Friday, June 8, 2007

Why adults should read books for young adults

I was checking my Most Wanted Books by Hook or by Crook list and I realized my top two books for 2007 are both for young adults: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse (oh, Edward... *sigh* oh, Edward... *double sigh*). Hmm... Kiddos, I think it’s time we talk about YA fiction. *g*

I’m not going to discuss what books I think teens should read. That’s just wasting time as I’m no expert and with Trollop’s heathenish ways and barn animal sex fetish, pritti sure we have very few young readers—so there’s no point, is there? No, my agenda is for you—yes YOU, grown ups *snort*—to read YA. (If you like them, perhaps you can then pass the books to your kids? :P)

According to the Young Adult Library Services Association** (YALSA), YA are for readers ages 12-18. This age definition, I believe, is the reason why some folks shy away from reading YA. “Why would I read that? That’s for kids, jeez loiuse.” *roll eyes* HUGE MISTAKE.

Just because it’s YA doesn’t mean it’s “less than” as a literature. That’s like saying there can never be a truly great haiku because haiku is a rule-bound artform. Besides, you’ll be surprised, as boundaries in literature are often flexible and loosely defined. (Take Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as an example; marketed both as YA and adult fiction.)

When it comes to imagination, YA has the BEST. Really, really. They’re even more imaginative than fantasy books written for older readers. Adults dive into kid’s books thinking they’ll get “fluffing” only to find these books aren’t fluffy at all. They actually make you THINK. Not only that! YA usually have more upbeat stories, more resolution compare to the “tidiness” of adult fiction—that’s why YA books are verra, VERRA satisfying.

I hate to drag Harry Potter (I’m a HP nutter, who am I kidding?) but everything goes back to him; he’s blurred the lines. (They say the same thing happened with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings but since I wasn’t born then, I’m sticking with HP! LOL) HP brought many adults into reading YA. Why do you think JKR is blindingly uber rich? She might be a witch but she didn’t magically conjured her galleons. If you have a lick of sense you’d at least try this series. After all, there’s a very good reason why HP is breaking book records, winning awards left, right, top and bottom here till kingdom come!

Now, I know many of our readers love romance. *g* I, for one, tend to get bored without some kinda lovin’ in my books. So I’ve come up with a short list you can start with—not exactly something with exciting lusting for the heroine’s cumquats that will amplify the hero’s future lusciously lustful lurve, olé!—but YA that are muchos better than most of the romance novels I’ve read. Yep, you could bet your bottom doubloon on that! For those of you who enjoy YA fiction, I’d love some recommendations. And yes please for YA romance! :D As for the reluctant YA readers, I’d be happy to give you a list of titles (with the help of our readers) that if you had no idea they were YA, you’d just think they’re truly awesome reads. Seriously, old chap, don’t let the category fool you, and don’t be foolish by saying it’s only for young adults. ;)

**Check out YALSA’s comprehensive booklists. Tons of suggestions from best books to popular to quick picks.


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59 comment(s):

Blogger Polly King said...

I'm not familiar with YA but I've read and loved SM's Twilight and New Moon (thanks to you BBs) and now I've been patiently waiting for Eclipse.

Isn't To Kill A Mockingbird YA fiction? I think it's hard to distinguish YA. Does it mean if the protagonist is young, that means the book is YA? Like TKAM, the main character is young therefore it has become a YA classic?

One thing about YA, it discusses a lot of topics (adolescence, drugs, sex) that parents may not be comfortable talking about. This reminds me of Judy Blume's Forever. It has love, it has sex and the first time I read it, it has subjects that so few books for young readers tackled.

Harlot, I've read Donnelly's Tea Rose and I really loved it. Anyway, I would love to hear more YA recommendations. :)

6/08/2007 03:42:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Harlot, good topic. I love YA! :D

You have already mentioned Stephenie Meyer. I don't think I can express how much I love her books even if I've already contemplated redecorating my room to resemble Bella's and have Alice's hair color and haircut. I'm really hoping Midnight Sun would push through.

Now, for YA recommendations, Scott Westerfield Uglies trilogy.

1 Uglies
2 Pretties
3 Specials

It's about Tally and she lives in this futuristic world where everyone is ugly until the reach the age of 16 (there's a catch though). You have to read the books in order.

I love Libba Bray! I'm looking forward to the third installment, The Sweet Far Thing. I think her books are thoroughly addicting (of course SM is still better).

I think all teens should read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's about Tally who everybody hated because she "ruined" some party. It's about a girl who has been abused and doesn't know how to talk about it. Very emotional book.

