Friday, October 7, 2011

Teeth: Vampire Tale - Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Teeth is a YA anthology of unusual stories about vampires written by many a famous author. The goal of every story is to bring something new to the vampire subgenre, and almost every story in the collection does what it is meant to do.

I could easily go into each individual story and tell you my opinion of them, but I'd rather not ruin the entire collection for you, so I'll try not to get too in depth about any of the stories. As far as trying to bring something new to the vampire subgenre, I definitely think the majority of the authors succeeded. In this collection, there are stories about vampires from Asia, territorial issues and manipulative games involving them, and a particularly memorable story regarding the 'coming out' of vampires, complete with a high school assembly. Some of the ideas are amusing, some are sweet, some are romantic, and, yeah, some of them could have been better, but the best part about this collection is that each story is so short that the good ones tend to have amazingly leading endings, and the bad ones are over so fast they barely phase you.

Of the stories, my favorite was probably "Why Light?" by Tanith Lee, a story about a vampire who can survive the sun, and her arranged marriage to a vampire who can't stand a minute of it. It was a sweet, slightly romantic story that I thought was pretty fantastic, and I'd love to see a full book version, rather than a tiny short story. "All Smiles" by Steve Berman was a close second, and is the story of a gay boy in a type of military camp who runs away, tries hitchhiking, and gets way more than he expected when he gets a ride. Like Lee's story, "All Smiles" could easily make a fantastic full book, and this short story almost reads like the first chapter in what would be a book I'd pick up in an instant.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I was not even vaguely interested in Neil Gaiman and Emma Bull's contributions to the collection. Don't get me wrong, I like poetry, which is what these two decided to contribute. I like poetry a lot. But when I'm reading short stories, I want to read stories, not poetry. If I wanted poetry, I would be reading a collection of poems. I mean, the poems weren't terrible, but they weren't so amazing that I could forgive them for taking up a slot in the book instead of an awesome story, which I know these two could have done instead, and done well. One of the reasons I wanted to read this was Gaiman's name, and to find out that I get a poem instead of a cool story was just disheartening.

On the bright side, though, a lot of the other author contributions more than made up for those two poems, so I'd say that Teeth is still a cool book. I wouldn't read it all at one time, though, because the stories do tend to blur together. It's a perfect book for reading just before bed, or while you're waiting for an appointment or bus. It's not a 'sit down and make hot chocolate and read for two hours' kind of book, so much as it's a 'hey, I've got time to blow in this waiting room' kind of book.

If you like the usual vampire fiction that's so prevalent on the YA shelves, you'll probably love Teeth, and you should pick it up. If you like any of the authors who contributed, you'll probably like this too. If you're still raging at Twilight for starting this vampire craze, well, you probably weren't interested in Teeth to begin with.

If you want something light, quick, and easy to read while still being entertaining, grab a copy of Teeth when you get the chance!

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