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.