Meg Cabot is another favorite of mine. She's an auto buy for me.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine! I couldn't put it down. More imaginative than Cinderella or the movie adaptation, very interesting and funny!

OK this is long already. lol I'll be back later. Harlot, I've yet to read Mackall. I'll try Eva Underground.

6/08/2007 04:16:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Correction: Speak is about a girl named Melinda. I confused her with SW's character!

6/08/2007 04:22:00 PM  

Blogger Comment said...

I would recommend...

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy: the first book is probably the least fun, at least for me. BUT I LOVE THAT SERIES SO MUCH. The worlds it creates and the modernity of it... it's just fantastic. Your fantasies can really get away with you with this one, of other worlds other than this one that are seperated from us by just a little... imagination? I love Pullman's descriptions, his characters grow so much through the trilogy. There're interesting ideas and themes.
1. The Golden Compass(US)/Northern Lights
2. The Subtle Knife
3. The Amber Spyglass

Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series was lovely & fantastic in my opinion! Though it seems I haven't read them all. I am too limited in income to read all that I would wish:
1.A Wizard of Earthsea
2.The Tombs of Atuan
3.The Farthest Shore
5.Tales from Earthsea
6.The Other Wind

Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series was also beyond excellent, although the first book wasn't a great start but the rest are excellent. Favourite is Grey King. The series incorporates a lot of elements including Arthurian legend and celtic myth. It carried me away.
1. Over Sea, Under Stone
2. The Dark Is Rising
3. Greenwitch
4. The Grey King
5. Silver on The Tree is her website, enthusiastic synopses there of each book.

Hm, also... you might like Garth Nix's books if you're looking for a bit of imagination: Sabriel, Lirael then Abhorsen is the series I like, and there're a couple of tiny offshoots of it and possibly sequel(s). Not completely enthusiastic about it but they're novels that stay with you and grab at your imagination, in a good way.

( O Potter, you rotter, what have you done... you're taking my money for book seven and film fun.
Can't wait!
Apologies for the bad rhyme. )

I suppose none of you can tell I particularly like YA fantasy... lol! I think YA particularly shines in fantasy. You often have the heroes in fantasy grow throughout their quests meeting both their dreams and their nightmares, which is an important concept to YAs. Also, its fun to be in a world where you can blow up things with a word!

I second Ella Enchanted (hilarious). Also dear to my heart are Meg Cabot's historicals (Nicola and the Viscount, Victoria and the Rogue) and her All American Girl + its sequel. Problem with Meg Cabot is that every book sounds the same. Its funny and cute and teenage-sounding for a bit, but then it's just... getting old. But it takes ages to get tired of her; I read through her Mediator series and some of her Princess diaries as well.

6/08/2007 04:39:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Does it mean if the protagonist is young, that means the book is YA?

Polly, that's a good question and i have no idea LOL. I mean, that would be a pretty thin definition of YA if it's merely because they have young characters. :/

I suppose it's the same as... well, Shelley's Frankenstein. Should it be under sci-fi? What about JA's Pride and Prejudice? It's basically chic lit.

Compare to others i've only read a handful of YA books but i've read some really good ones. There is a lot going on in YA these days. FABULOUS authors such as Stephenie Meyer are coming out and i personally think it would be such a loss if you miss their wonderful books just because you wouldn't want to touch YA fiction.

6/08/2007 04:53:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

O Potter, you rotter, what have you done... you're taking my money for book seven and film fun

LOL. I like it! :P

Comment and Lily, thanks for the wonderful recs.

I have to ask about this book: Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber. Has anyone read it? Is it good? I blame Edward Cullen!!! Until Eclipse comes out in August (TOO FAR *sniff*) i'm in dire need of a teen vampire who would make my blood sing!

6/08/2007 04:58:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

I agree with Comment about Ursula Le Guin. She is nothing short of fantastic.

I forgot to mention Sarah Dessen. My favorite is This Lullaby. It's funny and touching and there is plenty of romance :D.

6/08/2007 05:09:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I'm not familiar with YA either and besides Stephenie Meyer's books, I don't usually look for YA novels. But I grew up with Anne of Green Gables. That's got to count for something, right? Actually, I reread the series the other month and it reminded me so much of why I love romance novels...

Now, Harry Potter is different. That series is read by 7 to 70 year olds. I wouldn't even call it YA or children's books. I think it definitely opened a lot of doors.

6/08/2007 06:24:00 PM  

Anonymous Lindsey said...

"I think all teens should read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson"

Yes, very well-written book. I think adults should read it too. There is something very powerful about this YA novel that chronicles a girl who survives and regains her self. Even adults find it difficult to overcome their own demons.

