5 Favorite Young Adult Books Selected by Author Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong | The Children’s Book Review | August 10, 2018
When asked why I became a writer, I always blame reading. I was the oldest of four kids, and while my parents weren’t voracious readers themselves, they understood the importance of literacy, and my earliest memories are of them reading with me. They say I was reading by the age of three, but I suspect I just memorized the books. That launched a love of reading that, for me, naturally became a desire to tell my own stories. I’ve never lost that love of reading, thankfully, and I honestly believe that to be a writer, you must also be a reader.
I’m thrilled that young adult fiction covers so many genres these days, broadening my smorgasbord of options even more. Below you’ll find a few of my recent recommendations, along with one that helped me decide to write YA myself.
Written by Libba Bray
When this came out, I was considering writing a young adult paranormal for my daughter, who was thirteen at the time and wanting to read my adult books. I’d been ill, and my publisher sent me a box of books to recuperate with (I love my publishers!). This book was in that shipment. I got about a third of the way through before I realized it was a young adult novel. It was so mature and complex and deftly written that I presumed I was reading an adult book. It was my first exposure to “modern” YA fiction, and reading it made up my mind—I wanted to write for this age group.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | 2003 | ISBN: 978-0385730280
Written by Naomi Novik
A former editor sent me this in hopes of a blurb, and I didn’t have time to read it pre-publication. I finally got to it this year, and so I was blown away, I emailed the editor an apology for not reading it sooner. I don’t think it’s marketed as YA, but like many fantasy novels, the main character is a teenager. I could tell you that Uprooted is a mix of Beauty of the Beast and Rapunzel, but that sells it short. I’ll just say it’s a wonderful blend of Eastern European folklore with a unique heroine on a fascinating adventure.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Del Rey | 2016 (Reprint) | ISBN: 978-0804179058
Written by Jason Reynolds
I listened to the audiobook of this, which Reynolds reads himself, and I highly recommend it. Long Way Down is a free-verse novel telling the story of . . . well, an elevator ride down. Fifteen-year-old Will is heading off with a gun and a vow to avenge his brother’s death. As the elevator descends, it stops at each floor to let on a ghost from his past, someone who was affected by the cycle of violence. A riveting and thought-provoking work.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | Oct. 24, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481438254
Written by Elizabeth Wein
I loved Wein’s Code Name Verity and recently picked up this novella prequel. Set in the late 1930s, almost-sixteen-year-old Julia returns for one final summer on her late grandfather’s estate and becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding Scottish river pearls, while trying to clear the names of a local Traveller family. The Pearl Thief is a multilayered mystery with a delightful protagonist, as written by a gifted storyteller with an ear for dialogue and authentic period detail.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | 2018 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-1484723708
Written by Sandhya Menon
Dimple Shah is shocked and delighted when her conservative parents agree to let her attend a summer camp for web programmers. Then she discovers one of her fellow campers is Rishi Patel, the boy her parents have chosen for her future husband. When Dimple Met Rishi is a delightful romance full of witty dialogue, sharp characterization and genuine laugh-out-loud moments. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Simon Pulse | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481478687
I struggled so much to narrow this list down to five that I’m going to slide a sixth recommendation in place of final comments. I’ve read many of Holly Black’s books (love her Curse Workers series—check that out!) but I only recently went back to read her first novel, Tithe. I was not disappointed.
Written by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher’s Synopsis: Secrets don’t remain hidden for long in this thrilling read from a #1 New York Times bestselling author that’s perfect for fans of Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not and Barry Lyga’s Bang.
Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim; he was a shooter.
Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don’t heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend–Skye.
Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can’t resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | May 22, 2018 | ISBN: 978-0399550362
About the Author
Kelley Armstrong is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Otherworld series, as well as the New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy Darkest Powers, the Darkness Rising trilogy, and the Nadia Stafford series. She lives in rural Ontario, Canada.