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Recently, I realised that I am a vampire addict. But that was a deeply shameful moment, and as such requires its own blog post.

Right now, I wanted to blog about two books about Supernatural Creatures I am not addicted to, but keep sort of gently swaying away from and then back to. To wit: zombies and werewolves. I want to love them. I always want to find my ideal zombie or werewolf book.

And I have found many excellent ones! Carrie Ryan's dystopic zombie series starting with The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Annette Curtis Klause's Best Werewolf Novel Ever Blood and Chocolate. Daniel Waters's Passing Strange, which surprised me by changing narrators and telling the third book in his zombie series from the point of view of a zombie femme fatale. I've never been totally sold on his heroine and hero Phoebe and Adam, but I loved Karen past the telling of it, and I loved the fact it had girls liking girls, which I'd love to see more of in YA. (I keep asking for zombie boyfriends, but I am completely willing to accept zombie girlfriends. Uh. Generally. In books. Don't call me, zombies.)

Feed by Mira Grant

These are not the zombie boyfriends or girlfriends you're looking for. What this is, is the ideal zombie book for nerds.

I say this as a high compliment, because behold, I am a nerd. And reading this intricately thought out world was just a delight. The zombie virus was created via the unfortunate overlap of a cure for cancer and a cure for the common cold! Animals above a certain mass can be infected!

And also, I mean every word I say: it's a fabulous zombie book. I loved all the little details and back story that only a book could provide, and this book celebrates the written word more than almost any other book I've ever read. I'd love to see a movie of Feed, but it could never be as excellent as the book.

In Feed, bloggers helped save the world. More and more people get their news from blogs (I do). In the world of Feed, when traditional news networks were still talking about hoaxes and going by a policy of not creating panic, the blogs posted the facts about zombies and the rules of how to survive. In this new world, which posits a civilisation being rebuilt around the zombies, our hero and heroine, Georgia and Shaun Mason, are the first blogging team ever invited to follow the campaign trail of a presidential candidate. And then it begins to look like someone's creating planned zombie epidemics. (I love it when mystery/thrillers are added to sci-fi/fantasy. Two great tastes that taste great together.)

GEORGIA: I have zombiefied eyes so must wear sunglasses, a dry wit and a relentless commitment to the truth. Also, I am named after George Romero... the saviour of mankind.
SHAUN: It is never stated whether I am named for Shaun of the Dead, but I sure hope so! I am a wild, crazy, risk-taking blogger who - good gracious, a zombie just grabbed my cardigan-
GEORGIA: Shaun do not poke the zombies how many times must I tell you? You are on a warning.
GEORGIA AND SHAUN: Also for Sarah's benefit, we are a messed-up brother and sister pair who nevertheless love each other very much.
GEORGIA AND SHAUN: Also this zombie tale has something all zombie narratives should have: black humour. I mean on one level, our parents' biological son was killed by a zombie golden retriever - hilarious. But on the other - he was six, and our parents' hearts are dead, and they clearly do not love their adopted children.
GEORGIA AND SHAUN: Also this zombie book pulls no punches. No seriously. You will cry. On an airplane. You'll try to do it sneakily... but the guy sitting beside you will clearly know. And he'll be pretty uncomfortable.

A lot of people told me to read Seanan McGuire (Mira Grant is a pen name for her zombie books, she also writes the Rosemary and Rue urban fantasy series under her own name.) I can only say that they were right.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

If Feed is in a tiebreak with Carrie Ryan for best zombie book of the decade, Raised by Wolves has best werewolf book of the decade sewn up.

It is unquestionably my favourite werewolf book since Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate. (And if you haven't read that, read it! And under no circumstances whatsoever see the movie don't do it just don't do it I am warning you, sometimes I still hear the deviant European werewolves screaming...)

