YOU must read this! (Young Adult books are not just for teens!)
A lot of Young Adult books have finally been given their due, mostly by the catalyst of Hollywood. (My theory is that screenwriters cannot write amazing movies that people want to see so they always fall back on the immensity of the YA book population.) And, although we catalogue these books as YA, meant for a younger audience than adults, the truth is, if you want quality, intense, and original stories, there is no better place to look than your local YA shelf. These stories will transport you into worlds you could never fathom, help you love characters that are neither good nor evil, and teach you (as they teach our kids) that “happily ever after” is not always the ending nor should it be. Funny how our kids are often more accepting of this type of conclusion than the adults in the worlds. And what a lesson for them to learn! People die, often noble deaths or even quiet ones. People don’t always end up with the person they were “meant” to be with, no matter how much we wish it were so. It’s not real. It’s not life. We get what we get and it’s what we do with “it” that, in the end, reveals the true character of our souls.
So…in no particular order…here are some pretty AMAZING series…
Beautiful Creatures series, by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia: THIS is my go-to series when I need to recommend a series to a student or when I need to remember just how amazing writing can be. Part supernatural, part romance, part real-world. You will love Ethan and Lena and their struggle to determine the difference between good and evil (and whether there is any difference at all). NOTE: Do not use the movie as a guide as to whether or not it’s worth the read. It is. I promise.
Divergent series by Veronica Roth: This series was amazing LONG before the hype of media. If you are looking for a strong female character, Tris is your girl. The one word I always come back to is BRAVE. This series is filled with intense and raw emotion and action, and Roth has a way of twisting the plot in ways you don’t necessarily see coming. I love the first line of the first book, Divergent: “There is one mirror in my house.” There is a reason why kids everywhere are flocking to this series.
Delirium series by Lauren Oliver: I don’t think this series has yet to hit the mainstream, but it won’t surprise me when it does. Lauren Oliver delivers an amazing dystopian story, where LOVE is the enemy, the disease to be avoided. “Love: It will kill you and save you, both.” And I love the fact that the first book in this trilogy takes place in Portland, Maine.
Across the Universe series by Beth Revis: This is another undiscovered gem of a series and its setting is completely unique. Imagine soaring through space on the spaceship, Godspeed, on your way to a new planet that you will help populate, and you are cryogenically frozen. And yet, someone does not want you to survive, you or the other frozens, and you are unplugged and left to die. Luckily, you (Amy) survive and try to unravel the secrets of Godspeed, while keeping yourself alive and the frozens, frozen. So begins the first book in the trilogy.
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins: I would be remiss if I did not include this series into the list, since it seems to be the series that has exploded the world of dystopian novels. Apart from the Hollywood-hype, this series is truly riveting, with its believable characters, compelling plot, and, like others, it’s never exactly clear who you should be rooting for and who you should not. In a world that condones the killing of children for sport, this series is haunting and will stay with you long after you have finished reading it. (And if you have seen the movie(s), don’t use that as an excuse as to not read the books. The book is ALWAYS better.)
Legend series by Marie Lu: I just finished the final book in this trilogy and it does not disappoint. The way that Lu manages to intertwine two unlikely characters…fifteen-year old Day, the Republic’s most notorious rebel that no one can identify and fifteen-year old June, the Republic’s military prodigy. In a world of haves and have-nots, along with corrupt government, nothing is ever truly as it seems, not for Day or June and certainly not for you, the reader.
Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman: This series has haunted me since I read it because Shusterman has created a plot that, while seems impossible, also seems a little too possible. The world has decided that life is sacred and no fetus is allowed to be aborted. Unwanted babies can be “storked,” left to another family required to raise the baby. But, parents with too many mouths to feed or unruly children have to a choice to have them unwound between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. The process is well-guarded, but everyone knows that 99% of you must be kept alive, your organs distributed. A compelling read, but haunting in its realism.
Gone series by Michael Grant: This series is not for the faint of heart. With most books around 500 pages, this series requires commitment, but it will pay off. I often tell my students that Michael Grant is the Stephen King of Young Adult Literature because the images and situations that Grant has crafted for his characters are creepy, disgusting, and yet, eerily intriguing. In a flash, everyone over fourteen has disappeared and everyone else is trapped under an impenetrable dome. This series has it all…chaos…mayhem…murder…love…disease …friendship…corruption…
Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater: I love the simplicity of this trilogy. There’s no guessing what’s going on, no deciphering of the world, no overpowering government. A simple story of a girl, Grace, who falls in love with Sam, who happens to turn into a wolf when the temperature plummets. It’s a feel good story that has you rooting for this teenage couple who have serious odds stacked against them. (And it’s pretty cool that the font color matches the book.)
Life As We Knew It series by Susan Beth Pfeffer: The series was written over five years, with the latest one just published in August. The series begins when a meteor hits the moon, throwing it off kilter, affecting everything, causing massive global weather changes, and throwing the world into chaos. In the first book, the reader sees the world as Miranda experiences it, with each day bringing more and more devastation. And, as the series progresses, with different characters taking the lead role, it all comes back together. A very realistic read, which draws you in and makes you wonder how you would survive if the entire world was literally shifted on its axis.
Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand: There are angels among us, given to divine purposes that they spend their lives trying to determine through visions that come slowly. For Clara Gardner, figuring out her purpose isn’t easy, while trying to live a life of a normal teenager. With that comes competing attention from two boys, Tucker and Christian, both seemingly connected to her purpose. I loved the sweetness of this story, along with the paranormal intrigue and the plot that kept you guessing as to what came next.
- Publishers, Take Note: YA Genre Growing at Faster Rate (goodereader.com)
- The Best 10 Young Adult Books of 2013 (likeakidinabookstore.wordpress.com)
- Awesome Young Adult Books (plotwhisperer.wordpress.com)
Posted on December 24, 2013, in Young Adult Literature and tagged Beautiful Creatures series, Hollywood, Hunger Games, Lauren Oliver, Neal Shusterman, read, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Young Adult, Young-adult fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.