My Favorite YA Books~ In Which I Provide Proof That I Do Enjoy YA Books From Time To Time

Good morrow, friends!

Back in the ancient days of Last Year, I wrote a post about Exceptional Middle Grade Novels, in which I shoved my favorite MG books at you. You’re welcome.

In the process of writing that post however, I came across books in the Teen/Young Adult category that I love very much. (This came as something of a shock, since I usually avoid YA books, as I am rarely satisfied by them.) Regretting that I had to leave them off my MG list, I decided to write a post about my favorite YA books as well. It seemed logical.

Hence, this post exists.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

If you are looking for an excuse to sprawl out on the floor and weep, this might be it.

Conor is a lonely boy struggling with the fact that his Mum is terribly sick. He is doing his best to take care of things and keep their lives together. It’s right around this time that the monster comes to call. The monster wants the truth, but Conor isn’t going to let him have it so easily.

This powerful book is beautifully and effectively illustrated by Jim Kay. The illustrations don’t just accent the story, they are a huge part of it. It feels like you are really seeing inside of Conor’s troubled heart.

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell

Nonlinear storytelling? I’m in.

Estรฉban is a cartographer, a mapmaker. He joins a band of explorers, Spanish conquistadors on a quest to find the lost city of gold. The journey will change him, and not necessarily for the better.

This historical adventure novel is told in two parallel timelines, one of the journey Estรฉban goes on and one of the aftermath. This format adds wonderfully to the story.

Momo by Michael Ende

This book is kind of hard to describe. It’s fantasy, and there is a turtle.

Momo just showed up one day in this town, and I guess everyone just went with it. She is a quiet, attentive girl who listens better than anybody. She is also the one who notices that something very strange is going on with people’s time. It just seems to be…disappearing.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

This novel, set during the Vietnam War, is about a boy from a dysfunctional family who moves to a new town. He thinks the new town stupid, and tells us so multiple times. He gets a job as a delivery boy and meets all sorts of people from this stupid, new town. He also spends quite a bit of time at the library- but not because he’s a chump.

Doug is the sweetest kid. His voice is so real, and his story is both funny and sad. This book manages to contain bird illustrations by John James Audubon, baseball, a rocking horse, sherbet, and Jane Eyre. I’m not lying.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Jack’s family is taking in a foster kid. The kid’s name is Joseph. He is fourteen, and he has a daughter. So you already know this book is going to be unfairly sad.

It is very short but also likely to punch a hole through your heart on its way through.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Ah, a lovely little story about ritualistic burning of humans.

Okay, so actually this medieval fantasy book is wonderful (if a wee bit dark in places) and very imaginative. (Not to mention underrated. NO ONE knows about it.)

Kate is a brilliant protagonist, and the plot is extremely satisfying, with just the right amount of adventure and mystery and creepiness and emotional turmoil. I don’t even mind the romance in this one- which, if you know how harsh I am about romance, means A LOT.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Again, who has actually read this? Like, three people. It’s sad.

This book is about ghosts, but not really. Peggy goes to live with her uncle in a big historical house and meets these ghosts that lived during the American Revolutionary War period. They all share their stories (which are all terribly entertaining in a Robin Hood/Princess Bride-esque way) and meanwhile Peggy is having an adventure of her own.

I don’t mind the romance in this one either. It’s hilarious.

This book contains: American soldiers, British spies, secret codes, poison, fancy parties, and baked beans.

(Also, no, this book has nothing at all to do with Robin Hood. The name is misleading in that regard. But one of the characters is similar to Robin Hood’s character.)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Let’s build an army of children to fight against the aliens. That’ll work.

This science fiction novel is about a messed up kid in a messed up society going to a messed up school in outer space. Ender (the aforementioned messed up kid) has been targeted as a potential military leader. He has a brilliant tactical mind and he can be horrifyingly ruthless. But part of him is just a kid who loves his sister and hates himself for hurting people.

Someone, help this child.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This contemporary novel has a lot of content in it that I would generally avoid at all costs, such as teen sex/drinking/drug use/pregnancy, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

I know, it sounds like a nightmare. And it is.

