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Five by Five: 5 Speculative Fiction and 5 Contemporary Fiction Books that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fans Should Read

As a Buffy fan, I will often finish a book and think to myself, that would be a great book for Buffy fans. Sometimes the connections are obvious – vampires, zombies and demons, oh my! Sometimes it has more to do with the tone or the characters. The cast of Buffy had a certain snark about them that not every author can do, so when I find it done well in a book I’m always a little bit tickled. Sometimes, however, the book may not have a touch of paranormal in it at all, but it just reminds me of situations that Buffy and her friends had to deal with – like relationships or grief. So to add more great YA reads to Alexandra Duncan’s list from earlier today, I present you with Five by Five (Buffy fans will know what this means) – 5 more paranormal/speculative fiction titles and 5 contemporary titles that Buffy fans just may want to read.

5 Speculative/Paranormal YA Books for Buffy Fans

Unspoken by Sara Rees Brennan

Unspoken gets that balance of snark and pathos exactly right. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll curse Brennan for breaking your heart and then you’ll beg her for more. And then you’ll get ti because this is only the first book in a series. Kami Glass is in love with the voice in her head, and then one day he shows up. It turns out, he is real. And he is a part of the mysterious family whose secrets helped form the history of the town she lives in. When a body appears in the woods, Kami and her friends set out to discover the truth of the Lynburn Legacy. That’s the title of the series, by the way, The Lynburn Legacy.

Demon Derby by Carrie Harris

What if Buffy joined a roller derby team? That’s how this book reads. Casey joins a roller derby team for reasons, then it turns out not everyone on the team may be exactly what you might call human. Oh – and Harris does a great job creating a snarky, strong female lead that you’ll want to hang with.

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Remember that episode of Buffy where the girl starts to literally become a ghost because she thinks nobody notices her – Out of Mind, Out of Sight? If you liked that episode, this is the book for you. Here two teens who are literally noticed by no one are on the run from people who want to use their ability and train them to be assassins. Jennifer Lynn Barnes wrote another great read-alike called Every Other Day that you’ll also want to check out. Every Other Day involves a lead character who fights demons like Buffy, but only every other day because on the other days, her powers seem to disappear.

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Technically, this is more an Angel read-alike. And when you get into the book and find out more, you’ll understand exactly why. In an effort to exact revenge against all those who almost drove her to commit suicide, Edie finds herself part of a game where she doesn’t know the players, has no idea what the rules are, and it turns out the stakes are really high.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

This is hands down one of the freakiest and most atmospheric takes on demons I have ever read. A hurricane blows through town, killing Dovey’s best friend Carly. Except Dovey swears she just saw Carly. Soon Dovey is learning things about her town that she never would have imagined and trying to find a way to free her friend Carly from a life time of servitude to those who control the storms.

5 Contemporary YA Reads for Buffy Fans

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Buffy may have been an awesome friend and slayer, but she had horrible luck with the men in her life. First Angel lost his soul and then, you know, stalked her and tried to kill her, but not until he tortured and killed some of her friends. And then there was Spike and their deeply disturbing sexual exploits after Buffy came back not quite right. Bleed Like Me is about an obsessive, unhealthy relationship. It also involves cutting. It’s a bold look at what happens when girls are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of love that I think everyone should read.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder

This is another great read in the Buffy made the worst choices in relationships canon. Rae falls for Nathan. Nathan it turns out is very Angel without a soul/Spike like. She turns to a friend for support, Nathan is not willing to give up so easily.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Perhaps one of the most celebrated relationships on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that of Willow and Tara. It took them a while to come together and their relationship was strained – as all relationships are – by a variety of life experiences. Tara had her own past that she had to wrestle with. Willow was just coming off of a broken relationship. Everything Leads to You by LaCour is a beautiful story about two people eventually coming together, even as they must try and figure out who they are on their own.

