Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Favorite Young Adult Novels

Random Ramblings topic this week for Top Ten Picks is Young Adult Novels.

Life As We Knew It (2006) by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I find myself reading this one again and again. Which means I've written multiple reviews through the years. Here's my first review from the fall of 2006.

Imagine waking up one day to find that everything had changed practically over night. All over the world massive destruction due to one natural disaster after another. And what if there was no way to turn back the clock. To wake up knowing that each day will be worse than the one before. No electricity. No phone service. No gas or oil. Limited food supplies. What is there left to hope for? How would you live your last days?

Meet Miranda your personal guide through this terrifying adventure.
Miranda's story continues in This World We Live In.

The Book Thief (2006) by Markus Zusak. I've read this one twice and listened to it on audio book. (I definitely think this is one of the BEST audio books ever.) Death never sounded so good! This book is wonderful. I'm not saying it doesn't have its difficult moments. But there's something incredibly beautiful--though haunting--about this novel set in Nazi Germany.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999). This one was my first 'real' YA book. I read it in college, and it is one of many reasons why I do what I do. It led me to take all sorts of classes and to eventually get my degree in library science.
Meet Melinda. A ninth grader, a freshman. Maybe her experiences will remind you of your own high school days. Maybe not. But whether you were popular or among the outcasts, Speak has something vital to offer readers. Her story is powerful, yet not without humor.
The Truth About Forever (2006) by Sarah Dessen. I love Sarah Dessen. I do. I find her teen romances to be oh-so-magical. And I'd recommend just about anything she writes. How can I choose a favorite? Well, I'm going to go with the one I read first which would be this one, The Truth About Forever. (I think Dessen is just like that. I think you stay loyal to whichever one you read first. Though I think most fans love them all.)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005) I've read this series a couple of times.
Uglies is a fast-paced novel taking a typical YA topic--self esteem, conformity, and the perception of beauty--and treating it in a new and ultimately satisfying way by speculating about where current values of beauty and perfection might lead us as a society if taken to the extreme. By setting Uglies in the future instead of a contemporary high school, Westerfeld is able to provide reflection and commentary on a serious topic in a new and original way.
I really love Elizabeth Scott. I really have loved all of her books: The Unwritten Rule, Love You Hate You Miss You, Something Maybe, Living Dead Girl, Stealing Heaven, Perfect You, and Bloom. Each has its place. And I'd definitely recommend all of them. But if I had to pick just one, I'd pick Bloom (2007). Why? It's the first one I read. And it just made me really happy, almost giddy.

The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness (2009). It's almost impossible for a new book to go straight to my top ten list. (Not this top ten list, but, you know the list. The list that you keep in your head of your favorite-books-of-all-time.) But this one did. Which was unexpected and wonderful. I wasn't a fan of the first novel in the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, yet I was willing to give the second one a try. This one restored my faith in reading. I've never had that kind of experience with a book.
Everything is so very complex. Not in an overwhelming this-is-so-over-my-head way, not in an I-need-to-go-get-the-dictionary-way but in a wow, I didn't know it was even possible for writers to be so brilliant way.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (2009) I just loved this book. Loved it. I loved Marcelo's voice. I loved his observations. I loved his interactions, his conversations. I loved that his special interest was God, religion. I loved his intelligence; his way of digesting the world and discerning for himself right from wrong. I loved his strength, his character. Here is a man with heart and soul, with substance. I loved that this is a complex novel and a beautiful one.

Rash by Pete Hautman (2006). This one may seem like a strange choice. It isn't super-popular like Looking for Alaska by John Green. And I do only have two books left, BUT the truth is that I love, love, love this book. And it is a book that I think has gone neglected too long. It's one of the few books that took more than one post to praise. Words can't begin to describe how much I love this one. How much I wish people would pick this one up to read it. It's an intriguing novel with a great premise. It's funny. It's a book that is just-right. Set roughly in the 2070s, Rash provides readers with a clever and imaginative look at the future. Opening, in my opinion, with one of the greatest first lines I've ever read:
"Gramps, who was born in 1990, once told me that when he was my age the only way to wind up in prison in the USSA (back when it had only one S) was to steal something, kill somebody, or use illegal drugs" (3).
But times have changed quite a lot since then as our hero Bo Marsten finds out. But the lessons Bo learns about life, friendship, pizza, and football--which is also illegal by the way--open up his eyes to a whole new world.

Shannon Hale. She's one of those authors that is oh-so-easy to love. I am choosing Goose Girl (2003) simply because it is the first Hale novel that I read. And. Because it is the start of a great series. I have two posts about this one because I just couldn't stop talking about it. I have read and loved almost all her novels. There is only one that I haven't read yet. So I can't honestly say that I've loved all her books. Hale writes in the oh-so-delicious genre (or sub-genre) of fairy tale (or fairy-tale-like) novelizations.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Janssen 11:50 AM  

We have a lot of crossover, so I need to read the ones on this list that I haven't read.

Amanda 12:03 PM  

Love your list! I haven't gotten to The Ask and the Answer yet, but seeing it on here reminded me to order it!

Lenore 12:14 PM  

Speak, The Book Thief and Uglies are also in my top 10. The Ask and the Answer is in my top 20.

Emily 12:17 PM  

I love Shannon Hale's work too. Oh how I loved Goose Girl! Life as We Knew It is also in my top 10. It's so fantastically written. I just finished the sequel this week.

Emidy 4:54 PM  

Fantastic list! In fact, I'm going to reserve some of those from the library right now.

Suko 8:39 PM  

Becky, I think you'd also like I Am the Messengerby Markus Zusak. It's such a great book!

Kate Coombs 11:34 PM  

What an excellent list, Becky! I'm off to look for Rash...

Katie 8:59 AM  

So many fabulous choices!! Sarah Dessen is one of my all-time favorite YA authors. I recently read The Knife of Never Letting Go and now I can't wait to get my hands on The Ask and the Answer. Thanks for the recommendations!

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) 9:56 AM  

What an interesting list and most I've never heard of but will be added to my TBR mountain for sure.
I love Shannon Hale's books and I have Life As We Knew on my list too-- that is one book I'll never forget. I gave Uglies a brief mention as well-- I have a hard time limiting to ten. ;o)

Melissa 10:21 AM  

Great list. I really should read the two or three I haven't... :-D

Kim, Too 2:55 PM  

Your post makes me want to read several of these books. I'll be following you on Google Reader.

Jillian 11:21 PM  

Yay, I'm happy to know I read all of these novels on your list! And I have to say, I really enjoyed them all. I especially loved Goose Girl and The Truth About Forever!
Gosh, I just love way too many YA books it was so difficult for me to choose just 10!
Glad to have you participating this week again, Becky!

Jillian 10:04 AM  

Hi! Top10Picks:Young Adults' Mr. Linky had a bit of a technical problem and erased all our links!! :/ If you don't mind linking again, please do so over here. Thanks sooo much and sorry for the trouble.

Heather 6:50 AM  

I'm embarrassed to say I've never even heard of any of the books on your list except The Book Thief. I've really got to start reading some more YA fiction!

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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I am not a fan of:

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  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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