Many adults are reluctant to pick up Young Adult books. Reasons vary, from being afraid to look silly to thinking YA books are pure fluff. Many think that YA is not worth their time. To try to remedy this, here are five YA books to get you started if you’re reluctant to pick up a YA book or want to convert someone to the wonders that are Young Adult books.
1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
“I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.”
This book is amazing. Melina Marchetta is an Australian author who never fails to deliver. Taylor is a very strong and very fierce girl who has been through so much and never gives up. Her story is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
2. Luna by Julie Anne Peters
“For years, Regan’s brother Liam has been nursing a secret. By day, he is Liam, a passably typical boy of his age; at night, he transforms himself into Luna, his true, female self. Regan loves and supports her brother and she keeps her Liam/Luna secret. Things change, though, when Luna decides to emerge from her cocoon. She begins dressing like a girl in public; first at the mall; then at school; then at home. Regan worries that her brother’s transgender identity is threatening her own slippery hold on normalcy.”
This is a powerful and important book. As someone from a very sheltered household, this book educated me a lot. It’s told from the point of view of Luna’s younger sister, which I think it’s brilliant as we get to see Luna’s struggles through the eyes of someone who loves her and who is suffering alongside her.
3. The Astonishing Life Of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: The Pox Party
In this fascinating and eye-opening Revolution-era novel, Octavian, a black youth raised in a Boston household of radical philosophers, is given an excellent classical education. He and his mother, an African princess, are kept isolated on the estate, and only as he grows older does he realize that while he is well dressed and well fed, he is indeed a captive being used by his guardians as part of an experiment to determine the intellectual acuity of Africans. As the fortunes of the Novanglian College of Lucidity change, so do the nature and conduct of their experiments.
This book has it all: a great plot, fascinating characters, it’s written in 18th Century language, which is a challenge to read but very satisfying. It touches issues of racism, human rights, slavery, free will, among other topics. A must-read.
4. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Strange, sleepy Rogerson, with his long brown dreads and brilliant green eyes, had seemed to Caitlin to be an open door. With him she could be anybody, not just the second-rate shadow of her older sister, Cass. But now she is drowning in the vacuum Cass left behind when she turned her back on her family’s expectations by running off with a boyfriend. Caitlin wanders in a dream land of drugs and a nightmare of Rogerson’s sudden fists, lost in her search for herself.
Dreamland is about a girl whose boyfriend abuses her. He hits her and manipulates her and destroys her self esteem. It is thought-provoking and terrifying, and you will feel as if you are Caitlin, struggling for an exit.
5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents–swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa’s Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.
Graceling has one of the best, strongest female characters in YA. It has fantasy, romance, epic fights, great character development, and I just can’t sing its praises high enough. We watch as Katsa grows and struggles with her wants and beliefs. If you loved the Hunger Games and Katniss, you will adore Graceling and Katsa.
What do you think, readers? What other books are a good gateway to YA?