Tag Archives: teen fiction

21 Favorite Young Adult Books

This is a continuation of the series I’d posted earlier talking about my favorite children’s books. Again, I’ll reiterate some of these books I haven’t read in a long time, but my impressions of them have stuck around, hence why they’re on the list. Hopefully in a bit I’ll have my favorite adult books out too. Also, some obviously are torn between the children’s genre too, it just depends on classification (same with my children’s post). Regardless, here are a few books I liked in the young adult genre in no particular order.

Inkheart  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke– I definitely read these as a kid, but they are perhaps a bit dark for the kids genre. I loved the plot, especially as a writer imagining the possibility of characters coming to life. Great characters, funky magic, and wonderful literary references.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater–  More recent reads that I really enjoyed. I found these more original considering many of the teen fiction books often follow very similar plots.

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1)The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth NixThese are very dark, but I think that’s part of what drew me to them. Definitely a little funky but interesting, and I really liked the hero Arthur for some odd reason, very compelling I suppose. Plus Suzy Turquoise Blue was an awesome sidekick.

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale– It’s funny how so many of these are series, however, this first book remains my favorite. I love twisted fairy tales, especially slightly lesser known ones like Goose Girl. Ani is a fantastic heroine and her powers are so different and yet wonderful!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan– I loved the sarcastic dry humor in Percy’s tone, the modern take on Greek mythology. Of the more “popular” teen fiction series, this is definitely one of my favorites just because I felt it displayed some of the greatest level of creativity.

No Shame, No Fear (No Shame, No Fear #1)The Quaker Trilogy by Anne TurnbullThese books were perfect due to my love of historical fiction, romance, and stories on faith. I loved the forbidden love aspect between Susanna and Will, though this of course felt more real than the usual romantic drivel. Again, my memories are a bit blurry, but as a young teen I know I at least liked the first two books. As I now attend a Quaker college, I’m a bit terrified someone will think my love of these a bit shaming, but I’m not going to allow myself any as I was an impressionable teen at the time.

The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales, #1)The Squire’s Tales by Gerald MorrisI love Arthurian legend, and nothing is better than having classic stories retold from new points of view. The first books begin with the ever lovable Terrence, squire to Sir Gawain and then proceed to cover several other stories from Parsifal’s page, to the brother of Sir Tristan, to a brave and savvy damsel who doesn’t need a knight. They never failed to make me laugh, but they also excited in me a sense of adventure and a continued love for Camelot.

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell– My friends might kill me if I don’t add this, since they believe it’s based on my life. I agree I found many points of Cath’s life to be very relatable, and even cried once or twice. A funny coming of age story that every “fangirl” should read.

BeastlyBeastly by Alex Flinn– Again with the fractured fairy tales. An adorable love story, a clever modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and a fun and easy read. I liked the use of the modern chat-room start to this novel incorporating other fairy tales in as well. It’s one I’ve read twice, because I enjoyed it so much.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1)Alex Rider by Anthony Horrowitz– I was obsessed with these for much of my teen years. I liked the spy stories containing the reluctant yet amazing Alex. These were fast paced and entertaining, though (slight spoiler) I HATED how they ended.

Zach's Lie (Zach's Lie, #1)Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith- I remember I loved the suspense of these books! I think they’re probably one of those that bridge the children’s and young adult area, not really sure where to put it. However, these interesting fast paced books kept me reading til the end.

Gideon the Cutpurse (The Gideon Trilogy, #1)The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer– Time travel novels can be fun if they’re well done. I liked these ones quite a bit since they entered into 18th century England (one of the times and places that most interested me). Thievery and adventure and two times clashing, I thought these were a fun collection of stories. The adventure in these was entertaining, though like with many fiction series, I remember being somewhat disappointed by the end.

Storm CatchersStorm Catchers by Tim Bowler This book is one of those really random one that I believe I remember most of the main details. Since it seems to be so memorable (I think I may have read it more than once), I had to include it here. Great story of mystery and suspense with a touch of surreal (ghosts and divining). It definitely kept me guessing all the way through.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)Warm Bodies by Isaac Morrison– I know what you’re thinking, isn’t there a movie? Yes, but it’s very different from its inspiring novel. This book is dark and odd. I liked the writing and only read it a few years ago, so it’s fresher in my mind. The movie is hilarious, but if you’re looking for a darker zombie story, look here.

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli– I had a book club on this novel once, and I remember we raised some valid points about this book’s value. It has good messages on identity, peer pressure, fitting in, and plenty of others as well. Stargirl herself is a very interesting character.

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner– So in case it isn’t obvious, I like stories with princesses, I like stories about Greek myths, and I like stories about women who are empowered (especially princesses)- and this one on Helen of Troy is fantastic. Definitely takes the “face that launched a thousand ships” and gives her a brand new definition. Such a great read for any fellow myth lovers, especially ones that love tough female role models.

