Chris: There is certainly no shortage of vampires and other creatures of the night in literature these days. But it does seem that some of them lack that certain edge of yore. I tend to like my vampires dangerous and my zombies apocalyptic.
Christina: I’m not fond of the way that vampires have gone from frightening monsters to the ideal boyfriend, but luckily that sort of thing won’t happen to zombies (I hope). Like Chris, I like my monsters to be, well, scary. Since the world of bloodsuckers and flesh eaters is a large and diverse one, there are plenty of writers who share our view.
Chris: As for vampires, I think people overlook the master of them all, Dracula. They get caught up in the cliches and forget what a dangerous character he was.
Christina: Speaking of Dracula, ‘Salem’s Lot came about when Stephen King wondered what would happen if Dracula tried to take over a modern town. The results are considerably non-sparkly.
Chris: I like how in ‘Salem’s Lot there is a personal feel to it. The “bad guys” are neighbors and family. There is a personal feel to what I think is the ultimate zombie book, World War Z. It is a collection of interviews with survivors of the zombie war, so you get a lot of close up perspective on the horrors.
Christina: When a reader can personally connect with a monster, it’s a powerful thing. The monster is usually an angst-ridden, misunderstood creature. One book that takes this approach is Breathers : a zombie’s lament. The “bad guys” in this book are the people themselves, and while they’re understandably terrified of the zombies who trudge through afterlife, looking for work and attending therapy sessions, the zombies are sympathetic creatures.
Chris: In the Swedish novel Let the Right One In the protagonist is a 12 year old boy, and besides the tribulations that come with that it turns out that the girl from next door who befriends him is actually a vampire. By grounding the story in reality it makes the scary elements scarier.
Christina: If reading about younger characters is your thing, Zombies vs. Unicorns might interest you. It’s a collection of short stories from popular YA (young adult) authors, divided into two categories; Team Zombie and Team Unicorn. The stories range from humorous and light to dark and frightening. In my opinion, Team Zombie pulls off a huge win.
Chris: I really enjoyed Zombies vs. Unicorns. One of the zombie writers, Carrie Ryan, wrote a series of YA books that deal with teens living in a world where the zombie apocalypse happened many years ago. The focus is more on the characters than the zombie action, but I found them to be a good enough read. The first one has one of the best book titles ever: The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Christina: Truth be told, there’s no avoiding the watered-down versions of our favorite monsters, but for those of us who love being scared, there are plenty of titles to choose from.
Find all of these books in the library catalog here: https://fontana.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/results?bookbag=38234;page=0;locg=155;depth=0
(Edited 10/30/14 to fix broken links, correct typos, and add bookbag)