November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Vampires Get Schooled: Spine-Tingling Supernatural Reads for ‘Vampire Academy’ Fans

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Percolating with fast-paced paranormal action and fang-sharp one-liners, Vampire Academy (not yet rated), an adaptation of the first volume of Richelle Mead’s popular young adult series (Razorbill, 2007), hits theaters on February 7, 2014.

With Mark Waters (Mean Girls) as director and a script by Daniel Waters (Heathers), it’s obvious that these movie makers are no strangers to the snarkier side of high school. VAMPIRE ACADEMYThe story is set at a boarding school in remote Montana attended by Moroi (genteel mortal vampires) and the dhampirs (half-human and half-vampire) who train to become their protectors. After running away, best friends Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), a Moroi princess, and Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch), her rule-flaunting guardian-to-be, are apprehended and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, where they must rely on their special connection—a bond thicker than blood—to face the gossip and cutthroat social jockeying of their peers, as well as an unidentified enemy.

Meanwhile, the danger posed by the bloodthirsty Strigoi (evil undead vampires determined to destroy their more peaceable counterparts) remains a constant threat. Training hard with her hunky mentor, the gorgeous Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), Rose is determined to keep her friend safe, no matter the cost. Teens can stop by the “Vampire Academy” site to watch trailers, check out cast “hotties,” access music playlists, and catch up on the latest gossip; a visit to “The World of Vampire Academy” provides brief glimpses at the school’s history, courses, combat training, and more.Vampire Academy

Book Tie-ins

Film fans will be hungry to read—or re-read—Mead’s source material. Razorbill has reissued Vampire Academy (2013; Gr 9 Up) with an easy-to-spot movie cover showing the protagonists in full St. Vlad’s regalia (Rose wields a silver spike and plenty of attitude). Teens will be captivated by this heroine’s fierce loyalty, Vampire Ultimate Guidesassy courage, and scorchingly funny sarcasm, as well as the author’s spellbinding supernatural stratosphere and sizzling action. Whether they are just getting their first taste or have already devoured the complete series, young adults will enjoy browsing Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide (2011), recently republished with an inset of full-color movie photos. Lengthy recaps of all six books are followed by character bios, discussions of important relationships, and descriptions The Fiery Heartof the various vampire kind, and Q&As with Mead appear throughout.

Steer readers with an insatiable appetite for the VA world toward the author’s spin-off series, “Bloodlines,” which has just added another installment, The Fiery Heart. Those who like their storytelling seasoned with visuals will be intrigued by the “Vampire Academy Graphic Novel” series. Adapted by Leigh Dragoon and illustrated by Emma Vieceli, these offerings feature streamlined scripts, page-flipping action, and appropriately square-jawed, luminously attractive interpretations of the characters. The third volume, Shadow Kiss (all Penguin/Razorbill, 2013; Gr 9 Up), is hot off the presses.

Vampire Academy Movie Tie-inJam-packed with striking full-color photos,Vampire Academy: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (Penguin/Razorbill, 2013; Gr 7 Up) provides an insider’s view of the film’s making. Well-written chapters cover the journey from page to screen, production development, basic VA mythology, the screenwriting process, casting, locations, costume design, and more. Much of the text consists of interesting interviews with both crew and cast, shedding light on the duties and creativity of behind-the-scenes playmakers (from director and screenwriter to set decorator and dialogue coach) and the actors’ insights about their characters. Commentary from Mead, along with photos of her visit to the set, are also included. The handsome layout and appealing mix of slick screen images, concept art, and laid-back candid shots will grab the eye of fans.

Tales with a Bite

Coldest Girl in ColdtownLike Vampire Academy, the following thrillers feature take-charge protagonists, titillating danger, and heady romance, all fueled by magnetic storytelling and rapid-fire action. Display, booktalk, and recommend them to movie fans and supernatural fiction buffs looking for another great read.

In Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Little, Brown, 2013; Gr 9 Up), vampires have gone public: violent attacks are commonplace, YouTube videos of atrocious happenings abound, and vampire-hunting reality shows are popular fare. To stop the spread of infection, Coldtowns have been created across the country. Heavily guarded, these quarantined cities imprison vampires and their willing human prey, many airing live video feeds of wild parties and unthinkable acts that captivate the public.

When Tana, 17, awakens in a bathtub after passing out at a high school bash, she finds herself in a house full of blood-drained corpses. The only survivors are her infuriatingly irresistible ex-boyfriend, who is now infected, and a mysterious and mesmerizing vampire boy left in chains (and the vicious perpetrators who impatiently wait to emerge from their dark hiding place at sunset). Though traumatized and terrified, gutsy Tana is determined to save everyone and comes up with a desperate plan. Bustling her volatile companions into her old Crown Vic, she heads for the nearest Coldtown, where she will grapple with the possibility that she too might be going Cold (she was fang-scraped in the escape), confront unimaginable dangers, and face the maybe-monster that lurks in her own heart.

Black’s writing is at once acutely penetrating and opulently descriptive, harrowing yet humor-sparked. Readers will sink their teeth into the multifaceted characters, made all the tantalizing by their meaty and slowly divulged backstories. Gritty yet glorious, this vampire tour de force is riveting, unexpectedly romantic, and astonishingly soul-revealing. Also available in downloadable and CD formats from Hatchette Audio.

