Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spotlight List: Not Your Typical Vampire Book

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme.

Not Your Typical Vampire Book

Tired of the same old, same old when it comes to vampires? They’re dark, they brood, and they’re handsome, yada yada. That’s great but there comes a point when you might think enough already, right? Maybe you’re bored with vampires or just never really liked them in the first place. This list might be for you then. The following are books that take the basic idea of a vampire and then use that basis to create something completely different.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: August 25, 2005
Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 284

If you’re into biology, then you’ll love Peeps. Westerfeld creates a parasitic explanation for vampirism that is a nice counterpoint to all of the mythology-based vampire stories out there. In this book, vampires are so not sexy, resembling zombies more than hot guys. I loved seeing how Westerfeld ties in vampire lore (deadly sunlight, rats, etc) with his biological explanation. Cal, the hunky hero, is a carrier of the parasite. After unknowingly infecting three girls, Cal is determined to stop the transmission of the parasite by tracking down and capturing or killing the infected. This is by far my favorite Westerfeld. Interspersed throughout the book are little blurb chapters explaining various parasites. I found these grossly fascinating, but if they're too graphic for you then you can skip over them without missing anything. 

BTW, if you're like me and your mind is always on, this book has nothing to do with tasty sugar-covered marshmallow chicks.

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 263

Instead of living off of blood, these vampires live off of human tears. Cassandra and her family seek out grief-stricken humans and offer them a shoulder to cry on—greedily absorbing their tears. Cassandra sees nothing wrong with her life until she meets a boy who makes her long to be human. This book crosses genres, including many contemporary themes of grief, family, abuse, suicide, and bullying. The paranormal and romance aspects are of the Twilight/Fallen variety of easy come insta-love and glamorous paranormal creature. The contemporary issues and type of romance aren’t really my thing, so I didn’t love this book. Readers who do like those features will probably enjoy this fresh take on vampires (with a female paranormal!)

Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney
Release Date: September 17, 2010
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages 240

I haven't read this one yet, but it sounds like a funny take that pokes fun at vampire books. 

From Goodreads: 

Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls. Awkward and allergic to the sun, sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame never gets the girl. But when he notices that all the female students at his school are obsessed with a vampire romance novel called Bloodthirsty, Finbar decides to boldly go where no sane guy has gone before--he becomes a vampire, minus the whole blood sucking part. With his brooding nature and weirdly pale skin, it's surprisingly easy for Finbar to pretend to be paranormal. But, when he meets the one girl who just might like him for who he really is, he discovers that his life as a pseudo-vampire is more complicated than he expected. This hilarious debut novel is for anyone who believes that sometimes even nice guys-without sharp teeth or sparkly skin--can get the girl.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Release Date: 1954
Publisher: Orb Books
Pages: 160

Don’t expect the Will Smith movie here! Richard Matheson’s book is so much better (and so different). I Am Legend follows Robert Neville in the aftermath of a plague that caused the world’s population to turn into vampires. Here again science, not fantasy, is the basis of vampirism. This is a harrowing story that will really make you think. Topics such as evolution and the question of what makes a species dominant are presented in a way that is both compelling and heartbreaking. Because it’s so short, I Am Legend is usually published with a bunch of short stories. I tried reading a few and didn’t like them at all, but the title novel alone is well worth the sticker price. 

Warning: A dog dies! *sob* It's not as horrible as in the Will Smith movie though.

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 455

Though technically not vampires, the creatures in this book are are heavily influenced by the vampire myth. I can’t say anything else about the creatures because I’d be giving the whole story away, but suffice it to say I was expecting the same old sexy vampire shtick but was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the true nature of these paranormals. The mythology is well drawn and discovered by the main character in a way that makes for a fun mystery. My only complaints with the book are the Twilight-esque romance and the slow pacing. You can check out my Dead Beautiful review or more of my thoughts about this book.

Do you know any alternative vampire books? Please feel free to share in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for suggestions!

You can also head over to Splash of Our Worlds today for another Spotlight List!

Looking for more Spotlight Lists?


  1. I have peeps and the swequel the last days I just got back a few weeks ago because it sounded interesting, but I have yet to read them. I'm glad to see some others have heard of the book(s). It does sound like it has an interesting plot.

  2. I remember them from your mailbox! I loved Cal from Peeps. He's a character that has stayed with me. The Last Days I enjoyed, but not as much as Peeps. I think they should be read in order, but they're each stand alone books with different characters.

