YA That Slays: A Buffy-Inspired Batch of Kick-Butt Books

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Over 20 years after the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is a new entry in the Buffyverse: Kiersten White’s Slayer, which hit shelves on January 8. White’s latest YA novel follows Nina and her twin sister, Artemis. Both have been raised at the Watchers Academy, an organization responsible for protecting Slayer lore, demon knowledge, and the Slayers themselves. Nina’s spent her entire life resenting Buffy, the Slayer responsible for her father’s death. Now, Buffy is also responsible for ridding the world of all magic—and just as Nina started demonstrating Slayer powers. In other words, Nina may be the last Slayer . . . ever. When you’ve finished this action-packed series starter and are itching for your next Buffy fix (but already know all the episodes by heart), here are 11 reading recommendations, all based on specific Buffy episodes, to turn to.

 

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 Alif the Unseenby G. Willow Wilson
Season One, Episode:”I, Robot . . . You, Jane”

Did you enjoy this episode’s portrayal of the perils of the early Internet as represented by a catfishing demon? While sadly this novel does not include Willow’s early Apple laptop in all its glory, it does have that late nineties feel, with a supersmart hacker—and some unleashed jinns—to boot. Let’s just say things get complicated.

 

 

 

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All the Rageby Courtney Summers
Season Two, Episode: “Reptile Boy”

“Reptile Boy” explored date rape in a very real way. All the Rage gets at the same ideas. How can the golden boy be a rapist? All the Rage doesn’t necessarily have the same quippishness that defines Buffy—the serious tone of the book is more reminiscent of season six—but both the social element of the fraternity and the teen perspective in “Reptile Boy” make this episode a perfect fit nonetheless. And no matter what, you should read this book.

 

 

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Avalon Highby Meg Cabot
Season Two, Episode: “I Only Have Eyes for You”

In this episode, Buffy and Angelus (both possessed by ghosts from 1955) reenact the final moments of a tragic romance in an attempt to rewrite its ending. The crew at Avalon High is doing the same thing—except their tragic love story is that of King Arthur and Guinevere. This is a more angsty Buffy episode, but Cabot’s entertaining novel channels Buffy‘s fast-paced humor.

 

 

 

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Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble, by Anna Meriano
Season Two, Episode: “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”

In Meriano’s cozy series starter, Leo discovers her family of brujas, or witches, practices magic, a tradition she’s been excluded from due to her age. So when Leo has the opportunity to help a friend with a tricky relationship (read: boy crush), she pounces on it—and throws in some magic of her own. In “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” Xander, too, hopes to whip up a little magic, but love spells and vengeance are never easy. While Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble targets a younger audience than Buffy, both story lines explore the consequences of meddling with others’ feelings.

 

Image result for dread nation book Dread Nationby Justina Ireland
Season Three, Episode: “Dead Man’s Party”

When the reanimated dead begin to prowl battlefields during the Civil War, Jane, the protagonist of Ireland’s explosive novel, must train to fight them. In “Dead Man’s Party,” the second episode following Buffy‘s season two finale, Buffy returns home to face her mother—and ends up battling the undead. The comparison between these two plots may seem obvious, as “Dead Man’s Party” is Buffy’s main zombie episode, but that’s not all they have in common: both star kick-butt heroines facing complicated family relationships and trying to save the world, even when up against forces outside their control.

 

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The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
Season Three, Episode: “Gingerbread”

“Gingerbread” blurs the lines between reality and fairy tale when two dead children with potential connections to the origins of “Hansel and Gretel” stir up a frenzy in Sunnydale. In The Hazel Wood, Alice confronts the fact that creatures from popular fairy tales written by her grandmother may not all be imaginary—or have Alice’s best interests at heart. Ultimately, both stories illuminate the more sinister side of fairy tales and human nature, especially as characters in each outgrow their childlike perspectives.

 

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Rebel Belleby Rachel Hawkins
Season One, Episode: “Welcome to the Hellmouth”

In the Buffy season one premiere, Buffy hopes for a fresh start in Sunnydale and to reclaim her cheerleader title—or to, at the very least, have normal friends. Thing start out well (after all, she’s the cool girl who moved from LA), but in the end, Buffy can’t escape her destiny as the Slayer, the one girl fated to fight forces of darkness. In Hawkins’ YA novel, Harper is focused on running the student government, preparing for cotillion, and winning homecoming queen. Harper never planned for superpowers or a destiny protecting her nemesis, newspaper reporter and apparent Oracle, David Stark. It’s always fun to see popular, opinionated girls celebrated. And both of these stories introduce girls who are underestimated by society, but can kick your butt—and have great one-liners prepared for when they do. 

 

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 Sawkill Girlsby Claire Legrand
Season Two, Episode: “The Dark Age”

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll . . . and demons. This Buffy episode spotlights the mysterious past of Buffy’s Watcher, Giles. In it, a demon once wronged by Giles comes back to haunt him. In Sawkill Girls, girls have been disappearing for decades, and there are murmurs of monsters. When Marion moves to town, she meets loner Zoey and popular Val. Both girls are impacted by the disappearances in different ways, and things soon come to a head. Both Sawkill Girls and “The Dark Age” involve facing the demons of one’s past, whether they be the sins of the father (or mother)or youthful indiscretions.

 

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 The Rest of Us Just Live Hereby Patrick Ness
Season Three, Epsiode: “The Zeppo”

Xander, one of Buffy’s best buds, doesn’t have powers. He’s not a Slayer, a witch, or even a werewolf. “The Zeppo” follows Xander as he lives his life. While the rest of his friends save the world from supernatural elements, Xander protects his classmates in a different way: he prevents a bomb from going off in the school basement. Similarly, in The Rest of Us Just Live Here, protagonist Mikey is just trying to battle his anxiety, maybe ask out the girl he likes, and stay out of the way of heroes saving the day in the background. Capturing the spirit of Buffy, Ness’s novel remains lighthearted and fun while tackling real issues and providing inspiration for anyone who knows what it’s like not to be a “Chosen One.”

 

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 The Walls around Us, by Nova Ren Suma
Season One, Epsiode: “Witch”

In “Witch,” wannabe cheerleader Amy longs to live up to her mother’s star cheerleader legacy. Meanwhile, Amy’s mom will do anything to recapture her glory days. The dancers in Suma’s novel, too, are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams. Both plots offer peeks into the high-stakes worlds of cheerleading and dancing, taking the familiar and twisting it into something wonderful and strange. And, as any Buffy fan knows, nothing is ever what it seems. 

 

 

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 We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour
Season Four, Episode: “The Freshman”

In “The Freshman,” Buffy feels displaced and uncomfortable in her new surroundings at UC-Sunnydale. She doesn’t even have a familiar library to research in (you know, having previously blown apart the school and all). In LaCour’s Printz winner, We Are Okay, narrator Marin is also a college freshman, experiencing her own trauma after losing Gramps, her caretaker and confidant. Though these stories channel different feelingsWe Are Okay taps into heartbreak; Buffy absurdity—both captivatingly explore the lost feeling that comes with entering a completely new phase in life.

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About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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