Mega-successful books series like “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” don’t come around every day. The flowery tales of Edward and Bella and the fantastical adventures of Harry and his schoolmates have entrenched themselves in the hearts of loyal followers, leaving room for little else. But the June 5 release of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” spin-off novella “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” marks the end of an era. That’s why the publishers, authors and booksellers at BookExpo America this week were eager to tout their upcoming releases as the next big thing.
MTV News scoured the trade show and soaked in the hype. Check back at our Hollywood Crush blog for reviews of many of these titles when they’re available. But in the meantime, here are five buzzed-about books whose mythical creatures and evil dystopias seem the most promising. Many of them are already being prepped for the big screen too.
“I Am Number Four”
What It’s About: A group of young aliens land on Earth after their own planet is destroyed, secretly integrating themselves into society where they slowly learn they’re developing powers. When those responsible for blowing up their planet track them down and begin killing them in sequential order, our hero John Smith (otherwise known as Number Four) vows to dish vengeance on the bad guys, all while juggling a hot and heavy love triangle involving his fellow extraterrestrial Sarah (Number Six) and a human girl.
What Could Make It the Next “Twilight”: The book by “Pitacus Lore” (the pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes) doesn’t hit shelves until August 17, but that didn’t stop Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay and the creators of “Smallville” from teaming up to produce a big-budget film that’s set for a 2011 release. Alex Pettyfer of “Beastly” and Dianna Agron from “Glee” are among the stars already attached. That alone could help the book shoot to the top of the pile, but at its heart the title is about one young man and his quest to discover himself, get the girl and take down the enemy.
What It’s About: A government weapons project goes awry, turning much of the population into blood-sucking vampires. The book follows the story of Amy, a young survivor who remains mostly unaffected by the virus and may be the key to saving the human race. Interestingly, the tale shifts between two time periods, jumping 100 years into the future, when Amy is still alive (cue spooky music).
What Could Make It the Next “Twilight”: Author Justin Cronin developed his book, which come out on June 8, while listening to his 13-year-old daughter obsess over Stephenie Meyer. Like the “Twilight” series, the story revolves around a special girl. Director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Blade Runner”) apparently agrees and has optioned the book to develop into a feature film.
“The Hunger Games”
What It’s About: In a oppressive country called Panem, every year, two children from each of 12 districts are sent to compete in a televised arena battle to the death. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen has the advantage of archery skills and something-more-than-friendship with fellow District 12 tribute Peeta.
What Could Make It the Next “Twilight”: Suzanne Collins’ trilogy (third book, “Mockingjay” is out August 24) has created a fierce, selfless heroine, a tragic love triangle and a frightening dystopian future that’s captured adults and teens alike. There aren’t any vampires in sight, but fans’ enthusiasm for these books is growing mighty feverish. Lionsgate is slated to begin filming a movie adaptation in early 2011.
What It’s About: Imagine Hogwarts, but more deadly and with sexy vampires instead of wussy wizards. “Vampire Academy” follows the adventures of Rose Hathaway, a half-vampire student of the boarding school who is training to become her best friend’s bodyguard. Though she’s often battling evil vampires, the series is not without a heaping of romance here and there.
What Could Make It the Next “Twilight”: When we covered the “Vampire Academy” books last year, we called Richelle Mead’s series the “perfect antidote” to frustrations over Bella often playing the victim. In this series, we get a strong female character who’s more liable to kick someone else’s ass on her own, rather than relying on any strapping hunks to do it for her. And as of today, the latest book in the franchise, “Spirit Bound,” has hit #1 on the best-seller charts.
“Beautiful Darkness” and “Beautiful Creatures”
What It’s About: The series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the book is told from the point-of-view of a high school student in the deep South who meets the girl of his dreams (literally). A tale of good versus evil, we follow the couple as the girl must choose between the dark side and the light side of her magical powers before her 16th birthday. “Beautiful Darkness” is out on October 12.
What Could Make It the Next “Twilight”: Like “Twilight,” teenage angst is mixed with Gothic charm, dark secrets and choices to be made. The book is heavy on the romance aspect as it follows two young lovers and the feverous attempt by the boy to sway his girlfriend to the more righteous path.