This week’s guest post comes from a blogging duo who write some of the best, most thoughtful reviews and posts in the book blogging world: Sarah and Laura of Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.
So you want to read YA?
Recommendations from Sarah & Laura of Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.
While Clear Eyes, Full Shelves is not exclusively a YA blog, we read and review a ton of young adult fiction and love, love, love recommending the good ones. We really believe that there’s a YA novel for everyone–even for folks we have to trick into trying one own by sneakily forgetting to mention that a novel is “one of those teen book.” Here are our picks to help you find the young adult novel that’s will perfect match your tastes.
If your taste runs toward the literary…
The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell. This novel is not for everyone, but if you love to get lost in language and and a plot that softly tumbles forward, you won’t find much better than The Sharp Time.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Jandy Nelson’s debut is another book that’s not for everyone, but the combination of gentle magical realism and an emotion-filled story that lingers long after you turn the last page.
If you want to visit the ups and downs of hometown nostalgia…
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler. This is probably Laura’s favorite book in recent memory, as it captures so much about her hometown of Buffalo, New York (from which author Sarah Ockler also hails). It captures that simultaneous love of where you’re from and the growing knowledge that you just have to leave in order to move forward.
Out of This Place (known as Cinnamon Rain in Australia) by Emma Cameron. We’re sneakily slipping in a novel in verse here, but it’s a very approachable verse novel, so don’t fear if you’ve never tried one before. This one tells the story of three teens who escape their small Australian town for various, heartbreaking, reasons.
If you loved The Hunger Games, but find yourself disappointed by the copycats…
Tomorrow, When the War Began (series) by John Marsden. This seven-book series about a group of Aussie friends hiding in the bush after an invasion by a foreign army sent both of use down a rabbit hole of obsession as we had to know what happened to Ellie and her friends.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. This is a 2013 release and absolutely, positively the real deal. Nuanced characters, multiple points-of-view and moral ambiguity set the stage for for a complex story about the aftermath of an alien invasion.
If you’ve written off paranormal…
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. This gothic tale has it all: humor, creepy houses, kissing and a diverse cast of characters. As a bonus, if flips the idea of soulmates that’s so prevalent in YA on its head in a totally new way.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. All of us at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing–it’s always lyrical and oh so unique. The Scorpio Races is particularly special because it twists the paranormal genre into something completely different.
If you’d like to remember what it’s like to be a teenager…
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. It’s one night and possibilities abound in Cath Crowley’s story about a group of arty recent high school graduates in Melbourne. This is one of those YA novels that everyone we’ve recommended it to has adored Graffiti Moon.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. There’s something in the water in Australia, because YA from Down Under is truly something special. Saving Francesca has some heavier themes, but the dynamics between Francesca and her friends is a spot on depiction of what it’s like to be a teenager, both good and bad.
If you’d like to find a fresh take on the grief storyline…
Freefall by Mindi Scott. You’d have a tough time finding a more authentic teen boy voice in Mindi Scott’s debut novel about a boy at a crossroads of his life following the death of his best friend.
Miracle by Elizabeth Scott. Elizabeth Scott’s 2012 novel has inexplicably received next to no attention and that’s quite maddening. This quiet little novel about a teen girl dubbed “Miracle Megan” after being the lone survivor of a plane crash.
If you’re secretly a romantic…
Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Okay, okay… everyone has probably already read this one by now, but it’s one of the best examples of YA romance done really, really well. Perkins’ story isn’t just about finding love–it’s about finding oneself.
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. There’s a grand total of one kiss in Sarah Dessen’s perennially popular novel about a perfectionist teen girl and the artistic boy she spends her summer with while working at a ragtag catering company. Nevertheless, the build-up through the game of “Truth” the two play is absolutely charming.
If you want to get a taste of post-high school YA (what some folks may call “new adult”)…
Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker. (Ignore the ridiculous chick lit-style cover on this one, trust us–it’s fantastic.) One summer in Austin changes everything for music-obsessed Quinn, whose narrow worldview blows up when her cousin and her cousin’s friends push her outside her comfort zone in a big way.
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar. Australian author Eagar’s novels can be tough to find outside of Australia, but her debut Raw Blue is worth the effort and then some. This is a moving story about a damaged young woman who takes a different, non-college, path following high school and how she finds a way forward following a traumatic event.