Just One WishJust One Wish by Janette Rallison– This one is cheesy, but bear with me. I loved the cute and quirky romance in this, but also the bravery of the main character in fighting for her little brother who is suffering from cancer. Rallison has some very fun and cute romance novels, but I liked this one for the values beyond just the teen love aspect. Sad and yet heartwarming, it may be cheesy but I loved it as a girl.

Enter Three WitchesEnter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney– Have I mentioned my love of Shakespeare? This fun play on Macbeth takes the story from the point of view of more minor characters such as Fleance, or the author’s creation of Mary (the Macbeth’s ward). The story gave a new perspective to this theater piece, but still maintained some of its classic darkness.

Princess BenPrincess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock– Another empowered princess story. Benevolence may sound like a frilly princess, but she faces some tough challenges and overcomes them quite well. The story was quirky and fun, but also continues to promote female empowerment through the use of some classic fairy tale themes being played with.

How the Hangman Lost His HeartHow the Hangman Lost his Heart by K. M. Grant– This book was ridiculously funny. Again, old London is one of my favorite settings for stories, but this one is different than any I’ve read before. A cute and funny love story with some good action and adventure to go along. I mean what could go wrong with a main character named Dan Skinslicer?

Brief CandleBrief Candle by Kate Pennington– My first introduction to Emily Bronte. I found it funny to read Wuthering Heights this year having read this book as a young person. An intriguing adventure to be sure, and it had a fantastic twist at the end if I remember correctly. Regardless, interesting historical fiction read.

What young adult books do you love? Any good recommendations for me? I’m always looking for more as these are something I still read in my spare time.

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All’s Well That Ends Well…But is it?

Anyone who looks at my Goodreads on the sidebar can see what I finished reading this weekend. That’s right. Divergent. The series. All three books.

I don’t want to give anything away (no spoilers). So I’ll just try to be unspecific and dance around the idea more than any of the details, but still if you’re worried I might ruin something for you then you might want to stay away from this post.

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My roommate had warned me. I suppose I should have known what was coming. She’d tried to be careful about it, but as she said “let me know your reaction when you get to the end” I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Because that meant the ending had to be worth reacting to.

And that scared me.

And it was. It kind of left me in one of those book hazes, where I just sat there staring at the wall for a while trying to process. I had to give up doing any homework and just watch a movie instead. It was that baffling. I certainly couldn’t just go to bed. The truth is that I found the conclusion of this series riveting. I’d been warned by others that I’d hate it like I hated Mockingjay. But it wasn’t the same kind of feeling in the least. Mockingjay I hated because I lost interest. It became a blur of action that didn’t appeal to me in the least. Allegiant I couldn’t stop reading. And for good reason.

It’s certainly not a high work of literature. The writing is fairly poor. However, I found the storyline interesting and found that unlike some trilogies, I didn’t lose interest by the end. With Mockingjay, or with Inheritance (the Eragon cycle’s last book) I found myself skimming to merely find out what happened at the very end simply to know, not because it really interested me all that much. But Allegiant was different. At least for me.

But I think there was confusion in the fact that I was left with such a shocking finish. It made me confused about my overall feelings for the book. But at the same time questioned my own writing skills with ending books. Made me wonder what realy is best in terms of how one wraps up a novel.

If my question on endings wasn’t enough I came to my first literature class to be greeted with the question on the board “Were you satisfied with the ending?” referring to the book we’d just finished for class Jane Eyre. I found myself saying yes, though some classmates seemed less pleased. Again, no spoilers don’t worry.

But it continues to make me ponder how a writer goes about ending a novel, or even worse a trilogy/series. It’s a challenging business. On the one hand, ending tragically might make it seem more complex and worthy of study (as many books in the cannon are), but at the same time may anger or upset readers. A happy ending can be nice, but also may seem a bit too cliche and, of course, predicable.

The End

My roommate hit the nail on the head in some ways in my opinion. A good ending is worth reacting to. That can be in either a positive or negative manner. But books that I’ve read in the past where it’s just been a skim for the facts aren’t worth it at all. Books like Jane where I put it down feeling thoroughly satisfied, or books like Allegiant that leave me pondering, those are the worthy endings in my mind. And while both are very different, I think they both managed to maintain an element of unpredictability and surprise in how events came together.

But it’s a challenge that any author knows. Loose ends should probably be tied up. Feelings have to be dealt with. Even if going for tragic, authors might like to pull in a small bit of hope (or not depending). As readers and viewers we witness all too often the fault of stories that can’t quite seem to figure out where to end. While I love Lord of the Rings, can we all agree the movie had five different parts that seemed like the end and weren’t?

It’s perhaps the greatest struggle of a writer, the greatest woe of a reader, and the dread we both share in common. Putting characters to rest, saying goodbye to old familiar places, moving on, wrapping up, ensuring that there is no suspicion for further books (because don’t we all hate books that end that seem like they should have sequels or epilogues or something more!). And finally and most importantly figuring out what exactly the book is going to leave us with.

Feedback time: What do you like in your endings? Are you a happy ending book lover? Do you prefer books that make you think? Is there an ideal combination of both? What other elements do you think are important? List a few favorite book endings (add spoiler warnings if need be!). I always am glad to hear from my readers.

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