Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I'm Reading: Popular YA Books

It's the final week of my class and our theme this week is "What Teens are Reading Now" - while the obvious answers are Fault in Our Stars and Divergent, I figured I'd try to delve a little deeper to get some ideas for my recommendations this week. I also solicited two of our teenage babysitters so it will be interesting to see how their recommendations align (or not!) with what I find on my own.

Two great lists that helped me this week were Mashable's 12 YA Books for Your 2014 Summer Reading List and Teen Vogue's The 15 Most Exciting YA Books Coming Out This Year (don't judge...I actually found the Teen Vogue list to be a pretty thorough and thoughtful one...who knew?).

I predict I'll be reading much more YA in the coming months...there are so many books that I have come across that I can't wait to dive into!

The Here and Now
Ann Brashares, Delacorte Press, 2014

I was really happy to see a new offering from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' author Brashares, taking a foray into dystopia with her latest. The Here and Now features a time-traveling family, returning to the 2010s from the 2090s, on their quest to save the world from an environmental disaster. Skewing a bit younger than others in this category, this is a nice recommendation for middle school students who are interested in, but maybe not yet ready for, some of the other popular dystopian series. 

If I Stay/Where She Went
Gayle Forman, Speak, 2014 (box set)

Perhaps this is cheating, since I recommended the Just One Day/Just One Year two-fer in an earlier post, but I just love Forman's writing. I also love the dual perspective thing she has going - less of a commitment than adopting an entire series, but an opportunity to dive in deeper (and get more time with) characters that are well-developed and interesting with thoughtful, fast-paced storytelling. Although these are not new books - written in 2010 and 2012 - new packaging and an upcoming movie for If I Stay has these all over my local bookstore.

The Maze Runner
James Dashner, Delacorte Press, 2010

Also in the category of not-new but gaining in popularity due to upcoming motion picture, the first in this series is a perfect complement to fans of Hunger Games and Divergent. Readers will immediately be drawn into Thomas' life in the dystopian society "The Glade" and the impenetrable maze that surrounds it. Also a good choice for a slightly younger audience (middle school and up), the four books in this series will keep the interest of most sci-fi/fantasy fans. 

Dorothy Must Die
Danielle Paige, HarperCollins, 2014

A an awesome twist on the classic Wizard of Oz tale, featuring Amy Gumm, the "other" girl from Kansas. As she finds herself transported to Oz, she realizes that Dorothy has let fame get to her head, and the only solution is to work with the Wicked Witches to bring the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, and ultimately, Dorothy, down, once and for all. Part action, part horror, with a dash of self-discovery thrown in, this is a clever and fun ride.

Sara Benincasa, HarperTeen, 2014

Another twist on a classic tome, this time the Great Gatsby, and more a retelling than a derivative work. Set in the Hamptons, each of the original Gatsby characters has been recast as a teen, and the story is alive with drama. Perhaps not the highest-brow of the choices here, but it works as guilty pleasure reading (with at least some literary merit), for those who are fans of the Gossip Girl-type stories.

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