Werewolf romances

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You know you like the article when you highlight so much of it that you defeat the purpose of using a highlighter!

In her analysis of the werewolf romances of Kelley Armstrong and Carrie Vaughn, Erin S. Young argues for a reconceptualisation of the borders around the genre(s) of Romance. She writes:

“In her introduction to Best New Paranormal Romance (2006), a collection of contemporary tales that explore the intersection of romance and fantasy, editor Paula Guran establishes a distinction between “paranormal romance” and “paranormal Romance”: “I contend that although some twenty-first century paranormal romance is still definitional Romance, another type of ‘paranormal romance’ has emerged that is not Romance. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge this duality or at least explore the idea” (8). Using Pamela Regis’ definition of romance—from A Natural History of the Romance Novel (2003)—as the foundation of her argument, Guran suggests that “the betrothal,” which signifies “happily ever after” at the conclusion of the conventional romance narrative, is one of the definitive elements that distinguishes “paranormal Romance” from “paranormal romance.” Romance novelists such as Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon, who occasionally venture into paranormal territory, are producing “paranormal Romance.” In contrast, the works of Kelley Armstrong and Carrie Vaughn—which will be the central foci of this essay—are more appropriately labeled “paranormal romance,” because these novels violate the conventional romance formula by omitting “the betrothal,” as well as any other indicator of “happily ever after.”

Guran’s argument reveals the fundamental paradox that exists at the core of romance criticism. The “betrothal” must occur at some point in the romance novel. [-p.205] A romance novel without a betrothal is not a romance; it may contain a love story, but it should be categorized as belonging to some other genre. This logic suggests both the impossibility of a feminist reading of popular romance—if a romance novel must conclude with at least the promise of marriage, then the genre does, by critical definition, affirm the “patriarchal myths and institutions” that have long prevented feminist romance critics from giving it a stamp of approval—and more importantly perhaps, it suggests that women’s concerns, experiences, and ideas about love have changed minimally in the 200-plus years that have passed since the emergence of the domestic novel (Modleski 16). I would argue that it is more fruitful to read the paranormal romance’s nearly universal rejection of marriage—and reproduction—as a reflection of particular cultural fantasies about limitless consumption and flexibility, even in the development of romantic relationships. I hope to justify the inclusion of the paranormal romance in academic romance criticism, despite its significant deviations from the popular romance code, because it suggests a cultural shift in dominant ideas about identity and intimacy. If an acknowledgement of this shift leads writers and readers of romance to interrogate constructions of love, marriage, and reproduction as stable and permanent concepts, then new analyses of women’s subjectivity in the context of patriarchal and economic realities may become possible.” (pp.204-205)

Citing David Harvey, Young asserts: “[“]”The dynamics of a ‘throwaway’ society . . . mean[s] more than just throwing away produced goods . . . but also being able to throw away values, lifestyles, stable relationships, and attachments to things, buildings, places, people, and received ways of doing and being” (156, 286). The heroines of “paranormal romance,” like the multi-volume structures that contain them, fully embrace the “dynamics of a ‘throwaway’ society” as they experience a multitude of romantic relationships, sexual encounters, and adventures that yield only temporary satisfaction.” (p.207)

With regards to the werewolf romances of Armstrong and Vaughn, Young explains, “What both of these series offer, then, are heroines whose paranormal attributes play a key role in their refusal—and sometimes, inability—to marry and bear children. Through the absence of these two central characteristics of romance, Elena and Kitty (as well as the readers of their narratives) are granted access to a very particular kind of capitalist fantasy.” (p.208)

In the works of Armstrong and Vaughn, lycanthropy functions as a paranormal inheritance that endows their heroines with altered physical bodies and perspectives that facilitate the indefinite pursuit of temporary and disposable pleasures. Lycanthropy also enables Elena and Kitty to interrogate and reject traditional “human” standards of gendered behavior, thereby reflecting the dissolution of stable identities in a flexible capitalist economy.
The werewolf romances of Armstrong and Vaughn share particular formulaic conventions that are identifiable throughout the genre of paranormal romance, [-p.209] including a first-person female narrator, a multi-volume structure, and a parallel universe in which magic exists.” (pp.208-209)

