I love YA vampire stories and in my opinion, the biggest hurdle authors with protagonist vampires have to jump is the vampire diet. What I’m going to be specifically looking at is how author’s ‘white-glove’ their vampire heroes. I couldn’t find an official definition for the term white-gloved, but what I mean by that is that the main character is innocent of guilt while participating in a collectively agreed upon villainous act. In vampire’s case it’s needing to feed on, and sometimes kill, humans to survive.
One of my favorite books series of all time is Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and her spin-off series, (which is even better in my opinion) Bloodlines. How she handles the human killing factor of vampirism is that if a Moroi (a good vampire) kills a human they lose their soul and transform into a Strigoi (an evil vampire). The blood our protagonists drink are from willing donors. In return, the donors get an endorphin rush from the bites. So, in this book “good” vampires don’t kill which keeps their hands clean aka wearing white gloves, even though they do drink human blood.
Twilight (you knew this was coming) by Stephenie Meyer takes a different approach. If her vampires begin to feed on a human there are only two outcomes, the human either dies or becomes a vampire. So, the family of “good” vampires, aka the Cullens, survive on an animal diet, what the books jokingly refer to as being a vegetarian vampire. Of the seven Cullen family members, only Carlisle and Rosalie have not tasted human blood. The rest of the family have killed humans and then have been “pardoned” for those kills. The vampire either killed human predators and/or criminals or the vampire has learned the error of his or her way and is now atoning for what they did in their past. Therefore, realizing it’s wrong is this series version of the white-glove idea.
Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series is the least white-gloved vampire I’ve ever read, and I love it. It’s a daring and innovative take, and better yet she pulls it off. In this series vampires can stop feeding without ending the human’s life, but if they don’t finish the kill the vampire either has to make sure the human didn’t see their face or trust (or own) the human. For our main character, Allie, revealing she’s a vampire is a death sentence for her. What makes Allie the least white-gloved vampire is that sometimes she kills with no other justification, except to eat.
What keeps Allie from being the villain of the story is her moral code which is shown when she begins to travel with a human vagabond group. She resists the urge to kill anyone she cares about. At the same time, she doesn’t pause for long to kill those she doesn’t have any allegiance to. This leaves us with a girl who has to over and over again make the choice of who lives, and who to kill in order to keep living herself.
In the Blood of Eden series and Twilight the only thing that stops the “good” vampires from killing is their moral code. The difference is Twilight’s protagonists are excused for there transgressions by having qualifiers, whereas the Blood of Eden series does not excuse the hero’s actions. It’s worth noting that “good” vampires are the exception not the norm in both of these stories. Whereas Vampire Academy the “good” vampires are the norm and the “bad” vampires the exception. Which might be due to the direct physiological punishment (losing their soul) that happens when they break the communities moral code, not strictly their own.
What do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? Is there another vampire series you think should be brought in on this discussion? Let me know in the comments!