Friday, October 31, 2008

Books That Go Bump In The Night

It's Halloween, baby. Samhain. All Hallowes Eve. The holiday that put the "death" in Death Pixie and my most favoritest day of the year! I thought it would be an excellent time to chat about some books that are so good they're spooky and so spooky they're good. I love paranormal. Pretty much, if it involves vampires, werewolves, zombies, or ghosts, I'll read it. Sometimes, it sucks. But sometimes you find something wonderful. Here are my recent favorites:
Generation Dead, Daniel Waters debut novel, is set in an America where some people who die as teenagers inexplicably come back to life as zombies. These kids have trouble moving and speaking and face huge amounts of prejudice from a society that fears them. But some of them continue to go to high school and try to lead normal "lives." Although the premise is outrageous, the book is an emotionally real story of how one group of friends goes from being apathetic towards the zombies, to being advocates for zombie rights. As a mom of a special needs kid and as a queer person, I resonated with this story of teenagers uniting against hate crimes. Plus, I love it when authors let their character's blog, and Water's character Tommy has an awesome blog at
Night Road, by A.M. Jenkins is one of those vampire books that takes it to a whole nutha level. Her vamps, called "hemes" are afflicted with a disease that makes them crave blood and allows them to live forever. Hyper-cautious, disconnected Cole is saddled with the training of a newly made rookie heme named Gordon and, through that responsibility, comes to realize that, although his life has quantity, it doesn't have quality. The characters are extremely well drawn and there is a less-is-more, indie movie aesthetic about the book-- a lot of it takes place in cars and motel rooms in the middle of the night, and the characters have no choice but to deal with each other and themselves.
And speaking of vampire books that are unique, Scott Westerfeld's Peeps and The Last Days
(stand-alone novels set in the same reality) give a fantastic scientific explanation for all the elements of the vampire myth-- plus lots of subterranean adventure, creepy cats, non-fiction asides about parasites, and the chance to revel in your rock star fantasies. What other books offer all that in one package?
But what if Halloween for you is not so much about monsters? Maybe fall is more a time to reflect on life, death and the afterlife? Then have you read Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere? It offers a brilliantly original vision of life after death-- which is a lot like life before death, except that we age backwards and have avocations instead of jobs. This lovely, literary novel is about
moving on, forgiving, and embracing life and it made me cry. Nuff said.
I could go on forever about paranormal books that make my day. But what about you? Any favorites? I hope you curl up with one tonight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova at the moment, which is about Dracula, and seemed appropriate for this time of year. So far it's good and creepy, but not so much that I can't go to sleep at night. Kostova is ratcheting up the tension, though, slowly but surely, and I imagine I will devote a good portion of my weekend to finishing it.

It's made me want to go back and read all the classic horror novels - Frankenstein, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, etc. I love the way those books mix the real and the supernatural, and leave you with that tingling "this could be true" feeling. . .