Over the past five years, whether you gave in to the hype or not, you’ve probably asked yourself at least once: what is it about the Twilight trilogy that has people pulling all-nighters, camping out to ensure that they get into the first screening of its film adaptations, and sending hate mail to the actress who plays Bella Swan in the movies when she publicly cheats on her real-life boyfriend who just so happens to be the actor who plays Edward? Well, I think I’ve boiled it down to this:
passionate romance + fantastical/paranormal element + sheer volume of pages = YA blockbuster.
In which case, it seems that the ten authors below have figured it out, too. And thank goodness, because now that Stephanie Meyer has declared the Twilight series complete, and the last movie is in theatres TODAY I need something new to read!
1. The Dark Heroine by Abigail Gibbs
I cannot stress this enough. This. is. the. book. What book, you ask? If you’re experiencing a Twilight book hangover, or looking for more ways to fill the sexy-vampire-romance void in your heart, then The Dark Heroine by Abigail Gibbs is the book to read. Now. Its protagonist, Violet Lee, is kidnapped by a group of vampires after she is the only human to witness a slaughtering of vampire-hunters late one night in Trafalgar Square. The vampires involved are from a royal vampire family, the Varns, and their existence is a well-hidden secret that the British government – including Violet’s father, Britain’s Minister of Defense – is fully aware of, though the rest of the country is not. Violet is stubborn, outspoken, and resents the vampires for keeping her captive. But as the heir to the throne – a young, handsome, and terribly charming vampire named Kasper – introduces Violet to their elaborate and elegant lifestyle, she begins to reevaluate her unpleasant situation. This book takes the vampire genre and combines it with classic stories, like Beauty and the Beast and Romeo & Juliet. Furthermore, the paranormal aspect in Gibbs’ world extends far beyond humans and vampires, and Violet is introduced to other realms beyond our own.
2. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
This soon-to-be trilogy follows the life of Tris, who lives in a dystopian world where society is broken down not along lines of race, class or gender but virtue. In Roth’s well-drawn universe, every sixteen-year-old must choose to dedicate his or her life to the development of one of five predetermined virtues and thereby make a lifelong commitment to its respective faction, those of which include: Candor (for the honest), Abnegation (for the selfless), Dauntless (for the brave), Amity (for the peaceful), and Erudite (for the intelligent). For Tris, however, turning sixteen means having to choose between remaining close to her family or being true to herself. Thus, she makes a shocking decision which forces her to guard a life-threatening secret whilst undergoing the arduous initiation into her new faction. As the façade of Tris’ neat and happy world fades, and she struggles to ensure the safety of both her family and herself—all while trying to figure out her relationship with an equally intriguing and frustratingly mysterious boy—Divergent proves itself to be the most compelling trilogy since Twilight, with the added bonus of having a truly kick-ass female protagonist. (No offense, Bella Swan.) Plus, the film adaptation is set for release in early 2014 and everyone knows it’s better to read the book first!
3. This Dark Endeavour (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel
From the man who brought you the Silverwing series—which actually made me sympathize with bats, it’s that good—comes the unofficial prequel to Mary Shelley’s literary classic, Frankenstein: a tale of brotherly devotion, family secrets and, of course, dark alchemy. When Victor Frankenstein’s twin brother and best friend, Konrad, falls gravely ill, he surmises that the only way to save him is by searching his father’s off-limits Dark Library for a recipe known as the Elixir of Life. Swept up in the power of alchemy, and by the dark magic of his own developing feelings for the beautiful Elizabeth, who aids him in his quest, Victor begins to change from an innocent boy bent on saving his brother into the troubled, power-hungry man capable of creating a monster. Bonus points for reading the original Frankenstein, too!
4. Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
In this gorgeous novel, Camden Pike and his girlfriend, Viv, have been together for years—through his career-ending football injury and his parents’ difficult divorce—when she is suddenly killed in a car accident. Upon revisiting the site of the tragedy, Camden meets a ghostly girl named Nina who claims to be from an alternate universe in which Viv has survived but their relationship, as he knows it, has not. As Camden learns more about this parallel reality and Nina’s role therein, the window between the two worlds continues to shrink and he must decide whether to make the leap, and fight for Viv no matter what, or let her go forever. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, heartbreaking love story with just the right amount of paranormal, then this is the book for you.
5. Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver
Imagine a world in which love is considered to be a disease against which everyone must be vaccinated upon turning eighteen. This is the dystopian reality of Lena Holoway, who has been successfully raised to believe that a life without love is a happy and healthy one. But when Lena meets a boy just 95 days before she is to be “cured” and falls in love with him, she begins to question everything she has been taught. The best part is that Oliver’s follow-up, Pandemonium, was released this year, so you won’t have to wait to continue Lena’s story!
6. Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
The novel begins by stating: “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” Thus unfolds the story of Karou, a 17-year-old art student living in Prague, and Akiva, who she first meets when he tries to kill her. But with butterflies, Akiva also brings the frightening answers to many of Karou’s questions about herself, having been raised as an orphan by four demon-like creatures in the mysterious land of “Elsewhere.” The more Karou learns, the more she wishes she didn’t know, yet the magnetic force between her and Akiva compels them both forward, into the heart of an age-old war between angels and demons. With exquisite worldbuilding, Taylor turns familiar folklore on its head and delivers a love story that transcends time, space and, well, the great divide between Heaven and Hell.
7. Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1) and Dreamless (Starcrossed #2) by Josephine Angelini
Starcrossed lovers are a tale as old as time but, let’s be honest, it never gets old. In Angelini’s take on the Romeo and Juliet conundrum, Helen Hamilton is trying hard just to be a normal girl growing up on the tiny island of Nantucket, MA but her reoccurring nightmares and horrific hallucinations are making it difficult. Enter Lucas Delos, with whom—unbeknownst to her—Helen is doomed to play out an eternally looping tragedy orchestrated by the Fates. This series deftly explores Greek mythology and how, at least in Helen’s world, it continues to inform our earthly presence today.
8. Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
In the same vein as Through to You, Garvey’s novel explores the devastating effects of losing someone you love and the terrifying consequences of trying to bring him or her back to life. In Cold Kiss, Wren loses her boyfriend Danny to a brutal car crash and then resurrects him via dark incantations, only to find that living-dead Danny is a much colder, more demanding version of his former self. Garvey’s polished and emotive writing lifts the story out of been-there-done-that territory and transforms it into a touching tale about letting go and moving on. Its sequel, Glass Heart, is already available.
9. What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang
Zhang’s debut novel offers a refreshing twist on the classic I-can’t-live-with-you-but-can’t-live-without-you romance that has become such a staple of the YA genre. Here, the doomed love story plays out between two sisters who inhabit the same body and must keep their secret in order to protect their lives. For in this world—which otherwise seems to be quite similar to our own—each newborn is implanted with two souls, one of which is expected to “settle” during infancy as the recessive soul fades. Those in whom both souls remain are labeled as “hybrids” and are demonized by society, sent to live in isolation among one another. But Eva, the recessive soul who is forced to hide in the shadow of her sister Addie, is desperate to stretch her legs, speak her mind and kiss the boy she likes, even if it does put her and her sister in danger. With What’s Left of Me, Zhang expertly crafts two very different personas and, fluidly alternating between them, wonderfully develops the scarily strong bond that unites them.
10. Starling (Starling #1) by Lesley Livingston
Starling has it all: supernatural forces, check; characters descended from ancient Norse mythology, check; inexplicable but undeniable attraction between female and male protagonists, check; heart-stopping cliffhanger ending, double check!
When Mason Starling’s elite Manhattan high school caves in due to an otherworldly storm, her comfortable life as your average teenage fencing champion also begins to go awry. Even scarier than the ugly, never-before-seen creatures that the weather turns up is Fennrys Wolf, a boy who can only remember his first name and, yet, with whom Mason feels somehow connected. As the two of them attempt to restore his memory, Mason is confronted with the dark secrets her family has been keeping from her and a whole new world is revealed to them both. This is a must-read for its pulse-pounding action and its welcome addition of Nordic folklore to a genre that is already saturated with Greek mythology.
So there you have it: ten books to read in the wake of Twilight that are sure to satisfy your ravenous appetite for romance, the paranormal and never-ending twists and turns. Enjoy!
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