Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Persy -- Wednesday Scrolls

Urban Fantasy. The genre that is adored by some, and looked on with a bit of disdain by others (the more 'serious' bibliophiles). The style that delves into the dark shadows of the world, the world of vampires, werewolves, demons, and faeries... Or just creates situations where some stupid mortal falls for a supernatural creature.

Needless to say, there are many, many books in the urban fantasy genre. Most aren't all that great, some are okay, and a few are just amazing. Now, I admit to sometimes being a bit embarrassed to read an urban fantasy book, mostly just because of the stereotype. Even the name 'urban fantasy' doesn't sound very cool anymore because of its reputation. Maybe we should rename it. Not 'paranormal' or 'supernatural', because those are genres in themselves, and tend to imply more ghost/zombie kind of thing, while 'urban fantasy' is more focused on vampires/werewolves, etc. Though really, the terms are probably interchangeable.

But anyway, back to the point. The point is, there are good urban fantasy books that I'd reccommend to anyone, not just your local Twilighter. The following is a 'countdown' of sorts of thirteen urban fantasy (or urban fantasyish) novels that deserve more than a passing glance.

13. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Yes, yes, anyone who knows me knows my opinion on Twilight. I'm a 'Twilight Hater', so to speak, but let's be honest. Twilight, as in the very first book, is actually pretty good. The Twilight saga however, is utter crap in my personal opinion. But the first book is definitely worth reading (though if Bella had just been vampified at the end, we wouldn't've had to mess with all the nonsense of the other three books, and it would've been a great stand-alone novel).

12. Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.

This is an 'oldie', from 1997, and something of a classic to me. Vivian Gandillon is a teenage werewolf who falls for a human boy, at the same time trying to ignore the advances of the potential pack leader, Gabriel. It's really very good, and not just your every day urban fantasy inter-species romance. The movie was annoyingly different though.

11. Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley.

Mina Hamilton is the teenage daughter of two vampires, and they want her to become a vampire too. So while trying to get through normal highschool, she's also being forced to take vampire classes as well. This is a fun, more humorous look for the vampire scene, but at the same time serious and realistic.

10. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.

Let's make one thing clear: adult urban fantasy and teenage urban fantasy are two different things. But still, there's bad adult urban fantasy and good adult urban fantasy. This is good adult urban fantasy. Mercedes Thompson (Mercy) can turn into a coyote, and was raised by a pack of wolves. This looks like your average adult urban fantasy novel, but it was actually a surprisingly good book. There was a lot of plot and mystery, with various twists and turns. Don't judge books by their covers.

9. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks.

These vampires are not romantic, sexy, or powerful. They're dead. Which means they're rather fragile, and not at all young and spritely. Nina Harrison, the youngest at fifteen, hates the support group they're all in, but when one of their members is killed by a silver bullet, Nina dives head on into the mystery. Catherine Jinks is awesome no matter what she does.

8. Devilish by Maureen Johnson.

I don't know if this is strictly urban fantasy, probably more supernatural/chick lit. That's the problem with Maureen Johnson, most of her books are probably chick lit, but they're so much more interesting! Jane goes to a prep school with her best friend Ally, who ends up selling her soul for popularity. Jane must save her friend from the demon while protecting her own soul. This is definitely one of my favorite books, whether it's actually urban fantasy or not.

7. Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Quincie's parents die, and so she takes over the restaurant, giving it a makeover to make it vampire themed. She hires a new chef, who 'masquerades' as a real vampire, but things start to get confusing. And don't forget Quincie's hybrid-werewolf boyfriend. This book never ceases to make me hungry, but is beautifully written nonetheless.

6. Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

As with Devilish, I'm not sure if this is really urban fantasy. I'm not sure why it doesn't feel like it though, because I'm not sure what else you'd call it. Clary gets pulled into the world of Shadowhunters and Underworlders (demons, vampires, werewolves) when she begins seeing things she shouldn't be able to see. This is one of my all time favorite series', so go read it.

5. Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.

Bean sidhes. Or banshees, as we say. Either way, it's not something you read about very often. But Rachel Vincent has a great world of them, with a main character, Kaylee, who isn't an idiot and supporting characters who are also very cool. And what's really amazing is how both sequels I've read turned out to be pretty good as well.

4. Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde.

Yeah, yeah, you all know I'm a huge fan of Vivian Vande Velde. And her vampires are as awesome as her dragons, witches, and smart dogs. What's absolutely brilliant about this book is how the vampire is never really good. He's almost always the bad guy (until the very end, and even then, you aren't really totally sure). Also, it doesn't completely resolve itself at the end, which will leave almost any reader happy. Love this book. So much.

3. Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

This is another one of those vampires-are-actually-evil series'. Genius Claire Danvers moves to Morganville, Texas, to go to college. There, she ends up moving into a house with three other people, a goth, the rarely seen owner, and another dude. But the longer she stays in Morganville, the weirder things get, until the real situation is finally explained to her. Vampires rule Morganville.

2. Generation Dead by Daniel Waters.

This is yet another book I'm not sure you'd classify as urban fantasy, because it's all about zombies and doesn't have any werewolves or vampires at all. But this book is so good and close enough to the genre to end up #2 on this list. It's surprisingly touching and (if I dare say it), thought provoking. I have high hopes for the second book.

1. Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris.

This is something everyone should've heard of by now. Kind of like Twilight, but everyone knows this is awesome. Sookie Stackhouse is a psychic who lives in Louisiana, and being telepathic is no picnic. That is, until she meets Vampire Bill. Even at book #10, this series has great plot, great characters, and great Sookie. True, it gets a little complicated the more you read, but that's only because it's a very developed world. The TV show, True Blood is a pretty decent adaptation, but not neearly as good (plus it's also, like, rated X and the books aren't as bad).

And there it is. Granted, lots of these books I actually love equally, so giving them all numbers seems a bit unfair, but still, they're mostly ranged from least awesome to totally awesome. Maybe this will give you some hope for the urban fantasy novels, and keep you from entirely passing over this genre. Because let's be honest: there are gems in every genre.


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