Best Young Adult Books: Top Picks from YA Bloggers in the Know, #1
We were excited to read the recent debate over “The Power of Young Adult Fiction” in The New York Times. Together, the contributors pose the question: why should we be reading YA novels and why do they matter? To better explain why YA fiction has become such a phenomenon, even with adults, we’ve asked some of the best YA bloggers around to weigh in with their picks for the best new titles. Could they convince you to read YA? We think they’re up for the challenge! In our first monthly installment of Best Young Adult Books, we’ve asked Andrea Chapman of Reading Lark to share her spring and summer must reads.
Andrea Chapman: There are so many books coming out this spring and summer that I am excited about, but I am narrowing down the list to the top 5 that I think all fans of YA should put on their “To Be Read” lists.
I am a little late joining the party, but book one in this series, Divergent, is taking the world (and twitter) by storm. This is the first dystopian series since The Hunger Games to catch my eye. I am not typically a big fan of books within this realm, but after having so many friends recommend this one I had to give in. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers when the next book is not set to release for a lengthy period of time so I will be reading Divergent right before the release of Insurgent on May 1st.
In Veronica Roth’s creation, citizens choose a faction to spend the rest of their lives serving. The idea of choosing one path for your life at such a young age is intriguing. Each of the factions stands for different beliefs and serves varying functions for the society. Dystopian novels have carved out an interesting niche in the YA market. They can inspire and teach lessons that other YA novels can’t.
Ages 14-17 | Publisher: HarperCollins | May 1, 2012
I am a self-proclaimed paranormal junkie so it’s no surprise that I would have a werewolf book on this list. Before the eye rolls begin, hear me out. This is not your typical werewolf book. Imagine that a werewolf novel and a murder mystery joined forces to create a story that combined the best of both in a highly addictive manner. The werewolf lore in this one is standard fare, but the additional mystery elements allow the novel to shine. It’s an impressive debut novel and one that sets a strong precedent for the remaining books in the trilogy.
Ages 14 and up | Publisher: HarperCollins | May 8, 2012
I am so excited to get this one in my hands. I love Courtney Summers’ writing—you should check out her stuff if you haven’t already—but this is something new and different for her. Typically Summers writes realistic fiction and calls attention to some pretty tough issues. However, this book leans more toward the dystopian or science fiction genre. From what I can gather from the description, it’s a zombie book. I know there have been a lot of those lately, but if this one is anything like the previous novels Summers has written you can expect a solid, well placed plot and flawed characters who win over your heart. I also love stories in which characters have to find the strength within themselves to survive against all odds.
Ages 13-17 | Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | June 19, 2012
Historical Fiction is another genre that I love. I have a great deal of respect for Patricia McCormick. She often tackles difficult subject matter and brings it to life in poignant ways. This novel focuses on the experience of a young boy living in Cambodia during the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. Many teens (and adults) know nothing about the Khmer Rouge and The Killing Fields. I am thankful that McCormick decided to bring this event alive in YA fiction for a new generation to learn from the horrific experiences of the past. The story behind this novel was inspired by a true story which makes it even more powerful. Readers should be cautioned that this will not be a light-hearted, fluffy read. It will be very intense and emotional.
Ages 14 and up | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | May 8, 2012
Morgan Matson’s debut novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, stole my heart. I cannot wait to read this one. Matson has an interesting writing style that captures the reader’s interest from the first sentence. This novel is one that centers around family and love. The main character, Taylor, is dealing with the fact that her father is dying from pancreatic cancer. Her family decides to spend his last months together in the Pocono Mountains. I am drawn to this novel because of Matson’s writing and because it speaks to me on a personal level. Loss and death are something we must all deal with during our life. I always find solace during these times in fiction.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers | May 8, 2012
I just noticed after rereading my selections that all of them are kind of depressing. I suppose that isn’t truly the feel that spring and summer conjure for most people. I almost changed some of my picks to reflect something that had more of a fun or flirty feel to it, but I felt it was important to stay true to the books I am most excited about. I typically need more than just a summer fling to keep me turning the pages.
Andrea Chapman is the founder of Reading Lark, a book blog that specializes in YA and Adult fiction. Her day job involves teaching English and History to 8th graders, but she loves her night job as a voracious reader and blogger. Her favorite genres include young adult, urban fantasy, historical fiction, and southern literature. She can be found haunting Starbucks, library stacks, and bookstores. Andrea grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia but currently lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest with her husband, two lovable dogs, and one moody black cat.
Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies The May Queen, Because I Love Her, What I Would Tell Her, and Crush. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Daily Candy, 7×7, Red Tricycle, and San Francisco Book Review. Nicki has been reading to her daughter every day since she was born. For more information, visit: https://nickirichesin.com/.