The only reason I put up with any of that is because I love Charlie so much.

Charlie is just starting high school, which tells you just how depressing this story is going to be. He is a quiet, thoughtful kid who struggles with mental health, and he ends up making friends with a group of people who all have brokenness of their own.

Let’s just say that one of the main impressions this book made on me was that we are all so desperate to be loved and to belong that we often put up with the most horrible things. There are dysfunctional relationships galore.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This historical novel, set in Germany during WWII, gives a unique perspective on the war. It is narrated by Death, and focuses on the story of a little German girl named Liesel. The writing is imaginative and poignant, painting a memorable picture of the little street where Liesel lives with her foster parents. It’s both beautiful and haunting.

Honorable Mention: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas, A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews, The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews, What Hearts by Bruce Brooks, Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Epilogue

I often find YA to be a somewhat narrow genre (when I browse that section at the library everything seems to be about vampires/witches/zombies/ghosts, forbidden love, teenagers being stupid, etc.), but there are some really stunning books written for a YA audience. I have found that in general there is more variety in Middle Grade, and I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it is only my imagination.

But hey, I managed to make a pretty decent list of good YA books, so I am proud of myself.

Have you read any of these books? Do you read a lot of YA? Do you agree or disagree that the YA selection is narrow compared to Middle Grade? What are some of your favorite YA books and why? I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this matter in the comments!

28 thoughts on “My Favorite YA Books~ In Which I Provide Proof That I Do Enjoy YA Books From Time To Time

  1. I LOVE The Perilous Gard! I read it when I was around eleven, and it got me to look up the different ballads it mentioned and get into them, so I guess you could call it somewhat influential for me. It’s such an amazing book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What joyous news is this??? It gladdens my heart to hear that you love The Perilous Gard! Most people don’t seem to have heard of it, and that makes me sad. I love that it got you interested in olden ballads as well. Books are amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so hard to find good YA books, but this list is packed with amazing ones!
    I have read the aforementioned Gary Schimdt and Ender’s Game (but you already knew that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but I have actually read King’s Fifth as well. It seemed like such a forgotten little story, I’m surprised to find someone else who has read it! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have added many new books to my tbr list from this post haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, so you agree! And thank you, I think they are rather amazing myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      You have read The King’s Fifth? That’s wonderful! Yeah, I read it for school ages ago, and I am very grateful for that or I may never have realized that it existed. I love finding other people who have read the same obscure books as I have!
      You are quite welcome, I love to make people’s TBR lists longer than they already are. ๐Ÿ˜‰ When you get around to reading any of them, I would be happy to hear what you think! (Even if you despise them- I am open to conflicting opinions.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hardly read YA either, mostly because the vast majority of the books in that genre look stupid (or sketchy). ๐Ÿ™ƒ BUT if I could find some good ones, I’d love to read more YA.
    I’ve been wanting to read A Monster Calls. It sounds so heartrendingly sad! ๐Ÿ˜ญ I must read it.
    ALL OF THESE SOUND SO FANTASTIC!! ๐Ÿ“šโค๏ธ
    I must agree with you about MG…there is more variety. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, right? I feel the same way. There are a great many sketchy books in YA. Really the only “sketchy” books on my list are Ender’s Game (but only sort of), The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Because You’ll Never Meet Me. (That is, they might have some questionable content.) The rest of the books are just awesome, wholesome books and I highly recommend them.
      YES, read A Monster Calls.
      Thank you! I hope you find something you like in the YA department.
      Yes, I really think MG has more variety. I’m glad you agree!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Ah, a lovely little tale about ritualistic burning of humans” hahahaha. In all seriousness, though, I love that book. I was actually recommended it by Becky (who commented above) because I was whining that there are no Tam Lin retellings and the one I managed to find was no good. The Perilous Gard was so good. (And I do think that romance was just about perfect.)
    (And maybe I should read The Sherwood Ring, then? The ghost thing has been throwing me off.)

    “The King’s Fifth” and “Okay for Now” sound so good? Between this post and Eden’s favorites-of-the-year one, I have TOO MANY BOOKS TO READ.

    (Also Ender’s Game is so messed up. Poor baby Ender. ๐Ÿ˜ญ)

    I always feel that way about YA, that’s it’s always the SAME, and not a same I’m interested in. (And also content that I’m like, what are you doing giving this to KIDS?!?) It’s hard to find the hidden gems. (Most likely cause they are, as their name implies, hidden. ๐Ÿ™„)
    I do think MG tends to have more variety, which is why it’s my favorite, only sometimes I think it doesn’t. It’s always a heartwarming tale of friendship and a first coming-to-grips with the world as it is, or quirky fantasy. (But those are things I AM interested in, so I don’t mind as much. ๐Ÿ˜œ)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so thrilled to find people who appreciate The Perilous Guard as much as I do!!! And YES, I HIGHLY recommend that you read The Sherwood Ring. I was put off by the ghosts too at first, but I had to read it for school and I am so glad that I did! It is such a fun book and the ghost thing isn’t really weird or anything.
      I just reread Okay for Now and I love it so much. You should totally read it. Haha, I guess having too many good books to read is a fine problem to have? But it’s still hard. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I KNOW, why are those gems so HIDDEN? It’s annoying. The content in YA really is what puts me off most of the time. I am easily disturbed. But yeah, I think I agree with what you are saying about MG being the same a lot as well, only it’s something more interesting than the sameness of the YA books. You definitely have a point there.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It is hard to find good YA books, so I only read them if they are recommended to me by someone who shares my classic stories tastes. Thank you for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is certainly difficult to find good YA books. I hope that you find something that you like from this list. (I do caution you that everything I posted here isn’t for everyone. That being said, you cannot go wrong with Gary D. Schmidt or Elizabeth Marie Pope.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know, finding good YA is difficult it seems. More so than MG. The King’s Fifth is quite good, and I love The Perilous Gard. It’s dark, but there is light too. Sometimes I like it when stories get that dark because it makes the light shine clearer. And it’s not nearly as dark as a lot of YA. I would definitely recommend it.

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  6. I NEED to read A Monster Calls – everyone seems to be talking about how great it is… ๐Ÿ™‚ Is the movie good as well?
    It’s amazing how much leadership is weaved into Ender’s Game. I absolutely love Ender (one of those really complex characters that I can actually relate to). Have you ever heard of/read Ender’s World (I was larking about it on Evelyn’s blog last week ;)?
    Yeah, I agree – it’s super hard to find good stories in YA. Have you read The Hunger Games or the Divergent Trilogy? What did you think of those?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The movie of A Monster Calls is actually quite good! At least, in my opinion. I actually saw it before reading the book, which is what made me interested in reading it.
      I haven’t heard of Ender’s World! I will have to see what you said about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Confession, I have only seen The Hunger Games movies. I KNOW that the books are really good, because my mom and two of my sisters have read the series, but I haven’t read them. I really love the movies, and I also get all sorts of book facts from my family, so sometimes I almost feel like I’ve read them, but I haven’t.
      I read the first book in the Divergent series, but I couldn’t bring myself to continue. I’m afraid I didn’t like it much. The writing felt sub-par and the world felt too thin. Not the mention some glaring plot holes that I still like to rail against when I get the chance. I am sometimes an unreasonably harsh critic. Did you read those series’?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cool! I truly appreciate it when screen adaptations live up to their original books. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Yeah! Just go take a peek at the comments I made on Evelyn’s (Rain-drenched writer) post about her 2019 reads. Let me know what you think!
        Ahem. Ahem. Yep – GO READ the books! ๐Ÿ˜‰ They are awesome. (Albeit not the bestest prose I’ve read, but still, really good for YA, and WAY BETTER than Roth’s Divergent series.) I did read the entire Divergent series, and yes, it wasn’t all that great. It’s been years so I don’t remember any plot holes (perhaps I was a wee bit too young as an analytical reader to realize that they existed in the story, but I do recall that it was not as compelling/gripping as Hunger Games. (Also – I was surprised and disappointed that Roth claims to be a Christian and yet was comfortable as an author with putting in those rather explicit sexual content in her books. Hate it when YA includes not only sappy romance but also rather more explicit content (than I’m comfortable with anyway). Hunger Games has some light language but nothing else.) I guess the movies did poorly as well, since they’re not even going to make the Part II of the finale book. ๐Ÿ˜›