BRYN: Oh adopted leader of the werewolf pack daddy, who is that handsome new werewolf boy you are keeping in a cage?
BRYN: But I am mysteriously drawn to him. Am I forbidden to see him?
BRYN: Oooh, the lure of the forbidden.
ADOPTED LEADER OF THE WEREWOLF PACK DADDY: Obviously you must stay away from him until you can take down an unhinged werewolf with your bare hands and a variety of weapons.
BRYN: So I'm not going to sit here and pine about forbidden love?
ADOPTED LEADER OF THE WEREWOLF PACK DADDY: That would cut in on your exercise regime.
BRYN: Oh God my bones.
ADOPTED LEADER OF THE WEREWOLF PACK DADDY: Think of this as werewolf boot camp.
BRYN: But I'm not even a werewoooooooo-
BRYN: ooooooh my god I'm going to dieeeeee but maybe it is aweeeeesooooooooooome...
ADOPTED LEADER OF THE WEREWOLF PACK DADDY: Now you can see your caged boy toy.
CHASE: Hello. My name is Chase. I have just met you, and I LOVE you!
BRYN: Seems reasonable to me. I'm really awesome. I've been to werewolf boot camp. Do you want to come meet my best friend, a blonde bombshell werewolf with a gun, and defeat evil?
CHASE: Yes. I would also like to make out.

So, most fantasy books do the regular thing of the Outsider Narrator who stumbles onto the fantasy world and who things need to be explained to. Most famous examples of same: 'Harry, you're a wizard' and 'I've been seventeen for a very long time.' This is because that's the easiest way to do things - that way you get a narrator the reader empathises with, and the writer can explain their fantasy world via the other characters to the narrator.

There is also the Insider Narrator, in which a fantasy book has a character who knows everything about the secret fantasy world, is kind of terrible at the outside normal world, and in which the worldbuilding has to be done with lunatic care. I kind of love this, but it is tricky! One example: uh, my first book, written by Sarah 'Bites Off More Than She Can Chew' Rees Brennan. A more talented example: White Cat by Holly Black.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes does a GENIUS thing in Raised by Wolves, with a narrator who is both inside and outsider. Bryn isn't a werewolf, but she was raised by werewolves, so she knows how the secret fantasy world works, but from a position of being slightly outside it. The hero Chase, a brand new werewolf, is a lot more clueless than Bryn.

My very favourite scene is when human Bryn runs with the pack: she's exhilarated, scared, one of them and yet not one of them. You're able to empathise with her perfectly, and in that moment, the werewolves seem so real.

In short, Feed and Raised by Wolves both had monsters in the family, a brilliant take on monsters I don't always cotton to, and beautiful writing. Score for the zombies and the werewolves.


( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 1st, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
I love Seanan so. Perhaps one day you two will meet!
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
Seanan is AWESOME. I know her. She is everything people say. And then some. Except for the bad stuff her trolls say. That's not true.
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jul. 1st, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tiferet - Jul. 2nd, 2010 04:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Why is it when I read your entries I always end up with like 6 more books on my TBR pile??

Jul. 1st, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Boy, do I agree with you on FEED. I kept reading little bits to people, and enjoying it and having a wonderful adventure...... and then Mira/Seanan kicked me in the teeth with that ending. WOWW!!!! I didn't even pretend not to cry, but since I wasn't sitting next to a stranger on a plane, I got away with it.

Pam Adams
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
It is a two-handkerchief book.
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
Bless you for these recs! I've not read 'Feed', but my friend Sunil is a friend of Seanan's, and I'd read his review a while ago; when we had a couple of months of EXCITING CIVIL UNREST here in Bangkok recently, I kept thinking back to his description of that whole bloggers-replacing-traditional-news-sources thing and just nodding like crazy, because we were DEFINITELY relying on Twitter & the various blogs way the hell more than either international or national coverage to know where snipers were/where grenades were/what was on fire etc.

And, dear God, yes - 'Blood and Chocolate'. I actually stumbled across the movie first, and was all O_o , but gathered that the book was quite different, and THEN went and tracked down the book. Definitely one of those Dark Is Rising -> The Seeker moments of TOTAL pointlessness in movie making; honestly, if you're not happy with the things that make the book unique and effective, and want to slap in crappy generic rubbish instead...don't use the damned book!
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Evil twin in a snowglobe!

Sorry. Sorry. I just get these traumatic Dark Is Rising flashbacks sometimes...
(no subject) - lots42 - Jul. 2nd, 2010 10:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spectralbovine - Aug. 24th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
I laugh because I am opposite-- it's the vampires I am not addicted to. Then, I guess I'm not addicted to zombies and werewolves either, it's just I have a bizarre aversion to vampires and there are exactly two vampires in all of fiction I am fond of. Whereas zombies and werewolves I'm much more open to. I like the way you describe these books and might pick them up if I see them!
Jul. 2nd, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
Zombies and werewolves can totally get you -anywhere-.

