One of the first young adult (YA) vampire fiction series that I read was the Twilight series. I first read it because one of our daughters was impressed and said I should read it. Since then, I have had a tendency to read various types of YA fiction. I tend to choose YA fiction that is going to be made into movies, if possible.
So, recently, I have been reading the Vampire Academy series. And, I read something in there that troubled me an awful lot. No, it was not the philosophical underpinnings. Nor, was it the inevitable romantic attachments. After all, much of today’s modern fiction has inevitable romantic relationships. However, YA fiction normally has limits in that the fiction will not be considered YA fiction if the romantic relationship crosses certain behavioral lines. In passing, that is why I read YA fiction. I know that I can safely read it because certain lines will not be crossed.
WARNING: SPOILER COMING
This particular series crosses a certain dangerous line. The girl is a high school senior who is 17 years old. Because she is training to be a “Guardian,” a protector of “good” vampires, she has a combat instructor who is seven years older than she is, or 24 years old. [NOTE: the series is not structured around her romantic relationship.]
OK, let me make a side comment. In this series there are “good” vampires who are alive and “bad” vampires who are undead. No, it does not make sense. You simply have to suspend logic on this particular point. Now, back to the heroine of the series.
The girl develops a crush on her instructor. That did not bother me because that is not an unusual situation in high school, and has not been an unusual situation since before I was ever in high school. Nor do I find it unusual that her instructor appears to struggle with feelings towards her. After all, anyone can be tempted towards inappropriate behavior.
What does bother me is that her instructor begins to lose control and begins to slowly respond to her. Eventually, while she is still in high school, they have sex and she loses her virginity to him. That is what bothers me. The problem is that the books picture this attraction, and then its culmination, as something above reproach. Two things are clear in the books. The first is that both the heroine and the instructor know that there will be trouble if they are found out, although the trouble is significantly downplayed. The second is that the books picture this “romance” as good.
Here is the problem. On the one hand, we immediately prosecute and put in jail any teacher who has sex with an underage student. On the other hand, this incredibly popular series, which is also being made into a movie, is telling high school girls that it is OK to have an affair with a teacher. If you are a high school girl with a crush on one of your teachers, you have just been given the go-ahead to follow through in spite of any regulations against such a relationship. More than that, this series gives you the go-ahead to keep this relationship hidden from any adult and from any of your friends.
So, as entertaining as this series is—it actually has a reasonable plot line and character development—it brings up the question of what are we telling our high school students. A high school student reading this series would be taught that the law is wrong and that an affair with one of the teachers is not wrong. Were s/he to carry it out, s/he would be shocked and surprised when his/her teacher were jailed.
The bottom line is that as entertaining as this series is, it has a fatal flaw that leads me to recommend to parents that their teenagers should not read it.