What Would They Read?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
For several months now I have been creating recommendation lists for some notable characters for TV. I’ve been putting this one off, mainly because I am slightly intimidated to take on a Whedonverse show. So please forgive if I unsuccessfully tackle the pop culture phenomenon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS). Who knows… maybe if I succeed with this one, I’ll try another Joss Whedon masterpiece, Firefly.
In a TV show that centers around so much reading and research mixed with punching and stabbing, creator Joss Whedon does manage to name-drop a few literary titles here and there. In the “Band Candy” episode, Buffy refers to Willy Loman from the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. During season five, Buffy encounters the most popular vampire in all literature in the episode “Buffy vs. Dracula.” I don’t want to jump the gun, but did Buffy actually read Dracula by Bram Stoker? If not, then I definitely am tossing that title to her. Honestly, it’s more of a textbook for her than recreational reading, but so what? If these literary examples tell us anything, it’s that obviously Buffy and the Scooby Gang must love books! So, without further ado, here are some recommendations for our Sunnydale pals!
Buffy Summers – I just want to state for the record that I would never ever give Buffy Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. While the star-crossed lovers scenario might ring a bit true, I believe that Buffy would never be able to get through a book in which vampires don’t kill you, but rather play baseball and sparkle in the sun. There has been much speculation about what Buffy would do in Bella Swan’s world, i.e. whether or not she would slay Edward and his family. Also, as we have seen in several episodes of BTVS, vampires and werewolves aren’t enemies. Angel and Oz get along just fine, although that aren’t fighting over the same girl. That being said, I think we could come up with a more suitable reading choice for Buffy.
We have seen Buffy take on a variety of beasties and demons throughout her seven years, however there is one creature that never proved to be much of a threat: the unicorn. Right away, I would pull the “Killer Unicorns” series by Diana Peterfreund. This book series, starting with Rampant, is about an ancient order of female teenaged unicorn hunters who must join together to stop vicious unicorn attacks. Unlike the random selection of slayers in Buffy’s world, these hunters are descendants from unicorn hunters of the past. The book is full of training, unbelievable realizations, and forbidden love; all things that Buffy can understand in ways other readers cannot.
As I stated earlier, while Buffy certainly could relate to a book about vampire love or some other kind of star-crossed romance, I don’t know if that’s exactly what she would like to read. Often Buffy mentions her desire to be a normal girl and do average things with no knowledge of what goes bump in the night. It is this craving that leads me to find realistic fiction books for her to read. Often we like to read things that are used as a form of escapism like dystopian or fantasy novels. Since Buffy basically lives in a world that normal people would use to escape reality, it makes sense that Buffy would like to read books about real life issues as her way to shut out the darkness she experiences daily.
The first author that comes to mind in this vein is Sarah Dessen. Dessen has a fantastic way of creating well-rounded characters that leave you wanting to be friends with them in real life. Specifically, I would give Buffy What Happened to Goodbye (a 2012 Teens’ Top Ten winner). In this book, McLean has been traveling with her dad, the restaurant consultant, for several years. Each time this reach a new town, McLean reinvents herself to try on a new personality. After a while, she doesn’t really remember which traits are real and which were just fabricated. Buffy would commiserate with the struggle McLean lives as she was forced to leave behind her life and friends when moving to Sunnydale.
Finally, Buffy needs to smile and laugh once in a while. Strictly for amusement, I would give Buffy 2011 Morris Award finalist, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Sam’s life may be similar to Buffy’s in that he discovers he is not just a normal guy, but is really a necromancer. The two also share a fantastic ability to execute flawless cases of witty banter with their friends. They’ve even both worked in the food industry, also Buffy much more briefly. This title, the first in a series, will allow Buffy an opportunity to relate to some of Sam’s struggles, but also laugh at the bizarre situations he stumbles upon while trying to come to terms with his powers.
I didn’t intend to fill this whole entry with just Buffy recommendations, but apparently that’s what happened. That being said, keep your eyes open next month for a continuation of book recommendations for more characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
-Brandi Smits, currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling