Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Y is YA Fiction

Y is for YA Fiction:  young adult fiction is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents between the ages of twelve and eighteen.  (Wikipedia)

I don’t read a lot of YA, but the first book I ever remember reading, the one that turned me onto literature in the first place, was YA.  I read it at the age of fourteen as a freshman in high school.  It was S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.  That’s the first time I remember falling in love with a character—Pony Boy Curtis— and crying at words on the page—when Johnny died.  Afterwards, I gobbled the remaining two books in the series, That Was Then, This Is Now and Rumble Fish, in a matter of days.  But that was the end of my love affair with YA.  From that point, I turned to—don’t judge me now—historical romance. 

Looking back, I don’t know why I read those bodice rippers, and it didn’t last long before I converted to my one true love, the adult thriller.  But then came the Twilight series.  I remember a few years back scrounging through Powell’s Books in Portland and seeing it on a table and remembering there was a lot of hype about it.  It really didn’t interest me, but I wanted to know what all the hubbub was about, so I bought it.  And I really liked it.  So I bought the rest.  And I liked them, too. 

Yeah, I know.  Say what you will about the writing, but at the time, when I knew nothing about the craft, I really enjoyed those books.  I’ve tried to pick them up and read them since.  No dice this time.  Just can’t stomach it.  But since then, since I wrote my own novel and became a blogger, I’ve met a great many writers, most of whom write YA.  So it’s no accident that I’ve picked up a few YA novels along the way, most of which have been recommendations touted on popular blogs.

Stolen was the first one I read in a very long time, and I really liked it even though it was written in second person.  Then came Divergent and my first taste of dystopia.  Yeah, I didn’t really like that one too much.  The whole book felt like backstory, like it was just a setup for the next book.  After that, I read Hate List and I loved it!  So I tried Shatter Me next, another dystopian.  This book almost ruined me for all YA.  I can’t tell you how much it bothered me:  the overly grating melodramatic voice, and, once again, that it read like backstory, another setup for the second book in a series.  Only in YA can you get away with that.

I was a bit reluctant to try YA again after that, but I picked up Everneath, and I am so glad I did.  That book was a joy to read.  Then I tried Shine, but found it too slow.  I recently started The Dust of 100 Dogs, but I’ve been distracted by other books, most notably The Hunger Games, another dystopian which I ‘m reading now and positively love.  This book shows you can have a dystopian with a female lead and not be whiny or snarky, just strong. 

Overall, I’m finding a groove for popular YA.  I do like the young voices, as long as they’re not too snarky or melodramatic.  Yeah, I know, teenage girls tend to be melodramatic, and they probably love that, but not me.    
So considering all that, do you have any YA books you can recommend to this lover of thrillers?


JeffO said...

I'm on-again, off-again with YA. Like you, I loved the SE Hinton books, but I don't really remember reading a lot of YA when I was 'supposed' to be reading it. I did read a lot of the books my girls were reading through middle school. And, yes, I enjoyed Twilight enough the first time, but by the time I got halfway through the second book I think I'd had enough. I soldiered on through the series, but barely.

Haven't really been reading much YA in a while, though, so no recommendations at this time.

Catherine Stine said...

I don't often sing my own praises, but Fireseed One, my YA futuristic thriller isn't whiny or snarky. It actaully has a male protag, but one of the other main players is Marisa, who is quite the fiesty antag. I am also a professional illustrator, and did nine interior drawings for it. You could take a chance on that!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No, because I haven't really read any books in the genre.

Julie Musil said...

I definitely love some YA stories more than others, and since I write in this genre, I read a lot of it. But I still love political thrillers, mysteries, historical romance, and sorts of other fun books for adults.

I'm currently reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Have you read that one yet? I'm loving it. And I love any book written by Jodi Picoult.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Johnny died??????

Just kidding.

I'm not a stickler for genre. I'll read whatever sounds good to me at the time.

Re: Twilight. It wasn't the writing that turned me off, which had its problems, it was her version of vampires that I hated. I'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to my monsters. Must be an age thing.

If I see something that looks good on the shelf, I'm going to pick it up and give it a shot. Anyone who turns their nose up because it's on one shelf instead of another is missing out.

As for the bodice judgement here. That's what I started out reading too.


1 more letter!

Donna K. Weaver said...

There's so much I love about YA, but the angst issues that are so prevalent do eventually grind a bit, unless the author can provide some really good growth.

L.G.Smith said...

I used to write MG/YA stuff and read a lot more of it then, but I still pick up the books now and then. I'm reading The Scorpio Races right now (still, since I've had no time to read because of this A to Z !!). It's a YA and truly one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Amazing the way she portrays the characters and the romance between them. So good.

Another YA I LOVED was A Northern Light. Literary excellence. :))

The Golden Eagle said...

Well, since you like thrillers, I'd recommend Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill; it was one of my favorite books of 2011. Falls into the YA SF/Thriller/Action categories.

Ricardo Miñana said...

Hello Nancy, beautiful space, passing to say hello, nice to read your text.
if you like the poetry I invite you to my space, thank you.
happy day.

Chuck said...

Not really a YA reader. And truth be told I have read very few books recently. The internet seems to have taken their place in my off-time. On the brigh side, I did just order a Kindle Fire so I predict some reading again in my future.

Kelley Lynn said...

I really like The Darkest Powers Series by Kelley Armstrong. The female MC in those ones is shy/quiet, but not whiny.

I think you'd also like Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Its a Sci-fi Romance, murder mystery kinda thing. VERY strong female lead. Well developed characters.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I never read The Outsiders, but I really liked the movie! I think it was Tom Cruise's debut, and Pony Boy became a great dancer on Dancing With The Stars! The Book Thief is an excellent example of a YA book. Thanks for making A to Z so memorable Nancy! Julie

Lynda R Young said...

It's funny, I read Twilight when I didn't know much about writing and loved it too. I'm afraid to go back and try again, lol.

Even though I write YA, I've grown extremely picky with what I read. There's a lot of rubbish out there at the moment. I'll admit I'm struggling to stay interested in the genre. Eek.

Lisa Regan said...

I don't really read much YA. I like my books dark, gritty and with a lot of profanity! LOL. I don't get the fascination with YA books--makes me feel like adults are simply dissatisfied with adult books. I will read one now if there is a lot of hoopla around it to see what's what but I don't typically read it. The ones I've read in the last year have been quite good though.