To be a werewolf is, for the most part, to consume without consequence.” (p.210)

“…the werewolf lens enables a critique of the monogamous relationship and the institution of marriage.” (p.211)

In both series, sexual intercourse is depicted as a “natural” indulgence for werewolves, especially when it follows a successful hunt. In contrast, the strict boundaries that surround acceptable forms of human sexuality (that it must be explored with only one other person, that it must be associated with love, and that it must be legally sanctioned by the State), are portrayed as heavily constructed rules of behavior that are distinctly “unnatural.”” (p.211)

“Armstrong’s Bitten offers the following premise: a female werewolf, uncomfortable with her lycanthropic identity, chooses to abandon her Pack and “pass” as an ordinary human woman with a stable career in journalism and a loving live-in boyfriend. In “The Politics of Passing” (1996), Elaine K. Ginsberg claims that “the possibility of passing challenges a number of problematic and even antithetical assumptions about identities, the first of which is that some identity categories are inherent and unalterable essences” (4). The conventional romance novel accepts the traditionally gendered categories of “male” and “female” as “inherent and unalterable essences,” as illustrated by Jayne Ann Krentz’s defense of the romance novel in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance (1992): “[Romance novels] celebrate female power, intuition, and a female worldview that affirms life and expresses hope for the future” (8). Werewolf romances do not share this assumption; human standards of appropriate behavior—particularly along gender lines—are continually rendered “strange” as they are observed through the eyes of the werewolf protagonist. Elena’s painstaking attempt to “pass” as a human woman forces the reader to question the innateness of behaviors and values that are conventionally coded as “feminine.” Thus, Bitten poses a unique challenge to the romance genre; its focus on a werewolf heroine who is always conscious of performing human femininity is simultaneously a focus on gender as a socially constructed category of identity.” (p.214)

“…both series offer complex explorations of the lycanthropic inheritance as a specifically gendered form of power. Lycanthropy is constructed contradictorily as a condition that empowers its female hosts by granting them sexual, geographical, and economic mobility, while also signifying the source and consequence of patriarchal oppression. The explicitness of this contradiction may seem critically inconvenient, but it must be noted that the werewolf romance exposes a central contradiction at the heart of every romance novel. The conventional romance heroine is “empowered” by her access to the patriarchal institution of marriage at the novel’s conclusion, much to the dismay of early romance critics. In contemporary romances that feature career women, the heroine’s empowerment is dependent upon her access to the patriarchal business world—access that is solely the result of a fortunate accident of birth. Werewolf romances, in other words, may offer yet another fantasy of female empowerment—albeit one that suggests substantial changes in the needs and desires of women under flexible capitalism—but at least they reveal the incompatibility of that fantasy with the patriarchal conditions that continue to affect the choices available to contemporary women.” (p.225)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine; italics in original) Erin S. Young (2011) Flexible Heroines, Flexible Narratives: The Werewolf Romances of Kelley Armstrong and Carrie Vaughn  Extrapolation, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp.204-226

Reference is to: Armstrong, Kelley. Bitten. New York: Plume, 2001.
Cohn, Jan. Romance and the Erotics of Property: Mass-Market Fiction for Women. Durham and London: Duke UP, 1988.

Giddens, Anthony. The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love, and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1992.
Ginsberg, Elaine K. “The Politics of Passing.” Passing and the Fictions of Identity. Ed. Elaine K. Ginsberg. Durham and London: Duke UP, 1996.
Guran, Paula, ed. “Introduction: What is ‘Paranormal Romance’?” Best New Paranormal Romance. New York: Juno Books, 2006. 7-17.
Halberstam, Judith. In a Queer Time & Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York and London: New York UP, 2005.
Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989.
Krentz, Jayne Ann, ed. Introduction. Dangerous Men & Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1992.
Modleski, Tania. Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women. New York: Methuen, 1984.
Mussell, Kay. Fantasy and Reconciliation: Contemporary Formulas of Women’s Romance Fiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1984.
Vaughn, Carrie. Kitty and the Midnight Hour. New York: Warner Books, 2005.

