Horror Survival Skills from YA Books

Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.
Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.

It’s the day before Halloween and perhaps this month you’ve watched a horror movie marathon or read a scary book. Have you ever  been watching one of those movies or reading one of those books, and it’s the scene where the hero/heroine walks into the dark, obviously haunted house to hide from the killer and you scream, “Don’t go in there!?”

Then they do. You all know better, right?

I often have this experience and wonder what I would do if I was in those terrifying situations, running from zombies or trying to fend off a serial killer. Since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my survival abilities, I will turn to the hobby I have a lot of confidence in: reading! I propose turning to the examples of plucky, resourceful, and brave heroes and heroines in YA literature to save you from the frights of Halloween and beyond.

Here are a few books you may want to read to prepare you for a few scary situations.

Scary situation # 1: Haunted by Ghosts

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones: Have you considered reasoning with the ghosts that haunt you? It works out fairly well for Sam Toop even though he is trying to save the ghosts, not save himself from ghosts. A little kindness goes a long away and maybe the ghost haunting you just wants a friend.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults): It’d be great if you could see the ghosts haunting you and could send them away with the tool of a special too like Rory, but if not consider assembling a crackerjack team of ghost hunters. Safety in numbers is always a good idea.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: If all else fails, try to get your hands on a ghost-killing knife like Cas. At the very least get a cat. Tybalt, Cas’s cat, senses ghosts like some people believe all cats to do.

Scary Situation #2: Surviving the horror that is in your mind

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (2008 Printz winner): Having trouble handling an ill-advised polar expedition and feel like you need a friend to help you make sense of your world? Consider an imaginary friend! If your imaginary friend happens to be a real-life – though long dead – Antarctic explorer, even better!

Conversion by Katharine Howe: Not sure if what is happening to you and your friends is real? Hit the books and look for a literary and historical precedent. It may save you from thinking you’re being driven mad and sick by a coterie of witches.

More Than This by Patrick Ness: It’s hard for Seth what is real, what’s in your head and what is outside of it. To survive this situation, you need to question everything. Is this the real world or is it not? Investigation is key; don’t stop until you get some answers.

Scary situation #3: Surviving a serial killer

i hunt killers barry lyga coverI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): In a strange way, it’s helpful if you happen to be related to this serial killer and know his methods, like Jasper Dent, but if not, research is again key. As creepy as it is, try getting into his mind to anticipate his next move.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Again, try your hand at profiling, reading emotions, and trying to notice everything. But don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in the case, like Cassie, or you will find yourself in the middle of one. And in danger.

Scary Situation #4: Surviving the Apocalypse

Blood Red Road by Moira Young: Learning how to distill water would be helpful here, but so is scavenging, riding a horse, and being able to fight your way out of any situation. Also, if you happen upon a cool, tough girl gang you should probably join them.

Life as we Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer(2007 Best Book for Young Adults; 2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults): After reading this book, I had to fight the urge to clear the shelves of  my local supermarket. Seriously, stock up on some provisions while you still can! It will beat having to venture out into a blizzard-bound climatological disaster-world to try and find food.

Scary Situation #4.5: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Practice, practice, practice! When your job is killing zombies, that’s what you need to do whether ir be with a samurai sword or whatever you can find. Take a note from Benny Imura’s handbook and always keep your friends close. They will save you in the end.

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin: Four words for you: Don’t. Eat. The. Chicken. Seriously, go for a salad or something. Plus, all those other zombie movies and books you’ve seen and read? It’s all true, so remember the highlights!

Other scary situations you can learn from:

Surviving an evil, fairytale baker: Far, Far Away  by Tom McNeal

Surviving the worst day ever: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

Surviving scary, not sparkly vampires: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown  by Holly Black

I can’t guarantee that if you read all of these books you’ll be prepared for whatever scary situation may come across your path, but it can’t hurt. If all else fails throw your bag full of all these amazing titles at the bad guys and run!

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Dangerous by Shannon Hale