Discovering new books can be a tricky business. Especially with how many books are being published these days and with how varied the book community is. Some of us like to follow the hype, some of us rely on the newspaper reviews, and some of us trust only the closest of friends. And so, in today’s Top Ten Tuesday, I bring you the top five Young Adult recommendations that I myself discovered through other people and that instantly became some of my all-time favourites. It is only natural that I would want you to discover them too!
5. Eona series by Allison Goodman
Admittedly, I first fell in love with the cover. (Can you blame me? I mean, look at it.) Then, I saw words dragons and gender-bending. And a promise of a magical Asian-esque world. What more could I possibly want?
“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life.”
Eona has it all: a strong heroine, a complex romance, an interesting villain, a struggle for power, a dash of court intrigue, a world built around fascinating mythology, and much dragon magic. All wrapped neatly in an epic fantasy plot. Plus, a gorgeous cover. Do judge.
4. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
About a year into my university life, I encountered the biggest reading slump of my life. I just didn’t want to read. But I also felt bad about it. Saving Francesca had been on my shelves for a while, mostly because everyone I know has read and loved it. And I am apparently very easily persuaded.
So I picked it up. And after months of not touching a single book outside of required reading, I spent an entire day cuddled under blankets with this wonderful, beautiful book.
“I can’t believe I said it out loud. The truth doesn’t set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defenseless and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don’t feel free. I feel like shit.”
Saving Francesca has everything I’m looking for in stories, especially in YA contemporary: family problems and family bonds, beautiful friendships, girls and boys being girls and boys, a tiny bit of romance, and the journey of finding who you are and whom you want to be. It is a book I know I will be picking up whenever I want to burrow in a mountain of pillows and read something that will make me cry and smile and laugh and just feel. It’s simply fantastic.
3. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
These days, fairy tale retellings can be found around every corner. Which is great because duh, fairy tales. However… How many of those are about cyborgs? And space? And evil queens? AND THE MOON KINGDOM?! Honestly, it’s like Sailor Moon, except, you know, without the mini skirts and the sparkles.
“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”
What I love best about this series, is how it twists the dearly beloved tales and ties them into a big beautiful magical plot. It has futuristic cyborgs and incurable diseases, advanced technology and terrifying magic, princesses flying ships in the space. Do I even need to say more?
2. The Duff by Cody Keplinger
The DUFF sounds like the typical romcom you might pick on Netflix on days when you just want chocolate and the comfort of your bed. It has the popular girls, the pretty boy and the main character who is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or the duff. But here comes the plot twist: it is not.
“Spanish, huh?” he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. “Can you say anything interesting?”
“El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme.” I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
“That sounds sexy,” he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he’d swept together. “What’s it mean?”
“The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself.”
Sure, there is comedy and there is romance. And sure, the girls can be mean and the boy is a shameless womaniser. But there is also Bianca. Her cynical and sarcastic narration turns this book from a cute light contemporary romance into something more realistic and real. Through her narrow-minded point of view, she manages to explore the universal basics of female relationships with both males and other females. And she does it in such a way that makes it so easy to relate to. Bianca may not be the most likeable narrator, but she sure is interesting.
1. Heist Society series by Ally Carter
Thieves. Ocean’s Eleven kind of thieves, in teenage format. Flying across the world on a private jet and pulling off impossible heists. Honestly? This one didn’t need much selling at all. Even if it was across every booktube channel, back in the day.
I had high expectations. Very high expectations. And I blame everything on all those raving reviews. But oh, they had nothing on the actual book. It is simply delightful. Marvellous. Magnificent.
“I wouldn’t mind meeting a dashing thief,” the woman’s friend whispered. Hale winked at Kat.
Kat raised her eyebrows and whispered, “I’d like to meet one of those, too.”
So much sass between such lovely friends. As well as the incredible tenderness and love and development hidden inside light humorous prose. The dialogue is to die for. The characters are most precious. While the heists make me wonder just what kind of knowledge does the author have and more importantly, how did she acquire it.
(Pro tip: after a generous serving of this delicious treat, go pick Gallagher Girls as well and have yourself a second dessert. It’s very tasty.)
And that’s it for my top five young adult recommendations! Of course, I could add a lot more to this list. Indeed, 90% of the books on my shelves were discovered thanks to someone or something else, be it a very convincing booktube video or two Tumblr tags accidentally overlapping¹. But life is a struggle and one must always choose.
Which books would you choose as your young adult recommendations that you yourself were convinced to read? And how easily are you convinced in the first place?
¹ Those good old days when Tumblr part of TRC fandom was anxiously waiting for The Raven King by Stiefvater, but got occasional Raven King from All For The game by Sakavic. Good days, good days. Curiosity totally killed me, even though I’m not a cat.