Zaretsky, Eli. Capitalism, the Family, and Personal Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

The final ever Sookie Stackhouse novel

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What? The final ever Sookie Stackhouse novel???

I’m just saying… although it might give me a chance to catch up if I know there’s an endpoint to work with. They’d be worth a bit of academic consideration, I thinkDead Ever After

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

Dead Ever After (book 13) [to be released May 7th]

Deadlocked (book 12)

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (contains the novella “Small Town Wedding” featuring Sookie, Sam and Quinn)

Dead Reckoning (book 11)

Dead in the Family (book 10)

Dead and Gone (book 9)

From Dead To Worse (book 8)

All Together Dead (book 7)

Definitely Dead (book 6)

Dead as a Doornail (book 5)

Dead to the World (book 4)

Club Dead (book 3)

Living Dead in Dallas (book 2)

Dead Until Dark (book 1)

Paranormal romance sales

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“According to statistics brought out by Romance Writers of America, in 2009, the paranormal subgenre made up 17.16% of the popular romance genre, which in itself comprised 54% of all books sold by the publishing industry.” (p.141)

Ref: Helen T. Bailie (2011) Blood Ties: The Vampire Lover in the Popular Romance The Journal of American Culture, 34:2, pp.141-148

For more information on industry statistics, Bailie refers us to : http://www.rwa.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics/industry_statistics

Werewolves as a metaphor for illness

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Roslyn Weaver has written: “While vampires are proliferating in children’s and young adult literature, the increasingly popular werewolf figure also deserves attention, particularly given the intriguing links that particular authors draw between the werewolf and disability. These links are seen in not only the two works I discuss in this paper, but others as well (for example, in Howl’s Moving Castle, a man cursed into the form of a dog is said to have a ‘terrible disability’ [Jones 1986, pp. 119-20]). Readers might assume the authors are creating these associations with worthy intentions, but might also question if a werewolf, a monster, is indeed an appropriate metaphor for disability and illness. In this discussion, metaphor is understood in line with Fogelin’s (1994) definition where ‘both similes and metaphors express figurative comparisons: similes explicitly, metaphors implicitly’ (p. 23). This paper explores the werewolf as metaphor for disability and illness in the Harry Potter series (Rowling 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007) and Jatta (Hale 2009).

The werewolf

Given the broad scope of this paper, I am less interested in providing a thorough classification or history for literary werewolves than in tracing the ways in which the notion of lupine shapeshifting intersects with disability and illness. However, to provide a brief background, we might look to Creed’s (2005) summary of the major tropes of the werewolf figure: they transform at night usually during the full moon, infect others by biting them, run with a pack, and have no tail. Death is by a silver bullet or fire, and the werewolf has a ‘terrible fury’ (p. 126). Contemporary fictions about werewolves sometimes conform to these tropes, and sometimes reject them.

In terms of critical readings, werewolves have been read in a range of ways, from gender and queer theory (Creed 2005, Bernhardt-House 2008) to dichotomies of the human-monster:

‘representations of lycanthropy have also been consistently conceptualised around the related poles of civilized-primitive, rational-instinctual, public-private and masculine-feminine. In this sense, the werewolf has modelled the dualistic subjectivity that emerged through the Enlightenment in graphic, exaggerated – or monstrous – terms.’ (Du Coudray 2006, p. 3)” (Weaver, p.69)

