Guest Posting at PanMacmillan South Africa this week: All about Young Adult Literature: The inside scoop on what’s out there for young adults…
Here’s the start…
In a world where marketers are trying to separate adults, young adults, teens and tweens into different categories, and so expand their market, a glance at the young adult section in a book shop can leave you feeling a little apprehensive. The current reads appear to be dark, dystopian, and well, depressing. And as a genre they tend to be filled with paranormal fantasy, sci-fi, mythology and people with “out-of-this world” qualities… literally. Our young adults are living between the pages of the under-world, where a resetting of the brain, not to mention higher superior or automated beings running the show, are quite normal. This world is nothing like the world that they live in, and provides an escape from the reality and pressures of real life.
It is a mistake to think that young adults don’t enjoy reading, they definitely do… read on, read on.
Our Favourite Contemporary Teen/Young Adult Reads
I thought I could quickly compile a list of our favourite teen reads, but as I asked my kids which young adult books they had enjoyed the list literally exploded… so here are some of their faves right now, I am sure this list will grow…
- About Real Life: We loved this book… a very grumpy and elderly Frank Derrick has the young and inspired district nurse to thank for a whole new attitude and look at life. Such a great read.
- Sweet Love: Set in the 1920’s in Southern England… Four sisters grow up and come of age… these are just lovely through and through. Books you want to climb into and live alongside the characters…
- Reads like a Diary: This is the story of Liv, who is the younger responsible sister of a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome. If that isn’t enough it is their journey of her mom’s battle with cancer… it is sad you will need tissues… but so beautifully written through the eyes of an eleven year old. This is on my “teens must read this book list.”
- History: Don’t be put off by the title, and the first chapter is a little grim as it mentions heads rolling… but read on, read on… this is a book all about friendship… endearing and enduring, it is a fabulous read set in the time of Henry VIII.
- Historical Coming of Age: Well Michael Morpugo and you can’t go wrong… he slides just as easily into beautiful poignant teen reads as his books for younger readers. It is the story of a boy sent to Australia, just after World War II. Heart-wrenching, of course… and beautiful.
- Life Goes on in the Heart of War: When my kids were tiny we read all of Shirley Hughes “Alfie books” again and again and again… well this is her writing a teen read and it is exceptional. Set in Italy, during World War II… the resistance, the Italians and the Germans are the big picture… but the “smaller story” of thirteen year old Paolo on his bicycle and his aloof older sister, Constnaza’s first love. Very sweet… just a lovely read.
- War Stories: Sam Angus’ books are so beautifully written… we read them as family read-a-louds. My younger kids love them, but the teens really get them. The emotional stirring and the nuances of relationships during war time… these are gripping must reads and if your kids haven’t read them by high school then get them. The sort of books that take you through the highs and lows of life and leave you all the richer for it.
- Awesome Adventure: For the reader who is ready to lurch in to more exciting and just deeper adventure stories than the masses of series of adventure books written for kids… look no further, these books are it. Gripping, exciting, twisting, turning and heaps to learn, with heaps of fold outs and little bits and pieces hidden between the covers.
- Fantastical Reads: Francis Hardinge is right there in my kids’ top read list… the books use wonderful words, wonderful places, wonderful characters… everything is vibrant and intense, richer and well just more. Just the incredible imagination and the intense use of creativity will leave you turnig the pages faster and faster…
- A Mermaid Mystery Series: This series has just begun and you are going to have to wait for the rest of it. I never thought this topic would fly, let’s face it – a mermaid mystery sounds just a little bit twee… but this book was literally inhaled, and a very good read.
- Dystopian: In a not too futuristic culture where it is quite normal for a brain has been erased, Kyla has to relearn everything over again from scratch. Only she remembers snippets… and she just won’t back down… feisty must reads… could not put these down.
- Dragon Saga: If you haven’t read Eragon and the following saga… then book yourself off a weekend and dive in. Great fat books that you have to read in a sitting… compelling don’t begin to describe them. I have no words, other than read them!!!
- True Love in France: I read these books because I already followed the authors blog and loved her writing… Seriously you can’t go wrong with a love story in France, for older readers, but there isn’t anything untoward. There is a twist of course… the heroine is sweet and lovely and swept off her feet and the hero… a time traveller, from a long line of immortals who fight against good and evil through the ages and slip in and out of our reality with ease. These are just fun reads… with adventure for adventure seekers, with a spattering of history, and of course romance for the intrepid romantics.
- Survival: These books aren’t for everyone… but they are a fast and furious read. I read them myself to see what they hype was all about… a vicious, cruel world that the more sensitive reader might not want to venture into… but they are gripping. You so want Katniss to make it through all the trials and tribulations.
- Time Travel: Well spies and mystery and adventure… with time travelling thrown in and written by one of the most gripping young adult writers, clearly a series that is a winner.
- Spies, Spies, Spies: Anthony Horowitz is so good… you just can’t go wrong.
- Spies: Robert Muchamore and his teen spy series, Cherub… British Intelligence with “innocent” looking teens as the heroes… there are tons of these and the second series has begun…
- Reality TV: This book is about a reality tv show… it is also packed with heaps of issues that teens encounter, no such thing as a uncomplicated competitor. This isn’t for tweens and younger teens, a book that raises heaps of issues like eating disorders, self harm, drugs and so on, it is a good opener for lots of discussion. By Robert Muchamore has to be a pretty good read.
- And a Classic: Never forget the classics… really really great reading that has stood the test of time.
We could go on and on… one of those open ended posts that should be revisited and updated from time to time… because new books keep on getting published and new books continue to emerge as firm favourites. The point is, don’t discount the teen section of your local bookstore… it is packed with really good reads… linger a little, you are sure to find something brilliant that you won’t be able to put down.