There’s a lot of fantastic YA books out there – The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, the Pellinor series by Allison Croggon, anything by Rick Riordan, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling… these books and others are pretty well-known, and have even been turned into movies. But I’d like to highlight 3 books I’ve read in the last couple years, which maybe didn’t get the press that some others did. These are books that not only reached beyond the stereotypical themes of YA literature like the authors listed above, but also tackled some very serious issues along the way, such as World War II, death and bio-medical ethics.
So without further ado… here’s my top 3 “don’t miss these” YA books.
1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Death is the narrator of the story, which gives the book a twisted and fascinating feel. The protagonist is 9-year-old Liesel, who is in a foster home outside Munich during World War II. As she tries to deal with this, she begins to steal books, learning to read from her foster-father and sharing the stories with her neighbors hiding in the bomb shelter with her…as well as with the Jewish man hiding in her basement. It is the story of finding something beautiful in the midst of horror.
2. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
16-year-old Cameron’s parents think his erratic behavior and strange hallucinations are caused by drug use… until he’s diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s (also called “mad cow” disease), which is terminal. Guided by a punk-rock angel, he sets off on one last journey with a talking yard gnome. What is reality and what is hallucination? It all twists together into a humorous and philosophical story of a young man dying before he really got a chance to live.
3. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
A teenage girl wakes up from a coma and can’t remember anything – her name, her family, or her home. The year before, she had been in a terrible accident, and is only now waking up. As she tries to discover who she is and what the truth is of her survival, she gradually stumbles on a horrifying secret. The author does a fantastic job of tackling bio-medical ethics and what makes us human.