Twilight “read-alikes” keep teens turning pages

by Alicia Rudnicki, Library Mix

Just try to check out a copy of a Stephenie Meyer book at your local library without putting your name on the hold list. It’s a dare!

Bitten by the genre
You may need to select a “Twilight read-alike” instead. For those who’ve been bitten by the vampire genre, there are a number of links to tempting read-alike book lists at the end of this article.

These lists are proliferating on library websites nationwide since librarians want to keep this literacy-encouraging trend going. If it’s fangs teens want, then its fang fiction they’ll get.

Romance of vampires and werewolves
Just in case you aren’t familiar with Meyer, she is the author of the Twilight series, a quartet of romantic novels—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn—that involve not only vampires but werewolves.

The saga has been so popular that sales of the four novels accounted for 16% of all U.S. book sales in the first quarter of 2009, according to U.S.A. Today. Meyer’s books ruled the top four spots in the newspaper’s bestseller list until early May.

I just finished reading New Moon, which I obtained one month after placing a hold on it at a local library. Yes, I enjoyed it. Yes, I want to read the next book in the series, which is Eclipse. This says a lot about Meyer’s storytelling magic since I usually dislike sagas as much as vampires dislike sunlight.

Meyer’s novels defy gravity
However, as of the writing of this article, all 99 of Jefferson County Library’s copies of Eclipse were checked out and 112 readers were waiting to get their hands on it. Arapahoe Library District had 53 copies out and 56 patrons who had placed holds. Interlibrary loan? I had no success with it.

This isn’t a complaint. It is a demonstration: similar to all the books in Meyer’s Twilight series, Eclipse continues to defy gravity and never land on a library shelf.

I began reading Meyer’s books, in part, to explore the question of why vampire novels are so popular with teens these days. Although the Twilight series has a strong following among pre-teens and teens, it is something of a misnomer to label it “young adult” fiction since that category typically encompasses much shorter and less complicated novels. After beginning my research, It wasn’t long before I discovered that it’s not just tweens and teens who love Twilight.

Real men don’t read Twilight?
Fans of the series range from pre-teens to grandmothers. Although readers are mostly female, there are boys and men who enjoy the books—a topic that I will cover in my second article in this series.

Furthermore, the popularity of Meyer’s stories crosses cultures (installment three in this series). The people and “immortals” of her books may be exceedingly pale, but many of her readers are far from it. For example, while working this spring with students of English as a second language, I discovered that Twilight and its sequels are popular with Hispanics.

What is the magic elixir that has made Meyer’s sales boom? Please read article four when it appears.

Finally, the last article in this series will detail some other young authors of vampire fiction, such as Emelia Atwater Rhodes who published her first novel while in her early teens. It will also wrap up the somewhat elusive question that began this whole search: Why do teens love vampire books so much?

Vampires attend beach parties and proms
The lists provided by the following links offer a broad array of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other supernatural creatures who mingle with mortal teenagers in the classroom, at the beach, and at prom. Although it appears that most are more likely to attract girls than boys, here are some titles for guys to consider.

Douglas Rees’ Vampire High is anything but emo and is written by an author who action-oriented boys can appreciate. Scott Westerfield’s Peeps and Uglies (not about vampires, but similarly appealing) also sound just right for teen boys. Westerfield says that in Peeps, he aimed for a story that is “icky, scary, funny, tragic, and (ahem) not sucky.” Finally a high school librarian with whom I consulted  identified U.K. writer Darren Shan’s wonderfully creepy looking Cirque du Freak series as being popular with the guys.

Twilight read-alike book lists for teens
• Arapahoe Public Library
• Boulder Public Library
• Denver Public Library
• Westminster Public Library
• Santa Clara County Library, California
• Steger-South Chicago Heights Library
• The Vampire Library

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