Weaver continues: “Du Coudray (2006) discusses the ‘grotesque imagery’ of the werewolf, suggesting that ‘In its monstrous lupine form, it is usually represented as an entirely alien other threatening the social collective’ (p. 4). Creed (2005) reads the werewolf as uncanny, representing instability, disorder, lack of borders, the breaking of taboo; Bernhardt-House (2008) similarly seizes on the werewolf’s ‘hybridity and transgression of species boundaries’ (p. 159). We can deploy these arguments outside the immediate context of gender, following Ward’s (2009) focus on the possibilities offered by the werewolf figure, who writes that Rowling’s Harry Potter werewolves are ‘characters of ingenuity, of difference; they upset readers’ expectations and force them to question their assumptions and beliefs, especially those about identity and difference’ (p. 3). The particular ideas that are useful for the purposes of this paper include the concept of instability, in the context of difference in society.” (Weaver, p.70)

“It is worthwhile considering some of the positive and negative implications of linking disability and illness with the werewolf, a traditionally monstrous creature. Certainly there are difficult aspects of a literal reading. Given Fogelin’s (1994) earlier stated distinction between similes and metaphors where metaphors provide implicit rather than explicit comparisons, it is more productive to dismiss literal attempts to read the werewolf as a metaphor for any of these conditions. Neither work sustains a literal reading because the werewolf figure remains dangerous, a malevolent force of contamination and monstrosity. For this reason, the werewolf will always fail as a direct metaphor for minority groups.

Yet Harry Potter and Jatta are two works that succeed in critiquing society’s perceptions of normality and difference. The social model of werewolves shows that society’s reaction to disability and illness can be ignorant and misplaced, and that the real monstrosity might just be located in particular social norms and concepts of difference. While the works discussed in this paper do not attempt to solve this problem, the werewolf figure nonetheless provides an intriguing way to conceptualise disability and illness in the social context. Despite the negative implications of rendering disability and illness as fantastical creatures, the werewolf as metaphor reminds readers that society’s treatment of those it deems outside the norm (the disabled, the chronically ill) is not always justified, morally right, or even helpful. Indeed, such a metaphor of monstrosity suggests that society itself can become the monster, rather than those who wear the label.” (79)

Ref: Roslyn Weaver (2010) ‘Metaphors of monstrosity: The werewolf as disability and illness in Harry Potter and Jatta’ Papers 20(2), pp.69-82

Note: Weaver states that “There are serious limitations in reading the werewolf itself as a direct metaphor for disability; the focus in this discussion is instead primarily on the use of werewolves as metaphors for society’s reaction to disability and illness in Harry Potter and Jatta.” (p71)

Sex and virginity in Romance novels

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Virginity, sexual awakening, and inexperience in romance

On the importance of both virginity and sex in romance, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan have quite a lot to say – all interesting. They write that “One of the more peculiar constants of most romance novels, from historicals to contemporaries to paranormals to even erotica, is the sexually unawakened state of the heroine. She’s relatively innocent, as proven by her inexperience or her outright virginity. No matter what type she is, she is definitely not the ho-type.

Therein lies the deep, humid, dark, and somewhat curious den that is home to the two sacred mythical beasts beloved to Romancelandia. They’re interconnected, if you know what we mean (and we think you do): the Unawakened Woman and the Heroic Wang of Mighty Lovin’. They are the plague and the backbone of romance. No other genre is as obsessed with the heroine (a) having excellent sex, and (b) not having sex at all unless it’s with the One True Love, who’s also usually the sole person who can make her come. Got orgasm? Got true love! The heroine’s sexual inexperience remains intact only until the hero’s wang of mighty lovin’ introduces her to the wonderment of the fizznuckin’. It’s part and parcel fo the fantasy: the awakening to love  is that much more powerful when it’s accompanied by a sexual awakening as well.

