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?