of the readers of the nineties watching it in addition to the new fans from the Twilight craze.)

- Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' books have been reprinted into one book with the whole quartet of vampire novels she wrote as a young teen. I considered reading these back in the day, but never got around to it.

- Elizabeth Chandler's Dark Secrets series has been reprinted into two omnibuses. I read part of one of the books and it didn't interest me, but the omnibuses are getting great reviews on Amazon. Since I wasn't a fan of that one book, I don't think I'll try it, but I was surprised to see it being reprinted since it was an obscure series. (This one isn't paranormal, BTW; I'm just using it as an example.)

- The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis-Klause has been reprinted with an attractive cover more like a lot of the YA fantasy covers today. I was always interested in this book and Blood and Chocolate since I heard rave reviews, and someone recommended it to me when I wrote a vampire-themed poem that got published in my high school's literary magazine.

This is just an overview of some of the books I have plans to obtain in the coming months. I'm really curious to see how these books, most of them from the nineties, are compared to the more recent YA fantasy, like Armstrong's Darkest Powers series (the third book of which is coming out in a few weeks, and which I'll be reviewing as soon as my copy arrives!). Plus, my inner 14-year-old is begging me to read the books I never got the chance to buy back then. I'll let you all know what she thinks. :)

- Trai

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