The first book in The Saga of Darren Shan is called A Living Nightmare. Again, this is one of those books that I knew about because kids always wanted to read it, but hadn’t read myself. It’s not very good.
I think what bothered me the most about it was all the exclamations of how scary things were. It was very “Golly gee! That boy was a snake and those people got trampled and the wolfman bit off that woman’s hand!” I also found the actual Cirque bits disappointing because they all seemed so easily faked. I realize that Darren Shan (who decides to become a vampire to save his friend’s life, but the friend is mad because he wanted to be a vampire so now he’ll become a vampire hunter and dedicate his life to killing Darren) is just a kid, but I don’t know. It all felt stupid.
The good thing about the shitty writing in this book meant I could read about Madame Octa (a really huge tarantula who could be controlled telepathically for some non-scary reason) without getting freaked out.
So yeah. Not a fan.
My reading list for this Fantasy & Science Fiction course (I’ll update it with links to the reviews of the books as I read them):
- Anderson, M.T. (2002). Feed. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
- Babbitt, Natalie (1987). Fantasy and the Classic Hero. School Library Journal 25-29.
- Balay, Anne (2010). Zilpha keatley Snyder’s The Truth About Stone Hollow and the Genre of Time-Slip Fantasy. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, (35) 2, 131-143.
- Black, Holly (2002). Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. New York: Simon Pulse.
- Card, Orson Scott (1985). Ender’s Game. New York: Tor.
- Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press.
- Cooper, Susan (1973). The Dark is Rising. New York: Atheneum.
- Farmer, Nancy (2002). The House of the Scorpion. New York: Atheneum.
- Farmer, Nancy (2004). The Sea of Trolls. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
- Gaiman, Neil (2008). The Graveyard Book. New York: HarperCollins.
- Goodman, Alison (2003). Singing the Dogstar Blues. New York: Viking.
- Heinlein, Robert (1977). Have Spacesuit Will Travel. New York: Ballantine. (originally published 1958).
- Jacques, Brian (1986). Redwall. New York: Philomel Books.
- Laetz, Brian & Joshua J. Johnston (2008). What is Fantasy? Philosophy and Literature, 32(1), 161-172.
- LeGuin, Ursula K. (1968). A Wizard of Earthsea. New York: Bantam Books.
- L’Engle, Madeleine (1962). A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
- Lowry, Lois (1993). Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- Lewis, C.S. (1994). The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperTrophy. (originally published 1950).
- McKinley, Robin (1984). The Hero and the Crown. New York: Greenwillow Books.
- Nodleman, Perry & Mavis Reimer. (2003). The Repertoire of Theory, The Pleasures of Children’s Literature (3rd ed.) (pp.218-250). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- O’Brien, Robert C. (1975). Z for Zachariah. New York: Atheneum.
- Paolini, Christopher (2003). Eragon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Pearson, Mary (2008). The Adoration of Jenna Fox. New York: Henry Holt.
- Pullman, Philip (1996). The Golden Compass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Riordan, Rick (2005). The Lightning Thief. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
- Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.
- Shan, Darren (2001). A Living Nightmare. Boston: Little Brown.
- Slade, Arthur (2009). The Hunchback Assignments. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
- Sleator, William (1984). Interstellar Pig. New York: Dutton.
- Thompson, Deborah L. (2001). Deconstructing Harry: Casting a Critical Eye on the Witches and Wizards of Hogwarts. In S. Lehr (Ed.), Beauty Brains and Brawn: The Construction of Gender in Children’s Literature (pp.42-50). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
- Vande Velde, Vivian (1999). Never Trust a Dead Man. San Diego: Harcourt.
- Westerfeld, Scott (2009). Leviathan. New York: Simon Pulse.
There’s some stuff on there I’ve read before, but not for ages and ages. I remember Interstellar Pig so fondly, and the Graveyard Book is awesome. This is going to be a fun term.
Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist is pretty freakin’ great. It’s a vampire novel… no wait, don’t stop reading. It’s not emo-vampire crap like Twilight or “Vampires are just like regular people but sexy” like True Blood. It’s about a cursed monster and is suitably horrible.
Let Me In is about a vampire that moves into a suburb of Stockholm in 1981. The vampire appears to be a twelve year old girl and she has a guy who appears to be her father who goes out and harvests blood for her (which is tricky because the victim needs to be alive as it’s getting bled out). He’s also a pedophile who’s being manipulated by the vampire’s knowledge of his lusts. The main protagonist is a 12-year-old boy who is their neighbour. He gets bullied and wets himself and dreams of being able to kill his persecutors. There’s also an assortment of drunks who’re trying to figure out what’s going on after one of their friends disappears. They’re like the completely inept and unsuitable Van Helsing squad, in that they behave the way a bunch of losers would.
This (Swedish) book was turned into a (Swedish) movie, Let The Right One In, which is supposed to be scary and great and is how the book came to my attention. They’re also doing an American remake of the movie (called Let Me In) which pleases me not a lot.
I’d hoped to be able to recommend this as an antidote to teens who say they like vampire novels because they read Stephenie Meyer or Darren Shan, but all the pedophilia and graphic disfigurement probably makes it way inappropriate. It’s too bad though because the vampire is suitably monstrous. It reminds you there’s a downside to the whole eternal life deal. Plus there’s some good ol’ redemptive violence to make you feel good at the end.