Vampires can't.
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
There are no words for how much I love that the overprotective alpha males in the Barnes book think the best way to be over protective of the teeny delicate female is to train her to be able to take down a squad of Navy S.E.A.L.S. with a toothpick. Or the supernatural equivalent.
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
Yes! I've never met a subverted trope I didn't like, and that one was amazing. I love Bryn and her adopted father a lot. ;)
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've not read FEED (but now I'll look for it), but I also LOVED Jenn's book! Easily my favorite werewolf story ever :D
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)

I AM LITERALLY going to buy every book mentioned in this post today ahaha, you are a terrible, terrible influence and my bank account hates you :(

i had no idea that Seanan McGuire was Mira Grant! THAT IS SO HOT.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
i had no idea that Seanan McGuire was Mira Grant! THAT IS SO HOT.

When Seanan calls me tonight, I am so telling her you said that. Because it made me LOL (in a good way).
(no subject) - bookshop - Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
I just discovered your blog last month, and I have to say that I love your book reviews so very, very much, and I'm grateful to you for sharing them. They make me laugh out loud while also going to the heart of what makes the books you write about worth reading.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Oh, well. *beams and blushes* Thank you very much! I love talking about books I love, and am delighted my rambly ways work for you. ;)
Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
I was trying to be polite about it but I was squeeing about FEED to everyone in line at your Anderson's signing in Naperville. Not to the exclusion of you and Holly of course, but being as actual grown-ups were a little thin on the ground there we were looking to talk grown-up books.

I think I personally sold at least half a dozen copies of FEED at Marcon where Seanan/Mira was Filk GOH. This also led to my being overheard in the autograph line saying "Yeah, and then I had to leave right in the middle of The Black Death and I was really sad". And then having to pat the nice choking lady in line on the back and explain that I was referring to Seanan's song of that title.

You two totally need to meet up and fight crime hang out.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
I shall only hope there is someone squeeing about me in a line for one of Seanan's signings one day. ;) (But not to the exclusion of Seanan/Mira, of course!)
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
The Vampire Diaries has just started showing in New Zealand and I have discovered that I really am addicted to vampire stories. My flatmate can bear witness to the fact that every time Damon came on screen, I began clapping my hands and squealing. Deeply embarrassing.

Also, both those books sound excellent. When I have paid off my library fines I will be reserving them.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
I love the Vampire Diaries soooo much. Oh Damon Elena Anna Stefan Caroline! How I love you all.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I like the idea of zombies, but only on a sliding scale. Gender is a sliding scale of masculine, feminine, and lots else jumbled in there. Such is how I feel with zombies/vampires. I am sure there's a sliding degree scale of them.

Also, though it's not a book, the Swedish movie "Let the Right One In" is an absolutely brilliant vampiric work that I recently discovered. It's being labeled a must see for anyone who likes vampires.

You have won me over for Raised by Wolves. Going to check amazon for it now!
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
I love that movie. I like the book too, but in this rare case I do believe the movie is better.

Also - huzzah and I am sure you will enjoy Raised by Wolves!
(no subject) - elsajeni - Jul. 2nd, 2010 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
Darn, my library has some of those but not the really good ones (and the first time I've ever come across a book in mending status oddly enough). So, bookmarked for when I get back to college and I have TWO other library systems at my disposal.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
Have you read Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss? Not quite as fantastic a vampire story as Blood and Chocolate is a werewolf story, but still quite worth the read.

Also, the audiobook version of Blood and Chocolate is just as fabulous as the book. And I'm very picky about my audiobooks.
Jul. 2nd, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
Klause also wrote the Best YA Vampire Romance Novel Ever In Which Nobody Sparkles, which is THE SILVER KISS.

And also must plug the upcoming (in September) collection of short stories edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, ZOMBIES VS UNICORNS, which is exactly as advertised and has contributions by all the YA authors who are awesome except for Sarah Rees Brennan (sad).
Jul. 2nd, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
I regularly make the most tragic eyes imaginable at Holly and Justine for leaving me out. Where is the love? But yes, Zombies Vs Unicorns is pure awesome. *sniffles*
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