Saturday, July 4, 2009

Claudia Gray - the new Stephenie Meyer?

Given the phenomenal global success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, there’s a mad rush from publishers and publicists to find “the next Stephenie Meyer”.

Which is ironic, because it was only a year ago Meyer was being touted as “the next JK Rowling”.

I’m pretty sure authors themselves cringe at such comparisons, but in the current glut of urban fantasy, paranormal adventure and YA escapism hitting our shelves, they’re unavoidable.

Once author being compared to Meyer is Claudia Gray (the pseudonym of New York-based writer Amy Vincent). She’s currently two books into a planned four-book series about a gothic boarding school and the strange goings on there.

The Evernight series is told in the first person through the eyes of Bianca, a shy newcomer to the school who falls for fellow outsider Lucas.

For the first hundred or so pages, Evernight seemed to be heading into familiar Twilight territory. But then there was a very neat twist I hadn’t seen coming (having not gone out of my way to read too much about the series beforehand), which took the story in a new and interesting direction.

Without giving too much away, the series features vampires, vampire hunters and (in the second book, Stargazer), ghosts. It’s a kind of Twilight, Supernatural and Buffy hybrid, with a bit of Hogwarts thrown in for good measure.

Evernight introduces the main characters, establishes the mythology and sets the lines between the warring vampires and vampire hunters – which Gray then nicely blurs, ensuring the reader is never quite sure who's "good" and who's not.

Stargazer then ups the ante with more tension and twists as Bianca and Lucas try to make their relationship work, and new elements are added to increase the sense of mystery and menace. It’s these twists and turns, and the relative complexities of the relationships between a number of characters, that makes this series more than just another teen vampire love story. That, and the fact Gray is a good storyteller.

So … is she the next Meyer?

We’ve talked before on this blog about why Meyer’s novels have struck such a chord with readers. The appeal is undeniably the intense relationship between Bella and Edward, particularly the idea of a powerful, sexy vampire denying his very nature to love and protect the human he craves.

While the Bianca-Lucas romance drives the Evernight story, it’s as much a suspenseful gothic mystery as it is a love story. The relationships aren’t always healthy, and truth is never black or white, which makes the story all the more interesting.

Gray’s author bio refers to her lifelong interest in old houses, classic movies, vintage style and history, and she nicely weaves these elements into her narrative.

It’s not fair to compare Gray to Meyer. Gray is an unashamed fan of vampire stories – particularly those not mired in horror – and Everynight and Stargazer pay homage to that.

These YA books are fast-paced and suspenseful, and while there’s not the underlying sexiness of the Bella-Edward dynamic, there are plenty of hot and heavy moments with Bianca and Lucas (with their own complications, of course).

I have one last observation on the YA/vampire/paranormal trend, which I’ll save for another post – and then, I promise, I’ll write about something other than vampires for a while!


Charley said...

Great post. I haven't given this series much thought, but you make it sound quite good. I'll keep it in mind.

Daniel said...

Sounds hot Paula. Will start on it fo' shure!

alaska. said...

i love this series and think it far surpasses "twilight" in terms of story-telling . . . glad to see that other people are loving these books also!!

joanna said...

Haven't heard of her before now, but have just added her to my wishlist, even before I wrote this comment! ;-)

Gustav said...

Human blood is deeply wired into our primitive souls. Blood fascinates us and horrifies us.

I watched the movie the Wrestler last night and the blood that spewed from Mickey played an important psychological role in the story.

A vampire tale is the ultimate blood story.

Placey said...

I think if I read or watch one more vampire thing my husband will cease sleeping for fear that I may drink his blood.
I shall pop these on my list and perhaps I can get away with reading them once the 'Being Human' series finishes (ABC2 Friday nights for any of you vampire/ werewolf fans!!)

Placey said...

A rather belated follow-up post from me for Évernight'! Now, I swear it hasn't all been vampires and other supernatural characters since my last post on this blog in July '09, although doing a quick check (New Moon movie, Being Human Series 2, Strange Angels, Reformed Vampire Support Group, re-read of Harry Potter and Eclipse...) , creatures of the night do still feature quite prominently!
Back to Evernight: I was finding this book, its characters and narration very enjoyable without anything hugely ground breaking occurring. Then 'the twist' was revealed - which I did not pick at all despite knowing there was one coming - and the whole story lifted a notch. I had to go back and re-read earlier chapters once I knew 'the truth'! Great fun. Also liked some well-written steamy scenes. Looking forward to the next instalment with Stargazer.