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torress Sanchez

For me, the most profound episode of Buffy ever was The Body. Suddenly, our little gang was shattered to the very core of their being by this very tragic loss. Anya trying to make sense of this sudden change and the very Anya way in which she expresses her emotions just guts you to the core. Like our Scooby gang, Frenchie Garcia is struggling to understand a recent death. You see, a boy she has always crushed on killed himself – after spending his last night with Frenchie. With the help of a new found friend, Frenchie retraces their steps on that last night of his life to see if she can try to understand what happened, what she might have missed. Because she should have seen something, right? Some clue that this was going to happen so that maybe she could help him.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Although Buffy had a variety of ghosts, goblins and demons, at the heart of the story it was always about real life. Trying to fit in, finding yourself, working through relationships – these are all the underlying themes of Buffy. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully told story about grief and forgiveness, two themes that came up frequently on Buffy. A sister and a brother, twins, are left reeling after the loss of their mother. The mother’s ghost may or may not be appearing to help the sister work through that grief so that these siblings can forgive each other and find a way to move forward. This is hands down one of the most amazing books of 2014 and a meaningful exploration of grief and loss.

How about you – what’s on your list of YA lit that Buffy fans might want to read? Please share in the comments.

Great YA Reads for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fans, a guest post by author Alexandra Duncan (The Sunnydale Project Year 3)

I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer during my sophomore year of college, a year or so before the show went off the air. The war in Iraq had just started, my family was in the throes of pre-divorce drama, and my long-term boyfriend – now my husband – was living in another city half a state away. It felt like the whole world was falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it.

Then along came Buffy. Buffy wasn’t perfect. She cracked jokes when she was supposed to be training to hunt vampires, and sometimes her secret identity got her into trouble with her parents and teachers, not to mention cultists and bloodsucking immortal demons. But Buffy had a purpose. She fought pointy-toothed evil and won, though sometimes at a cost. She had an amazing group of friends, and they fought evil, too, even though most of them didn’t have superpowers. The show could turn on a dime between genuinely creepy (the Gentlemen), hilarious (kitten Poker), and tragic (Buffy’s mom’s death). Sometimes it was all of those things at once. Yet my belief in the universe Joss Whedon created never wavered. Real life is like that too, sometimes. It’s a drama and a comedy tumbled together. 

So, if you’re like me, you’re always on the prowl for something that reminds you of Buffyin some way. Maybe it’s the whip-smart dialogue, the bone-deep shudders, the doomed romance, the heartening sight of friends banding together to fight evil, or the sorrow that comes with death and regret. Maybe – if you’re lucky- it’s all of those things. 

Today, you’re in luck. I present to you 13 titles that capture some part of the Buffyspirit. The show might be over, but we will read on. 

