It's no secret that I'm a big book lover! Young adult fiction is by far my favorite, mainly because I love a good coming-of-age story. Sadly, I got away from reading after Peanut was born, and I still really struggle with making time for it. It's hard when free time comes only when Sparklegirl is asleep! But, I am working on how to remedy that, so in the meantime, here are some books I recommend...
1. Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras
Turning 16 marks the day you undergo a mandatory operation that turns you from a tricky Ugly into a bubbly Pretty. Tally can't wait for her operation, but then she begins to learn a little more about the world she lives in. There's way more going on underneath the surface, with some especially disturbing government involvement.
Scott Westerfeld's writing is just amazing. He really has a knack for creating a unique brand of language in each of his books. It's subtle, kind of like the difference in local language that you find in Maine vs. Georgia. That technique, on top of incredibly well-detailed imagery make his words really come alive from the page. He's my favorite author, and I've loved everything I've read that he's written.
2. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire
I've yet to read the last in this series, City of Heavenly Fire. Part of me isn't ready to read it yet, because I don't want it to end, the other part is because I haven't had the time. But that works out well, because I couldn't spoil the ending for you if I tried!
What interested me about this series before reading it, was the unique take on the monster/demon problem. After the popularity of Harry Potter and Twilight, there was a definite rise in wizard/vampire/werewolf fiction, especially in the Young Adult arena. The main characters in the Mortal Instruments series are actually Shadow Hunters... humans born with angel blood in their veins. They are tasked with protecting humanity from demons. The series has a good representation of a lot of the usual suspects with vampires, werewolves, faeires, and warlocks as Downworlders.
The Mortal Instruments feel like a more realistic take on what life would be like if fantasy and fairy-tale creatures actually existed in today's world. You get the magical powers, superhuman abilities, and young love, but mixed with a little grit and realism.
3. The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption
This series is set in the American South, and tells the story of a boy named Ethan Wate who falls in love with Lena Duchannes. Lena's a caster, and there's a curse on her family. On her 16th birthday, she'll be claimed as a light or dark caster. She's terrified of "going dark" like her cousin Ridley, who, before being claimed, was Lena's best friend.
The plot of this series alone made me want to read it, but what really sets it apart is the setting. Garcia and Stohl paint a vivid picture of the southern United States. It's got a really cool mix of voodoo, magic, and life in a really small town.
4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
This book tackled the daunting task of linking historical accounts of Vlad the Impaler with the mysterious legend of Dracula. The result is an amazing tale that really pulls you in and doesn't let you go so easily after it's over. There's a little bit of everything here, history, horror, mystery, and suspense. It's a great read. It's long... but so definitely worth it.
5. The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, The Diamond of Darkhold
Far underground lies the city of Ember. It was built as humanity's last refuge two hundred years prior to the start of the first book. When power in the city begins to fail, and supplies start to run short, a young girl named Lina might be the only hope of a people who have forgotten the ways of the old world.
I don't want to spoil too much about the series here, so I don't feel I can say too much more in detail about the plot. This is one of those series that has stayed with me long after I read it. I can't remember when I picked it up, but I devoured all 4 books while I was really sick over the course of 4 days in 2009. Maybe it was the back-to-back reading of it? I'm not sure, but I've always been fascinated with the idea that our world could suffer another "dark age" or a time where we lose basic knowledge over time because of depending on technology. It seriously fascinates me. These were a quick read, like I said. When I wasn't sleeping during those 4 days, I was eating popsicles and reading this series.
So there you have it... these are just the standouts in my favorite books, which all happen to come in series form. It's so rare to find a standalone book anymore, but I did get one in there. Think of this list as an added bonus... 19 for the price of 5! Now if only they could sell them that way!!!