Everything about the love has to be superlative, and on the [-p.37] heroine’s part, it’s easiest to use an association we’re already comfortable with: sexual purity. The sexually experienced woman in fiction still raises hackles and creates uncomfortable associations with uncleanness, the threat of infidelity, and moral degeneration. Interestingly enough, the sexual experience is also superlative for the hero, but authors choose to portray it using, not inexperience (which would ruin the fantasy, because we’re not necessarily interested in reading about lovers who come a little bit too fast and use a little bit too much tongue when kissing), but what we and many others online refer to as the Magic Hoo Hoo. The Magic Hoo Hoo does it all: it heals all ills, psychic and sexual. It provides unparallelled pleasure to the hero, despite the heroine’s reluctance, inexperience, and awkwardness. It’s capable of experiencing (and inducing) earth-shattering multiple orgasms on its first outing. It also creates an instant emotional bond that’s even more irrational and persistent than a newly hatched chick imprinting on the first living thing it sees. All that, and it makes you coffee in the morning. One taste of the Magic Hoo Hoo is all it takes; the hero won’t be satisfied with anything else, physically or emotionally.” (p.38)

“In contemporary romance, virginity is treated differently. The heroine can be:
A: A bona fide virgin, for any number of reasons, many of them completely neurotic and serving as backstory for why the heroine doesn’t believe in herself.
B. Sexually experienced – but it’s never been like it is with the hero….
c. Sexually experienced and perfectly happy with her past orgasms, so much so that it’s a nonissue, but inexperienced in some other, very significant way.” (p.51)

Most contemporary romance novels published after the early 1990s allow the heroines to have sex. They have sex before marriage with somebody who isn’t the hero. They aren’t presented as pure, pristine vessels of womanhood…. So how to create the imbalance of power? What can substitute for viriginity?
Ignorance and inexperience, of course! And maybe life-threatening danger.
Many a contemporary heroine finds herself a fish out of water in the plot of a romance. The city girl moves to the small town in the coutnry. The country girl moves to the city…. …you can make a fool of yourself and charm or fight your way out time and again – it never gets old!” (p.52)

Paranormal romances: from virginity to turning/changing…

Wendell and Tan take this discussion into the paranormal arena, describing the way in which the heroine’s virginity is given new life (as it were) in this genre:

Paranormal romances have a different spin on the virginity angle. Not only is there a chance for an otherworldly protagonist and an innocent human becoming mixed up in each other’s worlds, [-p.53] but there’s always the question of whether he will change or turn her into whatever creature he is. Lilith Saintcrow theorizes that the ‘changing’ or ‘turning’ motif of paranormal romances is the new virginity, and we Bitches think she’s on to something. How many conflicts in paranormal romances are created because he bites her and turns her into a vampire…? Rarely is there a cure. Instead, the happy ending hinges on the communion and then a new community – the heroine becomes like the hero after he initiates her into his world.” (pp.52-53)

Saintcrow traces the modern origins of the virginity/paranormal change parallel to Anne Rice and the first several books of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Rice’s ‘florid descriptions of teeth puncturing skin in her vampire series are downright erotic, code-talk for sex.’ As Saintcrow tells it, among a generation of women who had grown up in a time when unprecedented developments in birth control finally allowed women largely to avoid the risks of pregnancy, and record numbers of women were graduating from college, in swaggered Anita Blake, a gun-toting vampire hunter who was not only strong and competent, but ‘morally and ethically ambiguous,’ in a way mostly allowed in male characters at the time. The mix of unwilling penetration and transformation with strong female characters led to a transgressive space in which a woman is allowed to own her own body and sexuality, but lingering cultural anxieties about ownership over the wandering vagina meant the “metaphor of contamination’ by werewolf, vampire, etc., takes the place of the defloration.”

Saintcrow also points out that the language between the heroine’s unwilling loss of virginity and the unwilling change is startlingly similar. As she wrote in an interview with us:
‘The heated descriptions of breaking the hymen can, with very little trouble, be transferred over to the male vampire/werewolf biting the female human to transform her. Through this agency of contamination the female human is initiated into the world of sex [-p.54] or ‘darkness’ and discovers sexual autonomy/Phenom Cosmic Power. It’s simply not workable to have a believable female virgin over thirty anymore. Not because it’s socially impossible anymore, but because the women shelling out the dough to buy the romances won’t buy it the way they would in the seventies….’