  
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish MacBride

Eighteen year-old Sam is working at a fast-food restaurant in Seattle when he discovers his long-hidden true identity – he is a necromancer. Not only that, he and his new friends might be the only people who can stop an evil necromancer on the loose in the city, a necromancer who wants to recruit Sam and use him for his own nefarious ends. With plenty of paranormal activity, Whedon-esque dialogue, and a reluctant hero leading a ragtag group of friends in the fight against evil, this novel is a perfect match for Buffyfans.
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
From the moment readers meet pink-loving Evie, you know she and Buffy would get on like a house on fire, whether they were naming their favorite weapons, trying on dresses, or kicking evil’s butt. Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and she is not impressed by vampire posturing. She does, however, long for a normal life and maybe even a nice guy to go with her to prom. Too bad her destiny always gets in the way. Rejoice, readers: this is also the first book in a series.
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
After an unfortunate incident at prom reveals Sophie’s identity as a witch to the non-magical world, her single mother has no choice but to pack her off to Hex Hall, a reform school for troubled witches, wizards, and other creatures. There, Sophie makes enemies (a trio of Mean Girls worthy of Cordelia) friends (vampire roommate and fellow outcast Jenna), and tries to stop a series of attacks on her fellow students. But could Jenna be the attacker, or is something more sinister going on? Why are Sophie’s powers so different from her classmates’? And why do the hottest warlocks always have to be jerks? Sophie’s snarky voice is the perfect counterpoint to the creepy goings-on, and fans will be glad to know this book is the first in a series.
White Cat by Holly Black
Rather than alcohol being banned during Prohibition, in Black’s world, it’s magic that’s against the law. Skip forward to the present day. Cassel is the only non-magical member of his family of curse-working con artists and underworld henchmen. He also might be a murderer. At least, he remembers killing his best friend Lila all those years ago.  But when he starts sleepwalking and dreaming about a white cat – a cat that somehow reminds him of Lila – he starts to wonder if things are really what they seem. This first entry in the Curseworkersseries shares its tone with some of the more serious Buffy episodes, though there are plenty of creepy-funny moments sprinkled in. Lovers of Buffy’s darker shades and Anya fans will fly through this series.
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Sisters Scarlet and Rosie March are werewolf hunters. But these are no Zen Oz-werewolves; these are bloodthirsty monsters that stalk young women throughout the city of Atlanta. The sisters struggle with guilt, obligation, their own dark pasts, and, of course, axes as the werewolves run rampant. The final fiery showdown is worthy of one of Buffy’s fights with the Big Bad, and so is the combination of sibling rivalry and affection.
Devilish by Maureen Johnson
Buffy aficionados know better than anyone that demons can bring some high comedy. That is definitely the case in the story of outsider Jane and her best friend Allison, who attend a Catholic girls’ school. When Allison suddenly becomes popular overnight and starts ignoring Jane in favor of the (definitely demonic) Lanalee, Jane knows that she has to save her friend and her friend’s soul. What she doesn’t yet know is how high the stakes are and what the deadly Poodle Prom has in store. Devilish has Maureen Johnson’s characteristic quirk and wit, this time with supernatural elements. Those who enjoy it should look into her new Shades of London series, as well.
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Buffy always turned our assumptions about good and evil on their heads, and Peterfreund does the same here with unicorns. There is some truth to the old legends – only virgins can capture the creatures – but these unicorns are no harbingers of sweetness and innocence. They are venomous beasts who have no problem chowing down on humans with their razor-sharp teeth. When one of them attacks Astrid’s boyfriend, she finds herself shipped off to Italy to become part of a secret society that trains girls to become unicorn hunters. Is this sounding awesome yet? What are you waiting for? Go find a copy. Run like killer unicorns are chasing you!
House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
This one’s for the Scoobies. For young witch Josephine Hemlock, magic is about family and sacrifice. Haunted by a curse that killed her mother, Jo struggles to keep both her friends and family safe from the evil that has descended on her quaint, sleepy town. But can she protect everyone and stay alive? Can she afford to accept her friends’ help, even if it puts them in danger? If you enjoy this stand-alone, you’ll want to check out Whipple’s other fun, well-crafted novels.
Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino
Novels aren’t the only medium carrying on the Buffyspirit. This manga series follows Yuki Cross, adopted daughter of the headmaster at Cross Academy, where she also works as a guardian. Why does her boarding school need pistol-toting guardians? Because it is populated by both a “Day Class” of humans and a “Night Class” of vampires. Yuki was almost killed by a vampire when she was a child, so she knows better than anyone that when the two classes cross paths, there’s bound to be trouble. The only question is, can she and the other school guardians stop it?
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
This first book in a series by the same name takes sibling rivalry to the next level with the tale of twins Lia and Alice, one good and one completely, irrevocably evil. After the death of their father, the girls discover their part in a prophecy that could bring about the end of the world. One sister has the power to unleash evil upon the world, and another has the power to seal the entrance to the underworld for good – but who is who?

 
The Archived by Victoria Schwab

In Schwab’s world, the dead and their memories become Histories, stored in the Archive and watched over by Keepers and Librarians. Mackenzie Bishop has always wanted to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and become a Keeper, guiding confused and violent Histories back to their resting place. Since the death of her younger brother, though, things have become more complicated, especially when Mac discovers someone has been erasing the memories from Histories and her new home might be the sight of a long-ago murder. The gorgeous prose and singularly unsettling setting should please lovers of all things creepy.
Chime by Franny Billingsley

Briony is haunted by secrets and guilt. She’s a witch, and, after all, witches deserve death in her turn-of-the-century English town of Swampsea. But with the help of Elderic, one of the few locals who doesn’t shun the swamp, and the love her sister Rose, Briony begins to unravel the mystery of her family’s past and her stepmother’s death, something she has always thought was her fault. Rich, quirky writing and a beautifully dark atmosphere set this stand-alone novel apart.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

If you were a fan of the way Buffy explored the sometime-blurry line between good and evil, you’ll love this first book in Laini Taylor’s dark fantasy trilogy. Karou has grown up in Prague, spending her days as an art student, but going home to an avuncular, tooth-collecting Chimera named Brimstone each evening. Karou doesn’t know why Brimstone needs human teeth or how she ended up with hamsas tattooed on her palms, but when she starts finding handprints seared into doors all over the city and is nearly killed by a beautiful, deadly angel named Akiva, the mysteries of her everyday life begin to connect with her long-forgotten past. 

