Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Delving into the YA book world

I've been reading a lot of YA lately, mainly because I'm attempting to write one of my own so I need to see what's out there. It seems there are two main themes of YA these days: vampires and dystopian novels. But that's not to say they're bad.

Because I'm not into vampires (no, I did not like TWILIGHT, and if you want to get into why, I'll tell you but only if asked directly), I usually steer away from those. Although you really can't throw a cat without hitting a vampire book in a YA section, either at the library or at a bookstore.

I didn't think I liked dystopian novels, either. I've got issues with all those kids reading about the end of the world and depressing future worlds. But I found a series I find surprisingly good, with really great characters. It's Michael Grant's GONE series. I've read GONE and am halfway through HUNGER and have LIES on order. In this series, everyone over the age of 14 just poofs out. Is gone. No longer exists. And there's a strange barrier surrounding the town and animals begin to mutate and talk. It's a bit LORD OF THE FLIES, but the characters are well drawn and the story told well.

I've also started reading James Patterson's MAXIMUM RIDE series, because my daughter is doing a yearlong project in which she's reading the first four books and then will write a paper in June. This is another series I wasn't sure about. I mean, it's about kids with wings. Kids who were genetically engineered by mixing human and avian DNA. Sure, it's out there, but this is another compelling read. I love everyone in "the flock" and the story moves really fast, which is why my daughter likes it.

I know many people credit Harry Potter with getting kids to read again, but between that and Rick Riordan's great Percy Jackson series, and these other books, I'm surprised any kid would have a hard time finding a book to fit his or her taste.

Do you read any YA?


Anonymous said...

Hey Karen
The first Maximum Ride book is good - I found the more I read of the series the more moralistic and preachy it got.
I will check out Gone!

Anonymous said...

I love YA literature! (Maybe it's partly due to the fact that, like you, I aspire to write it.) I'm not into vampire novels or the end-of-the-world stuff, but I do love thrillers and dramas. May I make a few recommendations? ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab and IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. I also enjoy the LILY DALE series (set in a spiritualist community) by Wendy Corsi Staub...

Karen Olson said...

Gaylin, I just started the second Maximum Ride book, so I'm not too far into the series.

John, I'll put those titles on my list. Thanks!

David Terrenoire said...

I am woefully ignorant about YA novels, something I should remedy (as soon as I finish this 500 page history).

I can only add, the book that really got my daughter reading in high school was Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work..."

She is an adult now and a happy reader. Thanks, Dave.

Jan said...

I read some. I like Lisa McCann's "Wake" series,
James A. Owens' "The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica" Series and Michael Scott's " Alchemyst" series. The first is a bit paranormal, the other two are totally Sci-Fi/Fantasy (my other love aside from mysteries, although these tend have a bit of mystery to them)

Chris said...

Hi Karen! I didn't know you started your own blog. Congrats!

Probably the only YA I will read IS dystopian. Zombies are almost as big as vampires in YA (Forest of Hands and Teeth).

Karen Olson said...

David, I've never read Eggers but have heard good things about it.

Jan, I've seen the Alchemyst books and am intrigued.

Chris, so glad you found me over here! One of my favorite zombie YA books is GENERATION DEAD by my friend Daniel Waters. Great satire, great story.

Chris said...

Cool to see that you have your own blog! I haven't read a whole lot of YA but my girlfriend took a whole class on teaching YA lit this pas semester--she recommends The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and The Compound by S.A. Bodeen (kind of a apocalypse story). And I'll also take the opportunity to plug my friend Lucy Silag's Beautiful Americans series, which are very funny.

becky hutchison said...

My favorite YA author is Chris Grabenstein. His first book in his Haunted Mystery series, THE CROSSROADS, won the 2008 Agatha for Best Novel in the YA/Children's category. It's a wonderful book about fitting in, friendships and blended families. His second book in the series, THE HANGING HILL, was awarded the 2009 Agatha this year in the same category. Chris is a really nice, funny guy, and tonight he launches the latest book ROLLING THUNDER in his adult John Ceepak mystery series.