My Top 5 . . . Young Adult books and series

August 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm 19 comments

I’m really behind on my Top 5 lists, and wanted to do this one last week. However, real life got in the way, and here we are. For a couple of these books, I’ve borrowed tiny bits here and there from previous posts.

I read (and listen to) a lot of YA, and was really excited that Ana & Thea over at The Book Smugglers have been doing a YA Appreciation Month. Even better, they have graciously extended an open invitation to get in on the fun! ETA: To check out all the other participating posts, check out this post.

Don’t forget, my other Top 5 lists are located in the sidebar on the right.

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Fragile Eternity by Melissa MarrWicked Lovely (Faery Court) series by Melissa Marr

I love the world Melissa Marr has created, and with each book it becomes more complex and fascinating.

Here is the book description for book 1, Wicked Lovely:

Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.
But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

MM never “writes down” to her YA audience, depicting some really difficult issues (drug abuse, sexual abuse, violence) in a straight forward, never preachy, manner.

I just finished the audiobook of the most recent book in the series, Fragile Eternity. As much as I loved the first book in the series, each subsequent book becomes my favorite. The series just gets better and better.

To read more about this series, check out my Re-read Challenge post for Wicked Lovely or my post, Best Reads of 2008- YA and Mystery edition.

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SpecialsUglies series by Scott Westerfeld

This has been a great series, exploring issues like beauty, personal choice, and freedom in a fast-paced adventure.

Here is the book description for book 1, Uglies:

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

This is one of those stories where I found myself thinking about Tally and the series during the day, when I wasn’t listening to the audiobook. It really stayed with me. What I like is that Tally isn’t really a heroic type. She’s just a girl caught in crazy circumstances. She doesn’t always make the best choices, but I love how over the course of the series she learns from her experiences and matures.

The audio production was excellent. Narrator Carine Montbertrand does a great job as the youthful characters.

According to an August 6, 2009 post on the author’s blog, Simon and Schuster is offering a free pdf version of Uglies, the first book in this series. Grab it while you can! Included in the ebook is the first chapter of Scott Westerfeld’s upcoming release, Leviathan, which will be released October 6, 2009.

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Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’d been hearing about this one for a long time before I got around to listening to the audiobook. It seemed sort of dark, and reminiscent of other “fight to the death” post apocalyptic stories I’ve read or movies I’ve seen. However, I’m so glad I finally did give it a try!

Here is the book description:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

This was such a gripping story. I was at the edge of my seat thought most of it. I enjoyed it so much, I gave it to my guy (who also likes YA lit) to listen to. He also was guessing right up till the end how things would turn out.

I can’t wait for book 2 in the series, Catching Fire, which will be released September 1, 2009.

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The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This book had been on my radar, but when it won the Newberry Medal, I finally got off my butt, and ordered the audio version.

Here is the book description:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family. . . .

This was such a great story for all ages! To me, it really touched me as an “adoption story” which, for obvious reasons, really means a lot. The story was funny in the way that Nightmare Before Christmas is. By the end, I had a lump in my throat with it’s touching sweetness. Great stuff!

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Glass Houses by Rachel Caine The Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine

I read the first 3 in this series in a 3 day binge. This YA series is by the author of the adult Weather Warden series. I actually like Morganville better. The novels are short (they average 250 pages), fast-paced, and absorbing.

Here is the description for book 1 in the series, Glass Houses:

Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Just don’t stay out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero.

When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

There is an “us against the world” feel of this book that I really like. Claire is smart, down to earth and a little bit innocent. Raised in Morganville, Eve is spunky and tough, and has great fashion sense. Shane’s “normal guy” demeanor hides his tragic childhood. Michael’s caring leadership hold their family together.

Each MV book ends on a cliff hanger, and leaves me wanting more. I’m actually trying to hoard the next few books so I can binge again.

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It’s funny, but I guess with regards to YA, I really tend to gravitate toward speculative fiction. I think this is because other more “realistic” stories just don’t really appeal to me. I think there’s more of a sense of having lived through a realistic YA experience. My imagination has more to grab on to with the kinds of stories I do read.

