If you are planning to buy a book for the teenager in your family, here are my top ten choices for young adults who are looking for something outside the Harry Potter/Hunger Games/ Twilight series. I’ve grouped this top ten into themes.
Mystery: Paper Towns – John Green/ Picture Me Gone – Meg Rosoff
Paper Towns is my first John Green pick and he is a firm YA favourite. Paper Towns is the story of Quentin ,who has been in love with his next door neighbour, the very popular Margo since he was small. When Margo goes missing she leaves him a set of clues to find her whereabouts. Paper Towns is the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Picture Me Gone is the story of Mila, who is on a road-trip with her father to find his best friend who has gone missing leaving his wife, new baby and beloved dog behind. This book is a finalist in the National Book Awards this year and will keep the reader griped until the end.
Coming of Age: The Fault in Our Stars/ Looking for Alaska – John Green/ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Entertainment Weekly recently undertook the monumental task of finding the best YA book ever. Won by Harry Potter, The Fault in the Stars came in second and rightly so. This is a brilliant story of Hazel who is dying of cancer. She attends a cancer support group and is biding her time until a new arrival changes everything. Expect tear stained faces around the Stephen’s day dinner table.
Looking for Alaska is about teenager Miles, who collects famous last words. His first term at boarding school find him falling in with a tight bunch of friends and this story tells of the impact of these friendships on his life.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a critically acclaimed story of Christopher, an autistic teenager who is compelled to investigate the death of his neighbours dog.
Fantasy/Fairytale: The Princess Bride- William Goldman/ The Earthsea Series – Ursula Le Guin
The Princess Bride is worth reading even if you’ve seen the movie. The tale of Buttercup and her love for the poor farm boy Wesley. When Wesley leaves to find his fortune only to be kidnapped by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup vows to never love again. However Prince Humperdinck wants her as his wife and so starts a fairytale like no other full of fighting, torture, poison, giants, rodents of unusual size and of course true love.
The Earthsea Series is one to consider if you’re hoping to start someone off on a series of books to keep them reading through 2014. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.
Love: Eleanor and Park/ Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell/ How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
I’m loath to call this group “Romance” because these books are so much more than that. Eleanor and Park was named Goodreads best Young Adult Fiction of 2013 this week, with Fangirl coming in second, so 2013 could be called Rainbow Rowell’s year. Here is an author who writes for both adults and young adults so she needn’t be your guilty pleasure if you are reading these two books at an older age!
Eleanor and Park tells the story of Eleanor who returns to live with her mother and abusive step father after they threw her out of her home a year ago. She is starting in a new school and having problems with the school bus bullies. Life is not going well for her until she ends up sitting beside the cute Asian guy on her trips to and from school. These two star crossed misfits make a life changing impact on each other and with the reader.
Fangirl is about Cath, an introvert who spends all her free time writing fan fiction for a Harry Potter-esque series of books about Simon Snow. She is a fish out of water in her freshman year, living in college dorms and separated for the first time from her identical twin sister. Can she make it on her own?
How I Live Now is the story of Daisy, aged 15 and sent to live with her aunt and cousins in England from America while the world is on the brink of a world war. At first the children are living in a kind of Eden on an idyllic farm with no adults around. But soon the authorities come and split up the boys and the girls. Daisy is separated from Edmond just as their love is burgeoning and they promise each other that they will return to the farm, no matter what.