Friday, August 10, 2012

Young Adult Literature for All Ages

With NPR releasing The 100-Best Ever Teen Novels list and the runaway success of various teen book franchises, there is no denying teen literature is hot right now. The NPR list features a mix of newcomers and old classics to the young adult genre.

 If you have never ventured into the young adult or high school sections, you may be surprised and even devastated to know how many great books you are missing out on. When I was a teenager I read mostly adult literature. But as an adult I have learned to appreciate the emotionally-charged, creative, and often fast-paced literature available in the teen area. Here are a few that really entertained me far after my teenage years were over.

Are you already a fan of The Hunger Games? Check out Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Set in a dystopian Chicago, the adventure revolves around a female protagonist coming to terms with her role in society. Already set to be adapted to film, this is a great time to read the series before it becomes the next big thing. Another series to check out is Lauren Oliver’s Delirium where love is considered a disease that people are cured from upon turning eighteen.

Do you prefer more realistic tales? There are plenty of teen books being released that do not involve a dystopian society!  An instant classic is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. The story follows a teenager living on a Spokane reservation who decides to try and better himself by traveling outside the reservation to attend an all-white farm school. The book is both bittersweet and surprisingly funny while exploring themes of what it means to be an outsider. Other great, character-driven reads include John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, where the hapless hero analyzes how he has managed to get dumped by nineteen girls named Katherine.  In Nick Burd’s The Vast Fields of Ordinary, the protagonist must come to terms with a rapid series of changes during the summer between high school and college. 

Lastly, for fellow fans of horror who have run out of Stephen King novels to devour, check out Lauren Myracle's Bliss.The novel takes place in the sixties with the protagonist leaving her parent’s hippie commune to enroll at an elite high school where she befriends a girl obsessed with the occult. The book embeds itself in the time period, with numerous references to the Charles Manson case to raise the tension that builds till its cinematic conclusion.

For more suggestions and ideas of what to read, check out Tracy’s Teen Lit Picks on the Staff Picks page. If you are a fan of young adult literature, what is your favorite? Were you surprised by anything that made or did not make the NPR list?


Lynne said...

I loved Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. What's not to love about a fantasy coming-of-age story that gives you the chance to root for the underdog? And if you are, or ever were, "horsey," it's a must-read.

Joanie said...

I agree with Lynne. The Scorpio Races was absolutely one of the best books of 2011. Not finding it on the NPR list was a let down. However, my disappointment was abated by seeing John Green in the list FIVE times! What a great example of an author who writes books for teens that appeal to readers of all ages.

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