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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!

True Confessions of a Former Slut Shamer – A Slut Shelf Giveaway

It’s true, I was one. A slut shamer that is. I judged you based on what you were wearing, calling you a slut in my head. You see, I fell victim to the lie that a girl, a woman, is only worth her sexuality. And it’s an insidious lie. So very deceitful because you and I – we are more than just how we look and whether or not we preserve our pure virgin snow white flower gift for a man on our wedding night.

“The problem with slut is when it comes to young, young girls,” she said. “Once that name gets attached to you. Like to a girl of 12? Boom. It ruins your life. You’re spending years getting over it.” But she said more. Slut also means that you’re nothing. That any guy can have you. That you have no self-worth.” – from Slut, How Do We Explain the Word to Our Girls

There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. I’m not sure how we let ourselves believe that what we do in such a small amount of that time completely overshadows all the other parts of our lives. And I’m not sure why we let ourselves believe that our sexuality is somehow all about men, about pleasing them and fulfilling their needs, as if it was wrong to have needs and desires of our own. We let ourselves believe the lie and we are teaching these lies to each younger generation. Slowly, I’m starting to understand how dangerous the lie is and why we have to change what we teach the girls that come after us.

“Every snarky suggestion for a woman to “open books, not your legs” or viral outrage and scorn over a leaked sex tape systematically reinforces a Rape Culture in which women can only belong to one of two exclusive binaries: the morally sound and intelligent virgin or the morally bankrupt, uneducated slut”. – Lauren Miller

Let me tell you when the real moment of change came for me. Several years ago I read an online essay by a “former slut” (her words, not mine). She was a girl who was very sexually active in high school and she was ridiculed and exiled for it. She left school broken, lonely and ashamed. The thing is, she also revealed that she was very sexually active because she had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse and she was trying to find a sexual experience that would make her feel safe. She needed to erase that damage that had been done to her and write over it with a new sexual experience. And that’s when it hit me: we never truly know what is happening on the inside of another person. This topic comes up again when you discuss Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller, which I highly recommend.

Then I also had what us religious types like to call a “Come to Jesus Moment.” In the Bible, there is a story about a woman at a well. The men around her call her a slut, basically. They say her punishment is that she must be stoned. And Jesus, well he just looks at them and says, essentially, if you are free of sin then you are more than welcome to stone her to death, who wants to go first? When we slut shame people, our words and our actions are those stones, and they hurt. They can forever shape what a young person thinks or feels about themselves, their sense of worth. And by picking up those shame stones we are suggesting that we have nothing of our own to worry about.

The worst result of slut shaming is the impact it has on our culture and how we treat victims of rape and sexual violence. You know how a news report comes out and says a woman was raped and you think in your head, yes but look what she was wearing. That is the most insidious lie that comes out of slut shaming. No matter how a girl dresses or how many times she has chosen to have sex, a girl (or woman and yes even a man) never deserves to be raped. Dressing a certain way isn’t an invitation for rape. Being sexually active isn’t an invitation for rape. In fact, there is no rape invitation. Rape is a crime and deserves to be investigated and treated as such each and every time.

The truth is, our culture sends very confusing messages to our young girls. We sexualize them day in and day out. We tell both men and women that girls are objects to be ogled and groped, sexual play things put on this Earth to satisfy the sexual desires of a man. And we tell men that they can’t help themselves because boys will be boys after all. And then, when a girl decides to embrace her sexuality, we turn our backs on her; we vilify her. Female sexuality has become a game that girls can’t seem to win. A confusing and dangerous game. Healthy female sexuality is good for everyone; it’s what we call a win-win situation for society.

“So that’s the thing about judging and labeling girls “sluts”. You put their sexuality on trial in a way that justifies sexual violence against them.” – Christa Desir

So I slut shame no more. Female sexuality is a healthy and normal thing. How a person dresses and when and who a woman chooses to have sex with is both none of my business and a infinitely small part of their life. It does not determine their value or worth. It is a personal choice and I can’t force my own values and choices onto others. And I know that there is no universe in which I deserve to pick up a rock and stone another. And no matter what, no one ever deserves to be raped.

Why I am I sharing all of this? Last week author Alexandra Duncan discovered that her book, Salvage, had been placed on a shelf in Goodreads labelled “Slut Shelf”. So she put out a challenge to do a slut shelf giveaway. Yesterday, #SVYALit Project author Christa Desir wrote her own post about The Slut Shelf and Sexual Violence, which is important and you should read it. She is also doing a Slut Shelf giveaway. And today we are doing our own giveaway that includes an ARC of the book The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher (and you should read Lourdes’ fabulous essay about this book here) and a signed copy of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (thank you Trish!!) Simply leave a comment between now and Friday at midnight to be entered. U.S. residents only please.

Talking with Teens About Slut Shaming
Slut Shaming part 1 and part 2
Discussing The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher