June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA Discussion: Children's/Young Adult Literature

Although I've never explicitly stated that Late Nights with Good Books is a young adult book blog, the majority of the books I review and discuss do fall into the young adult category. And that's fine. Actually, that's more than fine. I started reading YA probably when I was ten or eleven, and it's an age category that has continued to interest me. We all undergo so many changes as young adults, figuring out our identities, what matters most to us, and starting the process of becoming full-fledged adults. It's an exciting time, but also a scary one full of uncertainties. I, for one, will tire of these coming of age tales.

Due to the success of the Harry Potter series, the Twilight series, and The Hunger Games trilogy, among others, young adult literature has definitely gained some prominence within the literary marketplace. I have the sneaking suspicion, however, that a lot of people still tend to be dismissive of books that cater towards this age group as a whole. After all, what can stories about young adults teach adults? A lot, as it turns out. 

This quote from C.S. Lewis sums up my argument the best: 
No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.
The younger the intended audience of a book is, the more universal that book becomes. That should hardly come as a surprise. As we age, we're able to start appreciating things catered for our specific age group, but that should not be at the expense of our ability to connect with stories geared towards younger audiences once. We're no longer those ages anymore, but we once were, and being removed from that age range gives us a fresher, more complex perspective, I think. And catering towards a specific audience does not necessarily mean that the adult author is writing down to that audience. Young adult books have just as much potential to be intelligent, well-crafted, and poignant.
Perhaps you've read some of the more popular YA books and are looking for similar types of books. Below are a few lists by genre that first mention one of the most popular YA books within that genre, and then other books that I think readers may possibly enjoy. I tried to pick books that aren't as recent, and those that I first read years ago and still love, meaning that I do not have reviews for the majority of them. 

If you liked the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, you might like:
Sabriel (Abhorsen trilogy) by Garth Nix: Sabriel is a prefect at her boarding school in Ancelstierre with little knowledge of the magical Old Kingdom beyond the border, when she learns that her father is trapped in the world of the dead. In order to save her father, Sabriel travels to the Old Kingdom. While searching for her father, she also must take up the bells and sword and become a necromancer in her father's stead, despite her limited training. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials trilogy) by Philip Pullman: Lyra lives at Oxford's Jordan College in an alternate-universe where polar bears talk, witches exist, a powerful and mysterious Magisterium, and the soul of every person is manifested through an animal companion called a daemon. Lyra hears talk of horrifying experiments testing the bonds between human children and their daemons in the north, so, armed with an alethiometer that can answer any question, she and her daemon Pantalaimon seek out the truth.
The Thief (The Queen's Thief series) by Megan Whalen Turner: Gen boasts that he's the best thief in Sounis, and for that he winds up in prison. Then one day the king's adviser seeks out Gen, offering him money and freedom for one small task: to steal and return to Sounis with Hamiathes' Gift, a stone of the gods that gives its wielder incredible power. The problem is, no one's seen the stone for many, many years now.

If you liked The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, you might like:

The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran series) by Nancy Farmer: Matteo Alacran lives in Opium, the lands between Mexico and the U.S. that are controlled by a powerful drug lord, El Patron. Matteo spends the first few years of his life in isolation and blissful ignorance, unaware that he's anything other than a young child under the protection of El Patron. And once he discovers that he's actually a personal clone of El Patron's, his life becomes much more valuable and dangerous than he could have ever anticipated.
The Giver (The Giver quartet) by Lois Lowry: In Jonas' world, turning twelve means children are given their Assignments and become adults within the community. Jonas feels as though he has no obvious talents or interests, and is worried about what Assignment the community Elders will give him. His Assignment as the new Receiver is both unusual and an honor, for the Receiver's job is to hold onto all the communal memories, the horrors and tragedies, as well as the joys and triumphs, throughout history, so that no one else has to remember them.
Uglies (Uglies series) by Scott Westerfeld: Everyone is born with differences, with imperfections. In other words, everyone is born ugly. Once teens reach their sixteenth birthday, they undergo a procedure to make them pretty and go live with the other pretties, where life is wonderful and full of parties. When it's nearly time for her procedure to take place, protagonist Tally begins to suspect that everything is not quite as perfect as it seems.

If you liked The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, you might like:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: Through letters to an unmentioned friend, Charlie describes the ups and downs of his year, from the loneliness and sadness as a result of his best friend's death last year, to the friendship he forms with his English teacher, to his growing aspirations to become a writer. The majority of his letters, however, are devoted to a group of seniors who befriend and accept Charlie for who he is, including step-siblings Sam and Patrick. 
Holes (Holes series) by Louis Sachar: Due to being mistakenly accused of theft, Stanley Yelnats finds himself serving his sentence at Camp Green Lake. What was once a lake is now a dried and dusty landscape, where boys spend their time digging one hole each day. The longer he spends there, the more Stanley wonders just what they're digging for, hidden in the bottom of a long-ago lake.
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: Lee Fiora doesn't believe that staying at home in Indiana and attending high school there will make her competitive enough for college admissions, and decides to accept a scholarship to attend a prestigious boarding school in New England. Prep school is not something that she can prepare for, however, and Lee struggles to fit in with her popular, upper-class classmates.

If you liked the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, you might like:
The Summoning (Darkest Powers trilogy) by Kelley Armstrong: Chloe can see ghosts, so, after being hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia, she's sent to live at a boarding home for troubled teens and those with mental illnesses. Although she continues to take her medicine, that doesn't stop her from seeing ghosts and witnessing strange occurrences in this house. As time goes on, Chloe begins to wonder if maybe there's another explanation for her visions, and if the same can't be said for her fellow housemates.
Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales series) by Holly Black: Kaye has always been her mother's caretaker, moving around the country as her mother plays with one band and then another. Kaye's been fine with that life and feels confined when she and her mother go back to New Jersey to live with her grandmother for a bit. While at her old home, Kaye sees glimpses of unusual things, but it isn't until she helps a wounded knight that Kaye discovers the hidden faerie realm, and the ongoing conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone series) by Laini Taylor: Enigmatic Karou has hair that grows in blue and a sketchbook filled with fantastical beings called chimera that she refers to on a familiar basis. She's been able to balance between the human and paranormal worlds until one day the ages-old conflict between chimera and angels sweeps her into its war as well.

Of course, these are only the tip of the iceberg that is great young adult literature, but hopefully they can provide a good starting point.

Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts!
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Holes, Prep and the His Dark Materials trilogy are all great picks. I'd add that if you liked The Hunger Games you'll like Breathe by Sarah Crossan, which I reviewed here. A good piece of dystopian fiction, although the others in the series have yet to be released (boo).

    By the way, I've really enjoyed your Armchair BEA posts.


  2. ashamed to confess i have of course heard a lot about these but have read non! thanks for sharing this fabulous quote by CS Lewis - ah , i DID read AND love Narnia!

  3. Great recommendations! Armchair BEA sounds like so much fun! Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  4. I love these picks and recommendations! I am getting ready to start The Queen's Thief series as part of the Summer series Challenge I am co-hosting and I am SO excited. I have heard so many wonderful things about the series:)


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