Meet Our Guest Blogger:
Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published by Greenwillow Books in April 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can find her online on her web site, Twitter, and Facebook.
About Salvage:
Salvage is a thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This is literary science fiction with a feminist twist, and it explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family.

Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean.

This is a sweeping and harrowing novel about a girl who can’t read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. What choices will she make? How will she build a future on an earth ravaged by climate change?

Named by the American Booksellers Association as a Spring 2014 Indies Introduce Pick. (Publisher’s Description)


Karen’s Thoughts: Both Robin and I have read this book and it is fantastic feminist Sci Fi with a female character and an intriguing storyline. It gets bonus points for the epic  adventure through space that our main character takes. Salvage would actually make another great read for Buffy fans looking for a strong female lead!

Embrace the Slayer: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (TheSunnydaleProject)

“It’s time for you to know who you are . . . ” – Jessica Shirvington

Last Saturday I told you about my absolute favorite Buffy readalike, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Today, I am going to share another readalike with you – the Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington (technically called The Violet Eden series).

Into every generation a chosen One is born and Buffy is our girl. She fights. She slays. She quips. But the deal is, she honors her destiny while staying true to the core of who she is. And girl can seriously kick butt.

Meet Violet Eden. She too has a destiny (please note the angel wings on the cover – it is a big hint). She becomes aware of it when strange voices begin to whisper to her. And then there is the matter of a strange tattoo that is appearing on her arm. Violet doesn’t know her destiny when we first meet her, but in some ways she has already been in training for it.

The Violet Eden series begins with book 1, Embrace (read my review here), and continues with book 2, Entice, which just came out this month. They are written by Jessica Shirvington and published by Sourcebooks Fire.


Embrace introduces us to Violet and Linc and a few other interesting characters. In Entice, we learn more about what, exactly, Violet is and what her calling is. It involves a hierarchy of angels, yin and yang, good vs. evil and the battle for the world – you know, Buffy stuff.

Like Buffy, Violet is a strong female character who has to make important choices. Not just once, but over and over again. And like Buffy, there are sometimes HUGE consequences for those choice, including who to love. Destiny is always a tricky business.

When I originally read Embrace, I was bothered by a scene in the book that I felt could be construed as rape and I struggled with how to contextualize it. But Entice helped me to be at more peace with the relationship involved. And a recent discussion about Spike over at Bookish Comforts helped me to remember that even Buffy had scenes that really bothered me but we can’t take them out of context because they are part of a whole story arc. Each new book is a new piece to Violet’s story just as each episode helped us flesh out Buffy and the Scooby Gang’s stories.

I also recently mentioned the cover for Entice in my post regarding ya lit book covers an the influence I feel they have on teen body image. And although I worry about the message of the cover, I reiterated even then that I really like the series.

But here is the really interesting thing about the series, The Mr. is a HUGE fan. When I came back from Midwinter, it was the first arc out of all the arcs I brought back that he chose to read after reading all the back covers. And the same thing happened with Entice. He likes the characters and says they are well developed (they are), he likes the action (it is good) and he likes the Buffyness of it (we are both fans). It just goes to show you, we can’t always predict what guys will like to read.

If you are a Buffy fan, you’ll want to be reading this series. Violet, like Buffy, is an example of a strong female character (a kick-butt girl) who can save the world. Like Buffy, she’ll probably do it more than once. And I am not the only one who has noticed the Buffy vibe to this series, the CW recently announced that it was developing this series into a tv show and the press release called out to Buffy fans. Violet Eden has answered the call to her destiny, you should answer the call to Buffy fans and read this series.

Please note: I already have a great programming idea put together for you with this book series.  You’re welcome.

EMBRACE and ENTICE GIVEAWAY

As part of The Sunnydale Project, I will be giving away my Embrace and Entice arcs by Jessica Shirvington to one lucky winner. Leave a comment with a way to get in contact with you via email or Twitter by next Saturday’s post for your chance to win.

Slayer Scavenger Hunt
Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!
  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
We really hope you have fun with this! We’re still finalizing the prize, but it’ll be worth participating for! An announcement will be made when all details have been finalized.