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.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network