Beyond Vampire

Beyond Vampire

We get a lot of misdirected fan mail at the Teen Ink office. Lots of readers have noticed that our senior editor is one Stephanie Meyer, and the fan mail usually says something like "Teen Ink is great, and so is Twilight! Please write more books!" Well, if you're one of those readers, I hate to disappoint you, but our Stephi is an entirely different person from the beloved young adult author (though, if you ask us, she's even more deserving of fan mail).

Everyone knows that the Twilight books have become a cultural phenomenon, so much so that it seems like almost every book in the average bookstore's young adult section is about vampires. But what if you're ready to move on? Below, check out some of my favorite YA books that don't have a vampire in sight.

I plan on making several 'beyond vampires' reading lists based on Teen Inkers' requests, and this is only the first. Stay tuned to Teen Ink Weekly for more to come! This week, I'm focusing on novels that feature strong, savvy, butt-kicking female leads...because even most of Twilight's diehard fans will agree that Bella Swan is a bit of a doormat.

Graceling: Oh, man, Graceling rules. It's among my favorite young adult books of recent years, and Katsa, its heroine, is only one of many reasons why. The others? A compelling, well-built fantasy world, a page-turning plot, awesome magical powers, and an ultra-dreamy romantic hero who loves and respects the heroine's strength. You so need to read this one.

The Song of the Lioness: I was always a bit of a teacher's pet growing up--I raised my hand all the time and was known to get really excited about school on many occasions. But one day in middle school, I was so swept up in this amazing girl-knight series by Tamora Pierce that I actually hid my paperback copy inside my textbook so I could read it during class. Yes, I got in trouble, and no, I don't recommend doing that. But it should tell you something about just how great these books are. Guys. They are so great.

The Hunger Games: Embarrassing confession time: I actually haven't read The Hunger Games yet. But! Everyone and their sister is talking about this dystopian series and its awesome heroine, Katniss. (So many strong female characters in YA have names that begin with Kat. It's weird.) It's a huge bestseller and some are calling it the next Twilight. Give it a read and tell me what you think!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Zombies are scary. Dystopian futures are scary. Trying to figure out which of two beautiful guys you love, while scary, sometimes needs to take a back seat in the face of that dystopian zombie apocalypse going on in your backyard. Besides having pretty much the best title ever, The Forest of Hands and Teeth features a practical and thoughtful heroine who faces all these issues with aplomb. It'll rock your socks, and it's the perfect creepy read for Halloween.

See, Bella? You can enjoy an awesome romance or two while still maintaining your own independent and equally awesome solo existence. Just ask Katsa, Alanna, Katniss, or Mary. They'll tell you all about it.