I should mention TARGET by Kathleen Johnson. It tackles the same issues in SPEAK, except the main character is a boy. Very provocative, especially when you think that most little boys don't believe that rape can happen to men.

"that would be a pretty thin definition of YA if it's merely because they have young characters"

There never used to be a YA category. It's either children or adult books. I believe librarians were the ones who made the category because it's hard to categorize books that were not exactly for kids but not too mature either.

Personally, I think YA is mostly for marketing use. There YA books with themes such as addiction, eating disorder, incest, teen gang rape that publishers won't touch if they're targeted for adults. Adult fiction can't be marketed for younger readers, but YA can be marketed up.

6/08/2007 07:04:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Major Crush by Jennifer Echols! It's a band geek story but oh, what a fun book! Great characters, fast paced, fresh dialogue and lots of humor. I really liked it. And that hand scene... oh wow...


6/08/2007 07:49:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

About defining YA, I think the reality is that YA books could be easily published as adult fiction.

I looked around that YALSA booklist and I was surprised to see books such as Anne Patchett's TRUTH AND BEAUTY and Jodi Picoult's MY SISTER'S KEEPER to be considered as YA.

I recently read Marcus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF. I really liked it and I just found out that it's actually YA. Not that I would have liked it less if I knew before reading that it was YA. I have yet to read the best YA could offer (I'm glad for the recommendations, thanks ladies!) but I agree with Harlot that just because it's YA, it doesn't mean it's less of a literature than adult books. Many of these YA books are very much in the same league and able to achieve and even surpass (look at HP) books that are specifically for adults.

6/08/2007 08:05:00 PM  

Blogger Mailyn said...

I read A LOT of Y/A books as they can be just as much fun as adult books. I usually read fantasy but also their paranormals and historicals. When a write is good he is good regardless of the genre. ^__^

6/08/2007 08:14:00 PM  

Anonymous Betsy said...

As an 8th grade teacher, I also read many YA books. I find my students appreciate a recommendation from someone who has read the books.
Alex Rider series is awesome (geared more towards boys)
Uglies series by Westerfeld,
all of the Lois Lowry Giver books, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is great....
Oh, there are so many!

6/08/2007 08:50:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Danielle, MAJOR CRUSH is something I would like. Thanks! :D

I would love some YA paranormal and historical recommendations. Or something that may be compared with TWILIGHT. :)

6/08/2007 09:05:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

I have the same question as Polly: how does one decide if a book is adult or YA fiction? Because the reason that they are about teens is plenty confusing. Many "grown up" books are about teens too.

6/08/2007 09:10:00 PM  

Blogger said...

Firstly, I love this topic. :)

Does it mean if the protagonist is young, that means the book is YA?

Not necessarily. I've seen a few books centred on adults in the YA section -- LM Montgomery's "The Blue Castle", for example.

I think the definition of YA is pretty open. It seems to me it's more about the overall tone of the book - that it's geared toward younger readers (the very good ones have themes that teens and adults can relate to, IMO) - and not so much the age of the characters. But I tend to play fast and loose with genre definitions because I find them to be rather arbitrary and limiting and not always a good thing, especially when they cause someone not to pick up a book.

One other thing I like about the YA designation is that it's not genre specific (aside from the age thing); although it does look like bookstores here in North America are starting to designate genres within the YA section (scifi/fantasy vs everything else). Unless they've always done that and I just never noticed. LOL.

As for my YA recs, if you liked Anderson's "Speak", I'd also recommend Sarah Dessen's "Just Listen" (I also like how the titles complement each other; they have similar themes, but are otherwise unrelated). I like Dessen's other books, too.

I love Robin McKinley -- who, by the way, does not classify her books as YA (and probably wouldn't like that they were called that), though most of them are shelved in that section. She's one who IMO should be far more famous than she is. Love all her books. And she's coming out with a new one this September!! called "Dragonhaven", for which I am far too excited.

I second the suggestion of Scott Westerfeld. I liked "Peeps", "The Last Days" and "So Yesterday". I have the Uglies trilogy on my TBR pile.

I also highly recommend Jennifer Echols' "Major Crush". It's a teenage romance story, with quite a lot of depth to it.

Carol Plum-Ucci is another author I like, though her books are a little more paranormal/mystery than romance.

O.R. Melling is an Irish-Canadian author who I think writes fairly well. All of her stories, except "My Blue Country" (which is out of print), have a fantasy element - Irish mythology, usually - and a strong romantic theme, too. Her "Faerie Chronicles" is being reissued here; I recommend reading them. The first one is "The Hunter's Moon", followed by "The Summer King", "The Light-Bearer's Daughter" and "The Book of Dreams".

