... are sometimes hard to find, at least if you're looking for YA books.
I've just been trawling through the YA shelves in the library, trying to choose some holiday reading for a keen teenage reader who isn't keen on supernatural romances. It isn't easy.
So what is on offer? Lots of characters defined by their capital letters: the Chasers, the Forgotten, the Immortals, the Demon King, the Storks (not birds, but an ancient order of women with mystical powers, if you're wondering.) Blood and ashes and other nasty stuff with dark covers. You can choose from a "scary, creepy, awful and awesome" read, a "gripping blood soaked tale" or " chilling trilogy with a deeply frightening story." There's a a boy who is supposed to be crowned Vampire King, a girl who can see and talk to ghosts and another girl who hunts, traps and kills demons, hellhounds and other supernatural creatures, but isn't quite sure who she is.
I'm sure some kids like to read these books - at least, I hope they do, because at least they would be reading something. I hope it's not just a matter of publishers jumping on the post-Twilight supernatural bandwagon and assuming kids will like them. You have to dig hard to find a book that reflects what a teenager's life is like today. Or to find books like Parvana's journey and The heaven shop by writers like Deborah Ellis, who deal with important issues like racism and refugees, and kids who face real-life problems.
I also wonder if all the writers writing these books actually like writing about vampires, werewolves and the rest. Again, some of them must, but what about all the others? Are they also doing it just to fit the trend?
But there is help out there. The Daily Telegraph has booklists for young readers including "Vampire-less books for teenagers" - so there you go.