If you read this blog regularly you’ll probably have gathered, or possibly have read outright, that I don’t usually read young adult fiction. There’s no denying it’s a popular genre though, and I am forever being recommended books that I end up just not enjoying. That said, there are a handful of young adult books I’ve read that I would recommend to anyone who – like me – doesn’t usually read YA but has found themselves tempted to dip a toe in.
The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting, Holly Bourne
A totally cliched plot that reads like the best possible mash up of all of your favourite high school comedies. It’s the self awareness that gives this story its edge and while it might not have the most original ending, it does have some fantastically unlikeable characters, witty retorts, and one of my favourite quotes from Alan Bennet’s The History Boys.
The Knife Of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
So, this one might be verging back into Middle Grade territory but I’m sticking it in here. This is a crazy story full of adventure and science fiction, and more suspense than any young adult book has the right to create. The Chaos Walking trilogy is also home to one of the most creepy, calculating villains I’ve ever come across – oh, and there’s a talking dog. Kind of.
It’s Not All About You, Calma!, Barry Jonsberg
I’ll admit, it’s been a while. Back in the day I read this book over and over and it’s actually another case of not exactly likeable characters – but their lack of likeability just makes me like them more, you know? It’s a great commentary on working in retail and being a teenager in general, and there are also some fab one liners. Plus, it’s got a family focus and an Australian author.
WINGER, Andrew Smith
A tale of vaguely delinquent rich boys playing rugby, and the team’s winger in his pursuit of learning to keep his mouth shut and winning the girl of his dreams. What do you mean you’re not sold? Ryan Dean is amusing and smart and does ridiculous things like taking all of his clothes off as he runs through the woods. The story is very subtly stylised so it’s much more than just another boarding school story.
Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta
Marchetta is, in my opinion, the queen of the family/coming of age drama. Or something like that, I honestly don’t have a lot to compare her to but this book is everything I believe the genre can be. It’s funny, and sad, and relatable but kind of nostalgic at the same time. You get all of the angst of adolescence but also the feeling of potential. This is YA that doesn’t feel like YA, even though it’s main setting is a highschool.