I tried Libba Bray's "A Great and Terrible Beauty" and have been stuck on page 20 for some time. I think it's the present tense that's the issue for me -- although it wasn't at all a problem in Donnelly's "A Northern Light". I think I may have to try this one again later.

Some old favourites:
-Madeleine L'Engle's Chronos and Kronos serieses
-"The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare
-"The Perilous Gard" by Elizabeth Marie Pope
-"The Keeping Days" (series) by Norma Johnston
-"My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara (the movie, which I refuse to see, cannot possibly do it justice)
-"The Secret Garden" and "A Little Princess" by Francis Hodgson Burnett

6/08/2007 09:20:00 PM  

Blogger said...

Now, Harry Potter is different. That series is read by 7 to 70 year olds. I wouldn't even call it YA or children's books. I think it definitely opened a lot of doors.

I have a love/hate feeling for the HP series for that very reason. I love that it gets people to read and I love that it has something for people of all ages, but I don't like how it gets singled out as something greater or more than what the rest of the children's/YA books have to offer. To mangle Joss Whedon's words, HP shouldn't be noted as something that transcends the genre, it should be the genre. If YA is even a genre to begin with. (Whedon was talking about "Serenity", but I think it applies to nearly anything that shows what genre is about.)

And, this, partly, I think is why Robin McKinley doesn't like her books are categorized as YA -- or, rather, she dislikes when people say "I read your books even though I'm [over the age of 18]." Because her books were never meant to be written for an only-under-18 audience, but for anyone who can relate to her characters. I find her writing holds up remarkably well, considering I started reading her when I was 10. She's one of the authors who, IMO, has layers in her books that allow for multiple re-readings and for people of all ages to fall in love with them.

I think it must be frustrating for a writer to hear that their books aren't being read because of where they're being shelved.

I think Lois McMaster Bujold (whose books - especially the Vorkosigan series - I highly recommend) said it best: "Genre is actually a recent invention, stemming from the period when there began to be too many books published for any one or even small group of people to read them all. There had to be some way of pre-sorting them. I find genre labels helpful when they guide readers to books, hurtful when they push them away. Genre is good as a door but bad as a wall, in other words — but since that wall really only exists in people’s minds, it never hurts to coax folks to be more adventurous." (

6/08/2007 09:38:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Robin McKinley books aren't classified as YA?? You have got to be kidding!

Okay, i don't know anything. :S Well, i already stated i'm no YA expert. Though yep, i've read good ones! Mostly, thanks to Dance. :D

Any YA paranormal recs? :)

I've never heard of Major Crush but it sounds really good. I'll be getting that one. :D

I second the rec of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It's an old fave of mine too. Love love loooove it! Also, Mara Daughter of the Nile! Sheftu, oh my!

My sister is crazy about Patterson's Maximum Ride books. I've yet to read the series, but oh god, she just won't shut up about it! Must be good i suppose. :/

6/08/2007 09:49:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

To mangle Joss Whedon's words, HP shouldn't be noted as something that transcends the genre, it should be the genre.

Well, i can't say anything bad about Harry. :P Though, i have to agree.

Speaking of Joss, OT, i'm sure you've read what he wrote about Dua Khalil and women in general, LOVED it.

For those of you who don't know what i'm talking about, you shouldn't miss this: "Let's Watch a Girl Get Beaten to Death"

6/08/2007 10:01:00 PM  

Blogger Polly King said...

My, good discussion. :) I love Robin McKinley too. I didn't know that she didn't like her books categorized as YA. Her books are listed under YA.

I really like The Hero and the Crown. The Blue Sword, too. Her females kick ass and her princes are yummy. I don't think they're romance but most of her books are very romantic.

Harlot, you must read Sunshine!

6/08/2007 10:12:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Betsy, I like some of Anthony Horowitz's books. There is also Prep by Sittenfeld.

Dance, good suggestions!

6/08/2007 10:22:00 PM  

Anonymous ~Cassie~ said...

Oh my gosh, I love YA, too!

I love Jean Ferris. (Harlot, how are you liking "Once Upon A Marigold"?) My favourite is "Into The Wild". It's historical with romance and pirates.

I also love McKinley. "Secret Garden" "Little Women" ... Who else... Nancy Drew! You know I always wanted Nancy and Frank Hardy to get it on lol but that stupid stupid Ned always got in their way! ... I never liked the SVH books. I second "Mara Daughter Of The Nile"!

