It Gives Me the Shivers

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It Gives Me the Shivers

YA literature beyond 'Twilight'

The best part about summer is staying up late and reading something fun like a scary story. Nothing like a slasher tale to keep you up, right?

What makes a paranormal story truly frightening, however, is how the elements of narrative coalesce in the story; i.e., how atmospheric is it? Certainly paranormal stories abound in YA literature, but perhaps you're tired of typical fare like Twilight or the Vampire Academy series.

If that's the case, then I would highly suggest some of the following titles:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
This is a haunting epic that takes a dark dystopian turn. In the first novel in Bracken's series, the author re-imagines what would happen to American youth if they were gifted with psychic powers; don't think that this is just another superhero journey, however. Feared and consequently imprisoned by adults, the teens of Bracken's novels are looking for a place to call their own while fighting unimaginable forces that will do anything to destroy them.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is no stranger to YA literature, as the author has written popular works like the Shiver trilogy. Her newest series, which begins with The Raven Boys, takes typical paranormal elements (clairvoyance, ghosts, prophetic dreams) and twists them into a work that exacerbates narrative tension. When Blue Sargent is introduced to the famous "raven boys," four young men who attend an elite private school in her rural Virginia town, she is swept into adventure that may end with one of their deaths.

The series isn't finished yet, but this is a book that is sure to produce conversations.

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
If you'd prefer a completed series, why not try Libba Bray's series, the Gemma Doyle trilogy. The series begins with A Great and Terrible Beauty, which is set in the Victorian era and follows Gemma Doyle as she leaves her native home of India after her mother is tragically killed. Discovering that she has unique powers (I won't give away what they are!), Gemma fights personal demons as well as outside forces as she strives to uncover her destiny.

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Edgar Allen Poe is the father of foreboding, strange and frightening tales, so it seems apropos that there is a YA book that re-imagines his characters. Drawing on Poe's famous works like The Masque of the Red Death, Kelly Creagh's novel Nevermore  combines a dash of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series with a heavy dose of the macabre.

When cheerleader Isobel becomes a study partner with "goth boy" Varen, she quickly finds that there is more to him than rumor and innuendo. Fantasy and horror collide as Isobel becomes immersed in Varen's world - but will she survive this dark tale or go crazy like the infamous Poe?

If you enjoy that series, try The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  The heroine is thrust into a world of violence, mystery and danger - the last book in the series, The Retribution of Mara Dyer is not a novel I will easily forget.                                                                                                     
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
Marcus Sedgwick's YA novel The Foreshadowing is an overlooked but intense short work that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Set during World War I, Alexandra risks everything to rescue her brother, a soldier in the war. As Alexandra continues to dream of her brother's death, the reader is ultimately asked to decide whether one's destiny is in their control or subject to other demands.

Similarly, The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer takes spooky to a whole other level as it portrays Mia, a young woman who is forced to go abroad when a demon invades her body and spirit. These are works that epitomize the atmospheric paranormal novel.

Give Up the Ghost by Meghan Crewe
Last but not least, what's a spooky story without a ghost or two? Try Give Up the Ghost by Meghan Crewe, a YA novel that depicts a young heroine who can see ghosts. Cass's ability has caused her to withdraw from human society, and not until she gets involved with someone who forces her to see beyond her own problems does she truly start to live again.

Texas Gothic, an e-book by Rosemary Clement-Moore is another book that gives you a chill: ghosts, cowboys and a summer romance - what's not to love? So take the plunge; these books will be sure to bring a shiver of delight!