Genre: Paranormal Romance/Manga
Vampire Knight is a well-known, 19 volume Shojo Beat manga (aimed toward a female audience) by Matsuri Hino. This manga is rated T+ for older teens because it does have some sexual connotations as well as some (light?) gore.
The story revolves around Yuki Cross, a girl found at the age of ten covered in blood. Who was it to find her but a vampire, Kaname Kuran. She is then adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy (hence her last name) and becomes a member of the disciplinary committee at an academy that favors peace between humans and vampires. The day class is made up of humans, while the night class, unknown to the day class, is made up of vampires.
Soon, a boy named Zero joins Yuki and the headmaster in their happy little adoptive family. His whole family was slaughtered by vampires, so Zero has a hard time keeping his cool at Cross Academy. What Yuki doesn’t know (until maybe volume 3 or 4) is that Zero was bitten by a pure-blood vampire, meaning his body is slowly changing into a creature of the night, and he must survive on blood tablets, which is the main source of food for the night class (who do not feed off of humans).
One of the big elements of this series is the love triangle between Yuki and Zero, and Yuki and Kaname. So of course we have the savior, Kaname, who Yuki absolutely adores, but Zero has been in her life just as long, and she has always been there for him. When Zero’s feelings become known, Yuki isn’t too sure what to do. Kaname assures Zero that Yuki will never be with him, for she already belongs to the Kuran family. It becomes even more of an entangled mess when Zero is deemed a vampire hunter, which seems to go against the wishes of Cross Academy.
One of the things that really keeps the reader going is that question, “Is Kaname going to turn her into a vampire?” Okay, so I can’t say SPOILER ALERT here, because what happens next is in volume 9, only halfway through the series. So read this paragraph at your own risk. It turns out that Yuki Cross was actually Yuki Kuran all along, Kaname’s pure-blood vampire sister to whom he is betrothed. Kaname reawakens Yuki’s vampire blood which was set to dormancy to keep her safe from the evil vampire senate.
The second half of the series was not quite as interesting because that question that keeps us going for the first half has already presented the answer. So the second half is all about Kaname and his need to destroy all the pure-bloods and have himself become the special metal that vampire hunters use for their weapons. The original vampire to do this was long dead, but there is a hunter origin story that takes place within the series as well. With this, Yuki sets out to stop him. This is where a lot of the gore takes place in the series, a lot of bloodshed going on.
After being reinstated to her pure-blood state, Yuki and Zero can no longer be friends, according to Zero. But when Kaname is going out to finish his goal, Zero and Yuki team up once more to find him. When they do find him, the climactic ending takes place. I will not say the ending, but I will say that the ending felt like a bit of a cop-out on the author’s side, somewhat similar to the endings of How I Met Your Mother and the Infernal Devices (Cassandra Clare)–MAJOR COP-OUTS FOR THE FEMALE PROTAGONIST! I’m not saying it was a bad ending, I’m just pointing out that getting both lovers in the end, no matter how it is done, doesn’t seem like a realistic ending.
On that note, if you are a girl and you love yourself a nice vampire romance, read this series! It’s pretty fast-paced, even after that midway slowdown where some questions are answered, but new questions arise in place of the old. Most female readers enjoy the cop-out ending anyway, so you might just want to see how she ends up with both of them in this scenario.
If vampires are not your thing, then NO, you should not read this book. If cop-out endings are not your thing, don’t even look at this book! If you are looking for something with a lot of blood, this is not the book to turn to–the gore is very minimal here.
SIDE NOTE: Matsuri Hino has some other great stuff too. For any fan of her writing (although translated) or her art, I would recommend Meru Puri (4 Volumes) and Wanted (1 Volume).