6/08/2007 10:42:00 PM  

Blogger Mailyn said...

Sure thing Harlot!

Martine Leavitt
-Keturah and Lord Death [very romantic!]

Holly Black
-Ironside [continuation to Tithe]
-Valiant [in the same "universe" as the other two

-The entire chronicles of faerie

Brandon Mull

Herbie Brenan
-all the Faerie Wars books

Angie Sage
-the Septimus Heap books [loved my many HP fans]

Obert Skye
-Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

Dennis McKiernan
-Once Upon a Winter's Night [I consider it Y/A]

Alison Croggon
-The Naming and the second book which I forget the name lol

Garth Nix
-the Abhorsen trilogy
-the Keys to the Kingdom books

Christopher Paolini
-Eragon [way better than the crappy movie]

John Flanagan
-Ranger's Apprentice series

Philip Pullmam
-His Dark Materials trilogy

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

6/08/2007 10:46:00 PM  

Blogger me. said...

I love the Phillip Pullman Dark Materials trilogy. very awesome, I also heard they were making a ?movie? we can only keep our fingers crossed.

I frequently read YA books, I get them for my son and wind up sharing them with him.

6/08/2007 10:52:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Hullo Me.
Okay that sounds loony LOL. Anyway, welcome and yep, they're making the Dark Material books into a movie trilogy. I've yet to read the books but Daniel Craig will be in the film. ;) (Stardust has a movie too, YAY!)

Oh wow, thanks gorgeous! I've been contemplating of getting those Holly Black books since i saw them side by side with New Moon :P but didn't know anyone who've read them.

I really liked Once Upon a Marigold (you know i got it for only $2 :P). I thought it's very funny and sooo adorable really. It's my first Jean Ferris book. I'll try to get Into the Wild.

I still don't know what makes a book YA without checking them on the list LOL but Dance's explanation is pritti good. Anyway, however books are categorized, it's all about the writing anyway.

6/08/2007 11:33:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Lily, I forgot, I've yet to read Nancy Drew. :P And Polly, i just got Sunshine (that is, if you're talking about McKinley). My UBS got it for me. :D

6/08/2007 11:41:00 PM  

Anonymous --E said...

RE: Robin McKinley doesn't like her books are categorized as YA -- or, rather, she dislikes when people say "I read your books even though I'm [over the age of 18]." Because her books were never meant to be written for an only-under-18 audience, but for anyone who can relate to her characters.

I have utmost respect for Ms. McKinley and her work and I have to say I agree with her opinion. Dismissing YA as "fluffy" is as wrong as assuming that YA authors are writing YA fiction as sort of preparation until they can move onto "real" novels.

Betsy suggested "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. I second that. It's marketed as children's fiction but this is a novel with deep themes that makes you look at the world around you with new eyes. "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson is a good example of an excellent YA book. That and "Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky (which is marketed to adults in some countries) are the best examples of a writer capturing "YA voice", in my opinion. And this leads me to what I think is the definition of YA literature.

YA is about a young adult or speaks to the young adult experience. Yes "To Kill A Mockingbird" is about a very young protagonist, but the experiences that Scout goes through speak to young adults and that is why it has become a YA classic. Merely writing about a young adult doesn't mean you're writing a YA novel either. There is a subtlety and conscientiousness to good young adult writing.

Finally, confusion about what age ranges constitute "young adult" isn't surprising. There are so many theories running around that it's wide open to debate. Some believe that it is ages 12-18, but others believe that if you look at young adulthood as the time between puberty and adulthood (or when your brain has finished growing) then the age range jumps from 10 year olds all the way to 25 year olds since scientists have begun to think that your hormones are still pretty actively changing your body and mind until then.

6/09/2007 12:12:00 AM  

Blogger Polly King said...

Harlot, yes of course McKinley. It has some similarities with Charlaine Harris' Sookie books. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that RM decides to make it a series.

6/09/2007 12:38:00 AM  

Anonymous Lindsey said...

I like O.R. Melling, too. She's really good. I love her faerie chronicles :)

6/09/2007 01:01:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Some of my favorite books ever are YA (I think LOL).

Anne of Green Gables (one of my absolute fave book ever).

Tom Sawyer

Great Expectations (though, is this YA?)

Harry Potter (obviously)


Used to LOVE Sweet Valley twins/high and Babysitters club.

Mmmm.... have tons more but will be back. Thesis awaits AGAIN.

6/09/2007 05:05:00 AM  

Blogger Comment said...

The problem with Horowitz (Alex Rider series) is that the book's over in 5 minutes. They're fun, but it's too easy to read! You could probably get through the whole series in one day. That said, I loved this young spy.