If you want to read more about YA, check out my posts here. There are also lots of books with mini reviews on my Read in 2009 and Read in 2008 pages.

Do you read YA? Why or why not?

If you do, what would be your top 5?

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Entry filed under: Dark Fantasy, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Top 5, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Trust . . . YA post party at The Book Smugglers

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christine  |  August 12, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I love reading YA. The writing is so lively and fresh in this genre, don’t you think? And often way more thought provoking that romance or UF.

    My favorite YA novels right now (I have to say right now because I’m always discovering something I love more… ) are–in no particular order:

    1. the truth about forever by Sarah Dessen
    2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    3. Lament by Maggie Steifvater
    4. The Giver/Gatherer Blue/The Messenger by Lois Lowry
    5. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (even though I haven’t read the last one yet).
    6. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (I have the others, but haven’t gotten to them yet).

    Oops! That’s six.

    Reply
  • 2. nath  |  August 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I’ve heard lots of buzz about the Melissa Marr series, unfortunately for me, it’s about fairies. There’s just something about fairies that doesn’t work for me in most case…

    Uglies sound interesting. I did grab a copy of the pdf file. One day, one day LOL 😛

    Reply
  • 3. Renee  |  August 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Chistine: Ooh, I’ve been wanting to read Lament for ages! Now, her new book, Shiver is also at the top of my YA want list.
    It was really hard to limit it to just 5. If is could include a few more, I’d add Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days (I think you’ve already read it?), Eoin Colfer’s The Supernaturalists, Holly Black’s Tales of Faerie, and Phillip Pulman’s His Dark Materials series.

    nath: Uglies is really thought-provoking, but just be ready: Tally isn’t a comfortable heroine-type! 😉

    Reply
  • 4. Bridget Locke  |  August 12, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Oh, cool! I love YA novels. 🙂

    The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead (awesome!)

    The House of Night series by PC & Kristin Cast

    The Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine

    The Dark Visions series by LJ Smith (she also wrote the Vampire Diaries which were just meh)

    Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. That book was just a trip all over the place. 🙂

    And…I just finished Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I liked it, but it’s not my favorite. Can’t even tell you why.

    Reply
  • 5. Christine  |  August 12, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Renee, I highly recommend Lament. I found it to be a really neat blend of dark fantasy with a sweet romance. Sort of. I enjoyed the author’s style very much. I, too, hope to get to Shiver soon. It’s gotten some excellent and some so-so reviews. I’m still going to find out for myself.

    Nath, my teen has read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield and loved it. I haven’t gotten to them.

    Bridget, I didn’t realize Santa Olivia was YA!? I’ve been admiring that book cover for months and thought it was adult UF. Go figure.

    Reply
  • 6. Renee  |  August 12, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Bridget: Yes, the Vampire Academy books are great! I need to get back to that series.
    Well, if you are willing, I really recommend staying with the Melissa Marr series. Each subsequent book gets better and better!
    Oh, (like Christine) I didn’t realize Santa Olivia was supposed to be YA. I’ve been listening to the audiobook all day. It’s excellent!

    Christine: I’ll definitely be picking up one of MS’s books soon!
    Santa Olivia reads like adult UF. (see my above comment to Bridget about it!)

    Reply
  • 7. orannia  |  August 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Great list Renee! I just adore Melissa Marr’s series. I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read Fragile Eternity…I am worried though about one of the relationships from Wicked Lovely…. *panic*

    As for others….I haven’t done very much YA reading of late 😦 Bad orannia!

    Reply
  • 8. orannia  |  August 12, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    And saying all that, I should just trust Melissa Marr – she is one amazing author!

    Reply
  • 9. Renee  |  August 12, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    orannia: Oh, yes! Trust in MM! 🙂
    Fragile Eternity is awesome. I loved getting so much of Seth’s pov in this one. She really does some amazing things with his character and the storyline of the series.

    Reply
  • 10. Marg  |  August 13, 2009 at 4:56 am

    I just finished reading The Hunger Games yesterday and I LOVED it! In fact The Graveyard Book and The Hunger Games are two of my three 5/5 reads for this year so far!

    Other YA books I have read recently that I have enjoyed – The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

    Reply
  • 11. Mandi  |  August 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I loved Melissa Marr’s series. I am just starting to get into more YA and loving it. I have Kelley Armstrong’s series in my tbr. And I read Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz and thought it was decent.

    I am currently reading Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri and his sister (can’t think of the name at the moment) and it is really good.

    Reply
  • 12. Kay  |  August 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    The Morganville Series is such great work! They have to be listed as my all time favourite YA series. Hope everyone reads them!

    Reply
  • 13. orannia  |  August 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Oh, yes! Trust in MM!

    🙂 I should! I should just move Fragile Eternity to the top of the TBR list and read it!

    Oh, and I also have The Thief on my TBR list!

    Reply
  • 14. Bridget Locke  |  August 13, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Santa Olivia is definitely UF, but it is a young adult (i.e. isn’t older than 19) by end of book. So it’s like UFYA. 🙂

    Reply
  • 15. bookluver  |  August 13, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I love YA books also, my latest favorite is “Rumer & Qix: The Race to Terra Incognita.” I found the book to be imaginative, adventurous, whimsical at times, and a fun, quick read. Love the list of books posted! I am going to definitely check them out.

    Reply
  • 16. orannia  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:38 am

    RENEE! I wasn’t sure if you knew, so I had to race over and tell you:

    *drum roll*

    Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette are writing TWO, yes TWO sequels to A Companion of Wolves! I know I haven’t read it read, but I will…once I’ve devoured Corambis 🙂

    Reply
  • 17. Carolyn Crane (CJ)  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    That is really interesting that you gravitate toward more spec fic for YA. I was just going to say I never read YA, but Santa Olivia is? Because I’m going to read that one. And the Neil Gaimen looks GREAT! Maybe I’ll get it and read it, and then I’ll give it to my 13 year old nephew.

    Also, what age is YA for?

    Reply
  • 18. Renee  |  August 14, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Marg: I can’t wait for Catching Fire, Hunger Games’ sequel! I like that it’s not really on a cliff hanger, but left things with some real interesting directions to go in for the sequel.
    I’ve been meaning to read the Megan Whalen Turner series, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I keep hearing such great things about it. I had some ups and downs with books 1 & 1 of the Mortal Instruments series, but haven’t yet read the last in the trilogy.

    Mandi: I really liked the first in KA’s YA series, and have book 2 on request from the library. I’ve heard mixed things about MD’s series. I haven’t heard of Another Faust. I’ll have to check it out! 🙂

    Kay: Most definitely! 😉

    orannia: Yes! You should! 😀
    I had heard about the sequels. I can’t wait, but on EB’s site it says book 2 is expected out in 2011, so unfortunately, it’s going to be a long one.
    Corambis is on my tbr. I really need to get to it!

    Bridget: I just finished Santa Olivia yesterday. It was sooo good. I’m hoping to have the time to work on a review this weekend. (::crosses fingers::) Yes, it is definitely about Loup’s growing up, and touches on a lot of YA themes, but I guess it’s one of those that appeals to both youth and adults.

    CC/CJ: See above comment to Bridget. 😉 It was excellent. It didn’t have a YA feel.
    My understanding –though I could be wrong — is that there is YA (teen) fiction, and Juvenile fiction, which tends to be 5th gr-to about 12 years old. (I could be a year or 2 off.)
    The Graveyard book, while a little gruesome –I wouldn’t read it to my 6 year old — is more Juvenile, but wouldn’t feel “baby-ish” for a teen because of it’s dark edginess.

    Reply
  • […] Comments Renee on My Top 5 . . . Young Adult boo…Carolyn Crane (CJ) on My Top 5 . . . Young Adult boo…orannia on My Top 5 . . . Young Adult […]

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