With The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 hitting cinemas this week, the excitement amongst fans is reaching fever pitch. In her blog below, author Jana Oliver examines what makes the supernatural such an alluring genre for young and old alike.
What is it about the supernatural? Why is it that we can never seem to get enough of it? Given the popularity of young adult paranormal novels and movies that question is a hot topic at present. At the heart of the interest in "things that go bump in the night" (or sprout fangs and claws and try to eat you) is the age-old lure of being special.
When we were teens we were caught in a maelstrom of confusing messages, convinced that the world was out to get us. We were the outcasts, the weird ones who didn't fit in no matter how hard we tried. In a 2009 a Boston.com article entitled Where the Coolest Kids Are Like, Undead, Globe correspondent and Binghamton University educator Liz Rosenberg unpacked why vamps and teens are so alike. She states, "...vampires are great metaphorical teenagers...They stay up all night and sleep all day. They hunger for what they can't have, and are never satisfied. They are the original emo-goths, dressing in black, going without sleep, exuding a brooding, outsider sexiness."
As adults we try to fit in with our peers, but not so much as to become one of the pack. The love of vamps and other paranormal entities reflects our desire to be true to ourselves, even if that involves bloodsucking or howling at the moon. What better way to investigate that "different-ness" than through the pages of a book or on the small or big screens?
Though some sneer at teen stories, it's not all about getting dates or buying the right clothes for the dance. Young adult fiction, even when cloaked in a paranormal robe, addresses core issues teens (and adults) face on a daily basis. Viewed at a safe distance through a book, a television show or a movie, we can experience love and loss, birth and death, selfishness and sacrifice. Just as in life, a character's decisions may have unintended consequences and often those come with a huge price tag. At the back of our mind we ask, "What would I have done? Would I have had the courage to take on the evil demon intent on destroying my city?"
Otherworldly tales remain popular because they allow us to escape our everyday lives. For a few hours we can experience all the wonders of a new world, both the good and the bad. We can set aside the maths homework or that stack of reports waiting for us on our desk at work. Instead we can hike through a dark forest hunting werewolves, stand on a tall tower battling an evil wizard or dance in the moonlight with a handsome and sexy vampire.
Today's young adult paranormal tales help us find our inner hero and survive in the everyday world. And if along the way there's some love to be found and a few evil doers to slay, so much the better.
Join in the Twilight Saga book swap over at Book Crossing and HuffPost UK Ents Facebook page and discover Breaking Dawn for yourself and the chance to win some Twilight Saga prizes! The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is in cinemas Friday.