I read through every Anne of Green Gables book there was in my school library. Another series in that sort of vein was the Pollyanna series. Some people might find her relentless cheer in the face of adversity annoying (even I might, if I reread it) but I loved her and the next books a lot.

From the recs, I think I'm going to pick up Westerfelds series, Meyers novel(s) and the Speak novel. Was planning to pick up some McKinleys anyway!

Glad you liked my rhyme, harlot...!

6/09/2007 08:20:00 AM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Oohhhh I love Stephenie Meyer. TWILIGHT, NEW MOON... it was so sweet! And now I'm longing, dying for ECLIPSE.

Based from the recs, I'm going to order something from Robin McKinley. So which of her books is the most romantic? :)

6/09/2007 10:04:00 AM  

Anonymous malicious strumpet said...

And here, I thought I was odd for hanging out in the YA section of the local bookstores. I loooove YA. A couple of my favorite YA reads that I haven't seen mentioned here yet:

East by Edith Pattou (based on the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon")

The Claidi Journals (Wolf Tower, Wolf Star, Wolf Queen, Wolf Wing) by Tanith Lee

I also love some of the 'better known' YA fiction - HP of course, Chrstopher Paolini, Phillip Pullman, Madeliene L'Engle, Ursula Le Guin.

Great topic - I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one!


6/09/2007 10:27:00 AM  

Blogger said...


Based from the recs, I'm going to order something from Robin McKinley. So which of her books is the most romantic?

"The Blue Sword" or "Beauty", IMO, or "The Outlaws of Sherwood" (the secondary romance in that one almost eclipses Robin/Marian). But all her books have a pretty strong romantic element to them. These three, though, are probably the most straightforward of hers in terms of the storytelling style and romance, and where I'd start with McKinley.

Her other books tend to be a little more layered, complicated and ambiguous over certain things. I think this is seen pretty clear with her two Beauty and the Beast stories, "Beauty" and "Rose Daughter".

I love all her books, so I'm hardly objective, but, to me, "Rose Daughter" is maybe the more grown up version of B&B; it also strays from the more commonly known version of the fairytale. While "Beauty" is a little simpler, though still a great story, IMO. (And I think Disney owes McKinley at least a nod, but that's neither here nor there. ;) )

I think with one like Deerskin you have to be able to trust that you know what the author is doing -- although I know some people who started with that one and loved it.

polly king,

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that RM decides to make it a series.

I think that's about as likely as a Serenity sequel, which is to say, rather unlikely. She keeps saying it's not up to her, but the "Story Council" from where she gets her stories. I've been waiting for another Damar book -- and the last one was published in 1985. ;)


YA is about a young adult or speaks to the young adult experience. Yes "To Kill A Mockingbird" is about a very young protagonist, but the experiences that Scout goes through speak to young adults and that is why it has become a YA classic. Merely writing about a young adult doesn't mean you're writing a YA novel either. There is a subtlety and conscientiousness to good young adult writing.

Yes, I think you've expressed what YA is - or should be - beautifully. It's not just about the age of the characters, but what they're going through. I find, when I'm reading, that one of the worst things an author can do is "talk down" to his or her (intended, presumably) audience because their target range is YA. Perhaps this is why I like McKinley so much -- because she doesn't write for teens, she writes for people.

I think Stephenie Meyer has also said she never wrote Twilight for a YA-specific audience, and maybe that's why hers is another series that adults also seem to like. I don't know if it's the same of Rowling, but her books are a prime example that YA aren't just for those who identify themselves as YA or get past the idea that one has to be YA in order to read YA.


Robin McKinley books aren't classified as YA?? You have got to be kidding!

Sorry, I don't think I was very clear... McKinley herself doesn't classify her books as YA, but publishers and bookstores seem to. :)

Actually, I tend to find her books all over the place -- "Beauty" in the Children's Section, "Spindle's End", "The Blue Sword" and "The Hero and the Crown" in the YA, "Deerskin" and "The Outlaws of Sherwood" in Scifi/Fantasy, "Sunshine" in horror...

Speaking of Joss, OT, i'm sure you've read what he wrote about Dua Khalil and women in general, LOVED it.

Yes. Joss is awesome, no?

Have you seen Nathan Fillion's supersecret London thing? It's a little bit connected to what Joss was saying and what he has been saying with Equality Now, but more geared towards men, I think, redefining what it means to be a "man".

6/09/2007 01:29:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool. I haven't read alot of these authors .. I have tended towards more of the classics too. But I'm going to a big book fair soon, so I'll keep an eye out for some of the recommendations and give them a whirl.

