I have read many fantastic young adult books over my time, and many not so fantastic, but today we’re going to focus on the positives and examine my top ten favourite young adult books I’ve read so far.
These books are in no particular order.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. – from Goodreads.com
Both Stephen Chbosky’s book and film are very near and dear to my heart. He manages to sum up perfectly what in England we call an “inbetween-er” and express feelings I couldn’t find the words to say myself.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miles “Pudge” Halter is abandoning his safe-okay, boring-life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Pudge becomes encircled by friends whose lives are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is razor-sharp, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska, who has perfected the arts of pranking and evading school rules. Pudge falls impossibly in love. When tragedy strikes the close-knit group, it is only in coming face-to-face with death that Pudge discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally. – from Goodreads.com
In May 2011 I picked this book up second-hand in Budapest for less than a British pound. I read it practically in one sitting and fell in love. I had been yearning for something to express all the feelings and unanswered questions I had surrounding the death of my father, and reading this book felt like coming home. It has become my holy grail YA, my go-to recommendation and what made me realise WHY I wanted to be a writer. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids. But Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? – from Goodreads.com
I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. I needed Rainbow Rowell to write a book detailing my life in online Fandom, how it laid the foundations for my writing career, allowed me to talk to others about the books/films that I loved, and how it gave me more confidence to be myself and not be ashamed of my obsessions. A must-read for anyone who has spent time online, written fan fiction, and ship-ed characters into OTP-dom.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – from Goodreads.com
I don’t think I’ve met someone who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars (commonly shortened to TFioS). If you want a tear-jerking story that will fill your heart with sadness and happiness in equal measure then this is the book for you. I felt physically hungover after reading this book, but don’t let that stop you from immersing yourself in the delectable story of Hazel and Augustus.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. – from Goodreads.com
This is one of the most important books I’ve read on rape culture. (Don’t shout at me. (Not) Asking for It by Louise O’Neill is on my TBR!) Written lyrically and beautifully, we are taken on Mel’s journey as she narrates her own internal monologue and eventually has to face up to the truth of that night.
Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… – from Goodreads.com
A cat and mouse chase-type road trip full of fun and friendships. This novel poses some really important questions, especially since the rise in popularity of social media, and the lines between virtual reality are becoming more and more blurred.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. – from Goodreads.com
Poetic, vivid and expertly written, this novel, complete with beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman, narrates Min’s journey as she details all the reasons why she broke up with charismatic jock Ed.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. – from Goodreads.com
Thrilling, exciting and completely engaging. This breakout novel from Jay Asher makes it’s mark on the young adult genre and is a must-read for any readers looking for a book full of mystery and intrigue.
We Were Liars by E Lockhart
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. – from Goodreads.com
Another gripping read from one of my almost-auto-buy authors E Lockhart. With a massive twist at the end that is set to make your head spin, it’s impossible not to envision this as a film in the coming years.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way. – from Goodreads.com
This book is as electrifying as it sounds. It breaks the mould of the dystopian genre and a becomes one-of-a-kind book that leaves you wondering about the future of our world, and draws you into a love story as delicious as the idyllic farm where Daisy and Ed’s romance is born.
That concludes my top ten young adult standalone books. Are there any you’ve read that missed the short list? Which books do you agree are worthy of a recommendation? Let me know in the comments.