And really, that’s the basic plot of any virginity loss: he initiates her into his experience, and includes her in his world.” (pp.53-54)

Ref: Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan (2009) Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. Fireside: New York

Romance reading pleasure… how much, when and where is the sex?

It’s an interesting discussion, and one which connects with what Joyce Saricks has to say on the matter of reading Romance… On conducting the reader’s advisory interview, Saricks writes: “There are three vital pieces of information we need to discover: what does this particular reader mean by Romance? Does this reader want a book set in a particular time period or with Paranormal elements? And, finally, how much sex does the reader want – or how much will she tolerate?” (p.143)

A “…crucial piece of information we need to discover when we talk to readers is the amount of sex they want in their Romances. By this, I do not simply mean whether they want a lot of sex or very little and how graphically it is described. Sometimes one very explicit interlude leaves readers feeling this is a very sexy book, even if that was an isolated occurrence. The real point is the intensity and frequency of the sexual encounters, and whether they occur at the beginning, before the reader really knows the heroine and hero, or farther along in the story. Often if the sex comes later, it feels different than books in which there is graphic sex right from the first few pages. If the sex is later and between a couple seen by readers as ‘made for each other,’ it is less likely to offend or even really be noticed, almost regardless of how graphic. We are often surprised by readers  who say they are looking for books without a lot of sex, like those by Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Stephanie Laurens, when we know that explicit sexual interludes figure prominently in novels by these authors. This is a phenomenon I am unable to explain, even though I have encountered it with regularity in speaking with readers. It may have something to do with the reader’s perception of the heroine. If she engages in sexual activity too early in the story, before we know and care about her, we may be more likely to view her as promiscuous. That perception creates a different tone in the story, and for many readers it is not as satisfying.” (p.144) “Readers are really looking for that satisfaction Romances give them, and for some, sex too soon or too much sex destroys that feeling. The atmosphere and when sex occurs can make all the difference.” (p.145)

Not that Saricks reduces the genre to the positioning of the sex in the book! (I get the pun, but I’m feeling short on words). It is simply an important part of the appeal that she discusses…

Saricks also notes (and is this comment relevant?): “Judging from my personal experience, when we come face to face with a Romance reader, we have only about five seconds to make a connection with the reader. This may sound absurd, but we have no more than a few seconds in which to let this reader know that we understand Romances and their appeal.This is not the time to be aloof. Romance readers are accustomed to being looked down upon, and we need to learn ways to indicate immediately that we have read in this genre, that we are someone they can talk with about their favorites.” (p.145)

Ref: Joyce G. Saricks (2009) The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd edn.) American Library Association: Chicago

Strange Angels

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I finally got around to reading Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels. It’s a fluid, easy read, with a compelling plot, a story world that makes sense and likeable characters (though there is only a small cast). … anyway, here are the things I noticed (these are notes for me, really, so don’t let me ruin the story or anything):

Parents vs. Peers

Seems to me: YA Urban Fantasy protagonists are often teamed up with their peers to fight the world’s evil… their parents and families generally exist, but are explained out of the story, too. Families tend to be secondary in some way to the power struggle the protagonists engage in; the power structure of the family is a side-line event (rather than central to how the troubles play out).

Dru’s Mom and Gran are long-gone and her Dad dies early on in Strange Angels… so Dru has to work out how to go it alone ‘in a scary-as world’. But – Strange Angels also spends quite a bit of time focusing on Dru’s loss of parents… She thinks about her Dad a lot; she wonders how she can cope without him; she ponders everything he’s taught her, etc. She wonders repeatedly how she can cope without adults, since she’s only a teenager. (A classic example: “This just kept getting more and more complex, and I wasn’t sure what was real and what was the Real World anymore. Where were the grown-ups who could handle this?” (p.228))

Is this all to explain who Dru is and how she came to be that way? …to develop a storyline around a teenager who lacks adults to Take Care Of Things? Does Dru’s connection with her Dad make her story different from other UF protagonists’? Or is there a theme in UF with regards to what parents bring to stories of good vs. evil?