6/09/2007 11:01:00 PM  

Blogger Rylie :0) said...

every once in a while i seem to make my way over to this blog, and i think you girls are wonderful for putting together something like this, because i'm a girl who loves my reading and my pictures of damn hot men... and because you mentioned Stephanie Meyer in your last post i went out and bought Twilight today, hopefully it's as amazing as it sounds

6/09/2007 11:06:00 PM  

Blogger Vanessa said...

I admit I rarely read YA today (except for Harry) but I grew up reading a lot of them. No one has mentioned Beverly Cleary. I liked her book Fifteen. L.M. Montgomery, Madeleine L'Engle... :)

6/09/2007 11:26:00 PM  

Blogger Vanessa said...

I wouldn't have discovered Stephenie Meyer's Twilight if it wasn't for the BBs' pushing, lol. Thank God they did because I really, really, really, really loved it.

6/09/2007 11:29:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Wow, what is that supersecretthingy? A campaign or something. Hmm, a new definition of being a hero...

You have to read SM's Twilight! :D

Ohh, i envy you. To read Twilight for the first time... oh my... Let us know how you like it. ;) Hope you join us often!

It's all thanks to Dance really. She's the one who recommended Stephenie Meyer to us. :D

6/10/2007 12:30:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/10/2007 10:59:00 AM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

I think YA fiction is in a golden age right now. Some of the best YA I've read are being published at the moment! JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Scott Westerfield, Holly Black, Libba Bray... Ever since I discovered Harry Potter and then Twilight, I've been reading a lot of YA and I've been blown away with how amazing YA books are.

It's hard to define YA and that's fine with me. One reason I was attracted to YA is the fact that it is such a wide-open category, in terms of the risks you can take with both content and style. The point is, you don't have to be an old man writing about "important things" to be taken seriously by your readers.

6/10/2007 05:37:00 PM  

Anonymous Colleen said...

What makes young adult books young adult books, well it would be great if mystery books would end up in the mystery section regardless of their age target (keeping in mind that I'm not referring to something aimed at 5 year olds), and the same for westerns, romances, etc. I am hard pressed to understand though how a book like Love, Cajun Style should be young adult and Divine Secrets of the YA YA Sisterhood would be chick lit/adult fiction when they are about the same thing, the only difference is one involves teenage girls and one involves women past twenty. But they are separated by the YA barrier strictly due to protagonist age. And that's something the publisher has decided.

Beyond that, why on earth is Philip Pullman in the YA section? And why isn't Dandelion Wine in the YA section? Bradbury wrote about boys in that book (and Something Wicked This Way Comes) but those titles are Sci Fi (which is also silly but a whole other argument).

Honestly, I don't think that Frankenstein must end up in the Sci Fi section (or Horror for that matter) but if you used the genre definitions that modern authors labor under, then I think that's where her book would go if it was published today. It's about finding the right man - and all struggles therein. Isn't that what chick lit keeps getting bashed for being?

YA books does not strictly contain a teen protagonist. But so often adults read certain books that are YA classified usually due to protagonist age, plain and simple. I think that Mockingbird is a YA book and so do a lot of others. I just see it as more of a coming of age story then, say, His Dark Materials, which deals with much deeper and more intense themes.

6/10/2007 07:23:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

"The Blue Sword" or "Beauty", IMO, or "The Outlaws of Sherwood"

Dance, thanks :) Your info is very helpful. Now, I googled all of them. The heroine in The Blue Sword is named Harry? LOL. Not that that matters because I'm getting that one first. (I'm thankful for all the recommendations I get from this blog. Thanks ladies.)

6/10/2007 09:51:00 PM  

Blogger said...


Yes, Harry. ;) It's a nickname that gets explained in the book. I hope you enjoy it! :)


Wow, what is that supersecretthingy? A campaign or something. Hmm, a new definition of being a hero...

Or a man. ;) It's a small part of a bigger project that Martin Firrell (the artist) is working on. I think it's supposed to be unveiled in a rather prominent London gallery... I don't know very much about it, though. I'm expecting Fillion to blog about it eventually. :D

6/11/2007 12:46:00 AM  

Blogger Di said...

One of the best books I (re-)read this year was The Outsiders by S.E. it because my 5th grader brought it home and was utterly obsessed with it. From the first line I was captured and thrust back to my own adolescence when I read this book over and over and over again!

It is amazing to think that 1) S.E. Hinton is a woman and was published with her initials to disguise that fact; 2) she was 15 when she wrote it and 3) it takes place in the memory had it taking place in NY City or something.

