Teen fiction and science fiction/fantasy/horror have a lot more in common than initially meets the eye: and I’m not talking about reading-level. Both are about larger-than-life events that parable the everyday struggles of everyday people. But more than that both are about monsters within each of us.
Half the fun of books like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars is the bad-girl protagonist. What would drive the plot if there wasn’t an element of delight in reveling in the bad behavior of characters you might want to emulate at times, but wouldn’t because of social decorum?
The bad girl is very much a monster and not unlike a vampire:
– Pretty, but hiding a secret sinister plot (check)
– Out for blood (check)
– Recoils at the sight of crosses (check)
Following that trajectory we have Fat Vampire, a coming-of-age story about becoming a man, but also a monster. The story is about a schlubby teen who is accidentally turned into a vampire which ultimately changes him for the worse. The parable is blatant: that period where teens are on the road to self-discovery usually makes them jerks in their own selfish wants and needs.
Doug begins to see that as a vampire he has power and as a result he begins to treat the people in his life like pawns. I think Adam Rex is trying to get his presumed-male readers to step back from themselves and consider if what they want is always worth what it takes to get it. A moral that requires a monster to tell it!
This is exactly what Hanna does in her genre, this time for girl-readers in Pretty Little Liars. The joy of reading both is living vicariously through them while hopefully checking our own impulses!
The message in teen books and in fantasy/sci-fi/horror often overlaps: Check the monster within or deal with the consequences!
Who do you think is deadlier?:
– Doug from Fat Vampire
– Hanna from Pretty Little Liars