Blue BloodsLush artwork and succinct storytelling characterize the graphic novel adaption of Blue Bloods (2013; Gr 8 Up), the first book of Melissa de la Cruz’s supernatural series (both Hyperion). A 1620 diary entry chronicles the arrival of vampires in the New World, then the action flashes forward to modern-day New York City. Having always felt like an outsider among her glamorous prep school classmates, Schuyler is astounded to discover that she, like them, is a Blue Blood (fallen angels forced to live as vampires on Earth). Suddenly, new friendships, previously untapped abilities, and a burgeoning romance with an attractive guy seem to be on the horizon; however, a dangerous predator is on the loose, one that Schuyler soon realizes could destroy her kind.

Robert Venditti’s script keeps the action moving quickly, and Alina Urusov’s artwork effectively blends the bright and trendy with the mysterious and gothic. This enticing entrée may just lure readers into a fang-tastic series.

School Secrets

Set in the early 1900s, Carol Goodman’s tale stars Avaline Hall, 17, a chime child (born at midnight on New Year’s Eve) who has always heard bells whenever she was in danger. After surviving the mysterious suicide of her troubled mother, a deadly fire at the New York City sweatshop where she works (rescued by what she thinks was a boy with wings), and a shocking stint in Bellevue, she is no longer sure of her sanity. Finally reunited with her wealthy grandmother, Ava is determined to make the most of the opportunity to attend Blythewood (Viking, 2013; Gr 9 Up), the exclusive boarding school from which her mother was expelled.

Ava’s fears about how a factory girl will ever fit in with Blythewoodthe daughters of society’s upper echelon are soon eclipsed by an astounding discovery: the school is a training ground for an ancient Order dedicated to protecting mankind from the wicked inhabitants of Faerie. Goodman weaves a satisfying tapestry from rich and diverse threads: fairytale and legend, historical events and social causes, splendidly imagined secret societies, and shimmering fantasy and magic. Mysteries slowly unravel as Ava learns about her unique abilities and hidden-away past and investigates a frightening otherworldly enemy who may have had something to do with her mother’s death. She also begins to question the Order’s belief that all of the Fae are evil—particularly since she is falling in love with a raven-winged Darkling. Atmospheric, engrossing, and romantic.

Nightmare AffairMindee Arnett’s The Nightmare Affair (Tor, 2013; Gr 7 Up) blends a contemporary setting and chatty first-person narrative with an absorbing murder mystery. Daughter of an ordinary father and rather infamous magical mother, 16-year-old Destiny Everhart attends a boarding school for magickind, where she feels a bit insecure about her late-to-appear abilities. Like her mother, she is a Nightmare, a rarely found being that feeds off the dreams of others. One night she enters the dreams of Eli Booker, the hottest guy in her old school, and glimpses a harrowingly realistic murder scene at the Arkwell Academy cemetery, learning later on that this event has actually occurred. Apparently, Dusty her crush share a special bond—an ability that allows them to see the future through dreams—and the two are paired together (awkward!) to try to solve the mystery and stop the killer.

Characters pulled from mythology (everything from sirens, werewolves, witches, and demons to Arthurian figures), plot twists and red herrings, and just enough high school angst make this first installment in a new series a strong choice for kids who like their supernatural adventure brewed up with effervescent action and a light touch.

Night SchoolAllie Sheridan’s universe has been off-kilter ever since the disappearance of her brother, and when she is arrested for the third time in a year, her parents pack her off to a strict boarding school away from London and the influence of wayward friends. Though the rules of Cimmeria Academy seem draconian (no cell phones or internet) and the ambiance almost Dickensian, the 16-year-old gradually settles in, buckles down to her assignments, and makes some friends among her wealthy schoolmates (even catching the eye of a French hottie). However, all is not as it appears; for one thing, several of her classmates attend Night School (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks., 2013; Gr 8 Up), a covert training program that prepares initiates physically and mentally for positions of great power.

Secrets and deadly perils lurk in Cimmeria’s hallowed halls, relationships and romances may not be what they seem, and a foreboding foe threatens the school. Allie’s determination to get to the truth propels her into a danger-fraught adventure and startling discoveries about her own past. The first in a series, C. J. Daugherty’s page-turner brims with all of the gothic atmosphere, taught suspense, unexpected twists and turns, and an omnipresent evil of a supernatural thriller.

Publication Information

MEAD, Richelle. Vampire Academy. Movie tie-in ed. pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-360-0.

ROWEN, Michelle. Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide. With Richelle Mead. Movie tie-in ed. pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-757-8.

MEAD, Richelle. The Fiery Heart. “Bloodlines” series. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-320-4.

_____. Shadow Kiss. “A Vampire Academy Graphic Novel.” adapt. by Leigh Dragoon. illus. by Emma Vieceli. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-431-7.

SNIDER, Brandon T. Vampire Academy: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. pap. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-780-6.

Ea vol.: Razorbill/Penguin. 2013.

BLACK, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $19. ISBN 978-0-316-21310-3; Downloadable audio bk. $22.98. ISBN 9781478924708; Audio CD. $25. ISBN 9781478924692 (both Hatchett Audio).

DE LA CRUZ, Melissa. Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel. adapt. by Robert Venditti. illus. by Alina Urusov. Hyperion. 2013. pap. $11.99. ISBN 978-142313447-3.

GOODMAN, Carol. Blythewood. Viking. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-670-78476-9; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781101623473.

ARNETT, Mindee. The Nightmare Affair. “Arkwell Academy” series, #1. Tor. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-3333-9; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-3336-0.

DAUGHERTY, C. J. Night School. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219385-8; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219384-1.

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Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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