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      2. Ender’s World sounds compelling, though I often shy away from things with the word “essay” involved. I think if I had something like that on my shelf I would enjoy picking it up and reading bits of it, but it’s not the sort of thing I would naturally seek out at the library.
        Yes, I know, The Hunger Games series IS on my list of things to read- it’s just such a long list and it keeps getting pushed back. I really do need to read them though. You’re convicting me. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        Yeah, I wasn’t impressed with Roth’s story or her storytelling at all. And I don’t really see a whole lot of Christian themes in it. I’m all for Christians writing fiction that isn’t explicitly Christian, but I would think you would still be able to see some difference between the Christian author’s point of view and the secular author. I find more powerful Christian themes in secular stories honestly, which is kind of sad.
        My favorite plot hole to point out in Divergent (at least from the first book, since that’s the one I read) is that NO ONE AT ALL remembers who Four is even though he a) was the son of a prominent official in Abnegation, b) switched factions, which is somewhat rare, c) switched from Abnegation to Dauntless, which is EXTREMELY rare, and d) did all of this two years ago…which is not a very long time. I find it painfully hilarious that literally no one has a clue who this mysterious guy is or where he came from or ANYTHING. It’s too much. Anyway…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah.. I read Ender’s World in snippets during drives. ๐Ÿ™‚ They’re rather short and sweet and interesting though!
        My thoughts exactly. I actually encourage Christians to be writers in the secular market b/c I think they may reach a wider audience and an audience that needs more of the Light (subtle, subtle :).
        Wow – great point! Thanks for pointing that out. I think I was so caught up with just finishing the story that I didn’t come up with that ๐Ÿ™‚ (Just had a feeling it was missing something. Obviously.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. YES, those are very similar to my thoughts on Christians as writers! There’s this phrase my mom uses and I don’t remember who she is quoting. It’s about film making rather than writing, but it’s the same idea. It goes like this: “We don’t need more Christian films, we need more Christian film makers.” Or something like that. Anyway, I think that’s true, and I love it when other artists agree!

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      5. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think that quote is a variant of the quote: “โ€œThe world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.โ€ Commonly attributed to C.S. Lewis (KingdomPen had a mug they sell with this awesome quote), but I think some articles are saying Lewis didn’t say this word for word – see “This is one of those of those quotes where it takes a general idea of something Lewis said, but rewords it in such a way as to expand the thought beyond what he actually said.

        He wrote something similar in โ€œChristian Apologetics,โ€ an essay included in God in the Dock. The actual quote is, โ€œWhat we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects โ€“ with their Christianity latent.โ€

        So Lewisโ€™ point is not necessarily about Christians writing good literature, but Christians writing well about a host of subjects with their faith influencing what they have to say about the various topics. This, he argues, is the type of โ€œapologeticโ€ literature most likely to influence culture and change individualsโ€™ thinking.” original link http://thewardrobedoor.com/2014/03/7-things-c-s-lewis-didnt-say.html

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      6. Aha, that makes so much sense that it would come back to something C.S. Lewis said. I am often amazed by how often what he says is how I was already thinking- it is as if he articulates something I have felt for a long time without quite realizing how to explain it. I see what he said about something and go “YES, that is EXACTLY what it’s like!” It’s sort of weird sometimes actually.

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      7. P.S. Anywho, I still like that quote and the original idea C.S. Lewis had about it. Another one of my ABSOLUTE favorites from Lewis in Mere Christianity is: “Enemy-occupied territoryโ€”that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening–in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.” ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Yes! I am so happy to find a fellow appreciator of Okay for Now. And The Book Thief is a masterpiece. The movie adaption was very good, but I honestly can’t decide which I like better. A Monster Calls is an excellent book, but I think I almost liked the movie better. They are both good.

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