6/11/2007 07:56:00 AM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Everyone seems to love Phillip Pullman and his Dark Materials books. I never liked it... Maybe I should re-read... I'm excited to see what they had done with the movie.

For readers who enjoy the legend of Robin Hood, another YA I like a lot is The Forestwife trilogy by Theresa Tomlinson. :)

6/11/2007 09:46:00 AM  

Blogger said...

I love "The Forestwife" too -- I like the first book best of all; it wasn't until years after I'd read the first one that I found out it was a trilogy. LOL.

I never got Pullman's Dark Materials either. I read the first one because I thought I should, and it was going okay right up until the end, where I had the most negative reaction I've ever had to a book before... I'm not entirely sure why and I don't feel like re-reading to find out. ;) I may watch the movie, though.

"The Outsiders" is fabulous. I like Hinton's other books, too. The first book of hers I read was "Taming the Star Runner" because it had horses in it. :D I didn't connect it with "The Outsiders" until a few years after.

6/11/2007 04:54:00 PM  

Blogger Girl on the Run... said...

First let me just say, ::gushingly:: I love your blog. I am an avid reader but a very bad commenter..forgive me! :)

Secondly I am on baited breath waiting for Edward to return... and I am a huge fan of Harry of course!

Thirdly.. I love all your book recomendations and was wondering if you girls have ever compposed a list of must reads and if yes.. would you share it?

This is why I don't comment I tend to go on an on a bit much!

Hope all is better than well with you both! All the best,

6/12/2007 12:40:00 AM  

Anonymous Kirstin said...

I used to read a lot of YA when I was younger but I recently rediscovered the genre when my sister gave me a copy of Twilight. (she said she read it because of the bitches book club) I've been wanting to read more YA but I didn't know which books to pick, so this is very helpful. Thanks!

6/12/2007 12:52:00 AM  

Anonymous Kirstin said...

Oh. I have the same request as girl on the run. I would love to have a list of must reads from both of you :)

6/12/2007 12:55:00 AM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Dance, the first book is my favourite too! lol

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who didn't like Dark Materials! I don't want to spoil it for those who have yet to read them but the underlying message of that trilogy turns me off.

Haven't read S.E. Hinton...

6/12/2007 02:22:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I love all your book recomendations and was wondering if you girls have ever compposed a list of must reads and if yes.. would you share it?

Trollop and i would love to. Trollop's very busy right now (she's finishing thesis, among other stuff) but i promise we'll get into that list asap. ;)

You know guys, i'm really glad i did this YA post. I want to read more YA books so really, thanks so much for all your good recs. :D

6/12/2007 02:54:00 AM  

Blogger Sparkling Cipher said...

I haven't had a chance to really check in for a while, so I know this is kind of late and I don't think I can add any books or authors. I just want to say that there are some wonderful suggestions here.

Harlot, I just reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It affects me the same way it did when I was 12. Nat = swoon.

I saw the movie Eragon and felt it wasn't quite complete. I can't wait to read the book - or books because isn't it a series?

I looooove Beverly Cleary. I send her a looong, embarrassingly gushy letter when she celebrated a big birthday last year.

Secret Garden is a favorite, as is The Little Princess.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't read many of the others. My wish list just got really long!

6/12/2007 04:06:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Sparkling, i love looooooove Nat! *sigh* He's the one who popped my romance cherry. :P

I didn't mention The Witch of Blackbird Pond on my post because i was concentrating on new YA books. But i highly recommend it. ;)

6/12/2007 05:10:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

Cornelia Funke was mentioned on the other thread. Has anyone read her books?

Re: Nat = swoon

I'm going to get a copy of that Blackbird Witch. I remember Harlot gushing about it on that popping cherry post. And now Sparkling Cipher and I believe Dance. I like swooning. lol :-P

6/13/2007 02:21:00 AM  

Blogger Liquid said...

Just had to blog-roll you! Wonderful blog!

6/14/2007 01:07:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I saw Eragon the other night. It's not bad but it seemed to me as if they were trying to be the LOTR for teens. It felt like there's something missing (not just the ending of the story). It made me want to read the book though, and I will. I just got a copy! :)

6/16/2007 05:36:00 PM  

Anonymous Youngblood said...

You have great book suggestions here. I love Scott Westerfeld and his Uglies series. FYI, it's not a trilogy anymore. Yay! The fourth book is called "Extras" and it comes out on October 2 :)

6/18/2007 01:12:00 AM  

Blogger ~B said...

Nobody reads Louise Rennison??
By word, at least one of you should.

6/25/2007 05:41:00 AM