Teachers feature in Strange Angels (and in Vampire Academy, and in a couple of others… what about the Mortal Instruments series?). As with families, they tend to be a sideline, but why keep these typical teenager (imbalanced power) relationships at all? What do they add to the story?

If you want to see what I mean about the adult vs. teenager theme, check out pp.146; 149; 169; 245; 252; 277?; and, last but not least, the penultimate page (p.292), when rescue comes in the form of more teenagers (“The pilot didn’t even look at us, and the hands on the controls were bigger and thicker than mine, though they looked young and smooth-skinned. / Jesus, how many teenagers are doing this sort of thing?“)

Of course, this all fits with Adolescent Fiction in general, but there’s something else here… I suppose comparing it with the ‘adult’ stuff might clear things up… dunno

Most people don’t see the world around them as it really is (your average punter is the one living in the fantasy world, because they can’t see the truth of things around them. For most people (but not our protagonists), nothing goes too wrong and the threat of world-destruction is not real):

I think this thought partly occurs to me because at work we’re studying ways of implementing sustainability more fully into our pedagogy and this absolutely is how the discourses around climate change and sustainability play out (i.e., most people just can’t see the dangers).

I wonder if part of the adult vs. teenager thing is connected to the sense that the protagonist knows things about the world that most people refuse to acknowledge and therefore cannot cope with… this generation must face what is wrong with the world (using new variations on old traditions), while the previous generation continues in its old ways… (such a statement certainly fits the characters of Clary in Mortal Instruments and Rose in Vampire Academy).

Certainly, in Strange Angels (as in other UF?) there is a distinct sense of knowing something about the world – and caring about it; and being caught up in the power of it – that your average person does not know… Dru and her Dad have been fighting things from ‘the Real World’ (zombies, chupacabras, whatnot) all her life, but most people don’t know the Real World exists… a section that leapt out in this regard: “‘This place really reeks.’
I shrugged. It was just a regular chain coffee outlet, with hordes of overpriced crap crowding the shelves and rickety tables, the kids behind the counter scrambling to keep up with the nonfat, soy chai, double shot, sugar-free, dry foam, drip please, do you have a sugar substitute? People shuffled up to the counter, got their froofy java, and shuffled out the door, usually jabbering away on cell phones about something useless or meaningless.
None of them knew about the Real World. None of them were so scared their bones felt like water.
‘They don’t have a clue.’ I scooped up my not-so-hot-anymore chocolate and scraped my chair away from the table.” (p.143)

I have to think this through some more.

Antagonists

The antagonists in this novel are not a specific race or group of politically organised folk, but an entire realm of ‘things that go bump in the night’… Accordingly, you don’t get much characterisation of the villains – they are, almost by definition, those monsters under the bed that are mostly scary cos you can’t see them. That said, there is a whole range of them (zombies, werewolves, vampires (‘suckers’), dreamstealers/revelles, etc.) and St. Crow seems to be drawing on all the cultural traditions alive to people of the USA. She just doesn’t develop their characters much here (rather she focuses on how they menace Dru).

As with Richelle Mead’s story world (they’re mates aren’t they?), the djamphir (dhampir, dhampyr, dhampire) are half-breeds (here: human/vampire offspring) who are on the side of good. In this case, the djamphir kill the full-blooded, dangerous wampyr/ nosferatu/ vampires (before the opposite happens). Werwulfen (werewolves) also battle suckers (vampires) in this story world. (Ref. pp.162; 210)

This novel seems to be setting things up for a larger battle scope in consequent novels, though, so hmmm (Dru also seems set to “Be a good girl and go back to school” (p.289), even if it is a school for Hunters, so hmmm some more).

Anyway, just a few thoughts…

Ref: Lili St. Crow (2009) Strange Angels. Razor Bill: Camberwell, Vic.

Ref also: http://backyardbooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/in-times-of-change-a-few-quotes/