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Claudia Gray – the new Stephenie Meyer?

Originally posted on Great stories, 4 July

Given the phenomenal global success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, there’s a mad rush from publishers and publicists to find “the next Stephenie Meyer”.

Which is ironic, because it was only a year or so ago Meyer was being touted as “the next JK Rowling”.

I’m pretty sure authors themselves cringe at such comparisons, but in the current glut of urban fantasy, paranormal adventure and YA escapism hitting our shelves, they’re unavoidable.

Once author being compared to Meyer is Claudia Gray (the pseudonym of New York-based writer Amy Vincent). She’s currently two books into a planned four-book series about a gothic boarding school and the strange goings on there.

The Evernight series is told in the first person through the eyes of Bianca, a shy newcomer to the school who falls for fellow outsider Lucas.

For the first hundred or so pages, Evernight seemed to be heading into familiar Twilight territory. But then there was a very neat twist I hadn’t seen coming (having not gone out of my way to read too much about the series beforehand), which took the story in a new and interesting direction.

Without giving too much away, the series features vampires, vampire hunters and (in the second book, Stargazer), ghosts. It’s a kind of Twilight, Supernatural and Buffy hybrid, with a bit of Hogwarts thrown in for good measure.

Evernight introduces the main characters, establishes the mythology and sets the lines between the warring vampires and vampire hunters – which Gray then nicely blurs, ensuring the reader is never quite sure who’s “good” and who’s not.

Stargazer then ups the ante with more tension and twists as Bianca and Lucas try to make their relationship work, and new elements are added to increase the sense of mystery and menace. It’s these twists and turns, and the relative complexities of the relationships between a number of characters, that makes this series more than just another teen vampire love story. That, and the fact Gray is a good storyteller.

So … is she the next Meyer?

We’ve talked before on this blog (Great stories) about why Meyer’s novels have struck such a chord with readers. The appeal is undeniably the intense relationship between Bella and Edward, particularly the idea of a powerful, sexy vampire denying his very nature to love and protect the human he craves.

While the Bianca-Lucas romance drives the Evernight story, it’s as much a suspenseful gothic mystery as it is a love story. The relationships aren’t always healthy, and truth is never black or white, which makes the story all the more interesting.

Gray’s author bio refers to her lifelong interest in old houses, classic movies, vintage style and history, and she nicely weaves these elements into her narrative.

It’s not fair to compare Gray to Meyer. Gray is an unashamed fan of vampire stories – particularly those not mired in horror – and Everynight and Stargazer pay homage to that.

These YA books are fast-paced and suspenseful, and while there’s not the underlying sexiness of the Bella-Edward dynamic, there are plenty of hot and heavy moments with Bianca and Lucas (with their own complications, of course).

(See original post on Great stories for past comments)

Update: You can check out my review for the next book, Hourglass, here.

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About paulaweston

I'm a writer. And a reader.

5 responses »

  1. Pingback: Lili St Crow – Strange Angels « Other worlds

  2. Pingback: Hourglass – Claudia Gray « Other worlds

  3. Pingback: Afterlife – Claudia Gray « Other worlds

  4. I have commented elsewhere about this series, and am now looking forward to Afterlife. I thought it might be worth a comment that I have just re-read Evernight and I think I found it more enjoyable second time around. Possibly, because I wasn’t rushing to turn the page to see what happens next, I was able to take my time and enjoy the narrative.

    At this time, we are just over two weeks away from the release of the final film in the Harry Potter series (Deathly Hallows part II), so I also find myself re-reading The Half Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows and watching the whole film series again (talk about bleary eyed!). So it was nice to revisit this blog and think about the original question comparing Rowling, Meyer and Gray.

    Personally, I think Rowling is a cut above the rest – having not started to read the series until the sixth book had been released, the Harry Potter books quickly entered, and have stayed in, my favourites list. I believe that the story telling and mythology are right up there with Tolkein.

    With the benefit of a couple of years since the Twilight phenomenon (I too joined the girls and women of the world staying up until three in the morning to finish off the next book..) I look back now and wonder (just a bit) what all the fuss was about. Even whilst devouring the books first time around, I can remember being frustrated with characters and felt some of the plot lines were weak (Edward’s reason for leaving in New Moon just seemed petty to me). Yet I and the world was indeed devouring these books, so Meyer was obviously onto something. I did find that the film adaptations managed to justify or reconcile some of the frustrations that I found with the books – the actors giving performances that made me sympathetic to their characters rather than annoyed, as I found sometimes in the books. To me, therefore, Meyer lacks something as a story teller that the makers of the movie adaptations have. I am curious to see how Breaking Dawn is adapted to the screen.

    Finally, is Gray the new Meyer – time has possibly shown that sales-wise she is not? But I think Gray has the YA gothic genre down to a fine art.

    Reply
    • Great comment! Thanks. 🙂

      I’ve only read the Twilight series once, and was incredibly frustrated through the first two books, but was just as addicted as everyone else. I stand by my call that the first book is by far the best and most tightly written. I also agree that the best lines in the movies so far have come from the screenwriters.

      I really like Gray’s series, and I don’t think even she wanted to be the new Meyer (bank balance aside, I assume!). I’m definitely keen to read her upcoming books.

      Oh, and Rowling is undoubtedly the queen of them all – those books will still be awesome in twenty years!!

      Reply

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