As we know, Buffy’s premiere had its 20th reunion this year (Ah!). Now, admittedly, I wasn’t Buffy’s target audience at its premiere. I did hit that age as it was coming onto DVD, so I got to binge watch it like the Netflix power user I am not. I would hole myself away for entire weekends powering through this show. And I know my experience mirrors the experience of many others. So, let’s explore some YA that can give us some of the same feels as the Scooby Gang.
“Welcome to the Hellmouth” – Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
This was compared to Buffy by bloggers, including myself, straight out of the gate. It has a butt-kicking heroine against a supernatural element. It is quippy. While Buffy was created to be the cheerleader that fights back in the dark alley, she was never as popular as Harper outside of back-story. Harper’s like the perfect blend of Buffy and Cordelia. And it is so FUN to see a popular, opinionated girl celebrated instead of vilified. This is like those episodes between the highest of “big bad” angst. It’s Buffy at its most joyous.
“Witch”- The Walls Around Us by Nova Rae Suma
Amy’s mom will do anything to recapture her glory days. Suma’s dancers are willing to do anything for their dream. We get a peak into this high stakes world, whether it’s cheerleading or dancing. Suma takes something known and twists it in that wonderful way Buffy always accomplished. And, like in Buffy, not everything is how it may seem. Because what’s the fun in that?
“I, Robot….You, Jane”- Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
What about the perils of the early internet as represented by a cat fishing demon? While, sadly, this novel does not have Willow’s early Apple laptop in all it’s glory, it does have that same early internet feel, with a super smart hacker to boot. And then the jinn get involved just to make everything even MORE complicated. Even better? It’s written by G. Willow Wilson (of Ms. Marvel fame)!
“Reptile Boy”- All the Rage by Courtney Summers
It seemed like such a clever, veiled metaphor when I was 13. Now, I am like “yup, that’s a dick demon.” Still, “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 any of the quippiness that defines Buffy and its monsters. The tone of the book fits more with Season Six’s Spike incident. But the social element of the fraternity and the teen-ness of the early seasons just fit “Reptile Boy”. Regardless, you should read this book.
“I Only Have Eyes for You”- Avalon High by Meg Cabot
Buffy and Angelus are forced to reenact a tragic love story in an attempt to rewrite the ending. The crew of Avalon High are doing the same thing, except their tragic love story is that of King Arthur and Guinevere. This was my favorite Meg Cabot book as a teen. Yes, it beat out Mia Thermopolis. And who didn’t feel at least a little spiritually connected to Mia Thermopolis? While this may be a more angsty Buffy episode, Cabot channels a lot of the same fast-paced humor in her writing that typifies Buffy.
“The Zeppo”- The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness
This book made me think of the “The Zeppo” from the blurb alone. It inspired this whole mental exercise. Like “The Zeppo”, The Rest of Us Just Live here follows the “normals” (even if they’re not always totally normal) as the Chosen Ones save the day on the periphery. The zeppos of the world save the day in their way too, or at least save themselves. It is lighthearted and fun while tackling real issues. This captures the fun spirit of Buffy for a generation drowning in Chosen Ones.
“The Freshman”- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Buffy clearly feels lost in the Freshman. She feels displaced and uncomfortable in new surroundings. She doesn’t even have a familiar library to research in; you know, having blown apart the school and all. Marin in We Are Okay is going through her own trauma, having lost her support system. LaCour taps a little more into the heartbreak than the absurdity that Buffy channels. But they both explore that lost feeling of entering a completely new phase of life. This is a little book that will punch you in the stomach in the best way, and prepare you to enter a bigger world.