  3. I haven't read any of those though i know all of them. Bloodthirsty is at my TBR since seems really funny.
    I have seen the Will Smith movie. I hated when the dog died. Also the cover of the book is super creepy!

  4. This post is Full of WIN!!!!!

    I love alternative in vampirism. I LOVE I Am Legend! Sooooo much better than the film. I haven't check out these other titles, never even heard of The Tear Collector which honestly sounds grossly fascinating.

    I'll be checking back to see if other suggestions pop up. I'm thinking I need to make a GR bookshelf of these titles.

  5. I haven't read any books written by Westerfeld! I really want too and I always see them lying around at the bookstore, but there's always another book that grabs my attention more.

    That cover of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is scary! It totally would creep my out if I read it in the night. :( I loved the movie, maybe it was because of Will Smith, but I really loved it. I should try the book.

  6. I've heard Bloodthirsty is great, I have that one on my shelf waiting to be read:) I read Dead Beautiful and found that one interesting as well. Infinite Days might be another good one to add to this category, it's kind of a different take on vampires in that the vampire becomes human again instead of the other way around:) Thanks for sharing these!

  7. The Strain trilogy takes the perspective that vampirism is a biological virus. I do like that rather than fangs, they have stingers under their tongues, and it's the transfer of "blood worms" that truly makes vampires rather than merely being bitten.

  8. Very cool post!! Peeps looks scary but I'm really interested in The Tear Collector!!

  9. Great idea for a post! I enjoy a change from the typical vampire tale. I have The Tear Collector in my reading stack, it sounds really interesting :)

  10. I remember I wanted to read Bloodthirsty but forgot all about it! I loved the cover and the premise of it!

    thanks for reminding me!

  11. Hey, thanks for the mention of Tear Collector - PJ

  12. The Tear Collector sounds good! Love the cover. I really liked Dead Beautiful!! Can't wait for the sequel.

  13. Yiota, Aw, yeah, I hated the scene when the dog died too. The cover is very creepy. It doesn’t really fit the book (there isn’t any scene like that and I don’t picture the vampires that way), but I do like it anyway.

    Missie, Yay! Agreed 100% on I am Legend! I liked the movie version with Charlton Heston a lot more than the Will Smith version or the Vincent Price version, but even that one wasn’t as good as the book. I would definitely be interested in your GR list.

    Nina, I’ve read the first two books in Westerfeld’s Uglies series, the first book in his Midnighters series, and both Peeps and its sequel (though Peeps is a standalone). My favorite by far is Peeps. I loved Cal. :) Hehe, it is a creepy cover, but the book itself isn’t very scary. Well, not scary like the cover, but more psychologically scary. The book is very different and, I think, much better than the movie.

    Jenny, Oh yes, Infinite Days sounds like it would fit the bill perfectly! I still have to read that one. I’ve been dying for it ever since I read your book boyfriend post :)

    Bookish Hobbit, Yes! That book totally works for this list. Hm, I like the sound of the blood worms explanation. I love it when authors create plausible explanations for supernatural events.

    Lazy Girl, Thanks! Peeps was creepy! All of that parasite talk totally fascinated me and freaked me out! I haven’t heard much about The Tear Collector, so I’d be very interested in hearing your take on it.

    Nic, Thanks! Ooh, looking forward to your review of The Tear Collector. That one seems to be very popular in these comments!

    Alex, Me too! It sounds super funny. You’re welcome :)

    Patrick, You’re welcome!

    Julie, I like the cover too. It’s an interesting cover because it doesn’t depict the main character, but it relates to her and the story in a lot of ways. I’m curious to see where Yvonne Woon will go with the Dead Beautiful sequel. It ended abruptly, but I thought it was a pretty complete ending.

  14. Small- I'm a little late to comment but I found Crave to be a different vampire book. The vampires lived in family groups and hid from humans. And again the transformation was something in the blood itself. And this particular vampire was being used for medicinal purposes. I loved it!


  15. And yet again this spotlight post didn't appear in my Google Reader. Strange.

    This is the perfect list for me! I'm totally burnt out on vampires right now but I could get behind these books as a nice change and different take on vampires.

  16. Heather, Oh yes, I’ve heard of Crave! It sounds really interesting. I keep meaning to read it but, well, towering TBR :P Thanks for mentioning it!

    Aylee, That is so strange! I’m sorry it’s happening. I wish I knew how to fix it. I think my favorite ones of those are Peeps and I Am Legend. I really liked the biological spin.


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