Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Class Is In Session: YA Wish List

Reading Song of the Day: "School" by Nirvana

So, me and Pam's career goals as of late have consisted of two things:

1.) Teach Creative Writing (on a post-secondary level)
2.) Teach a YA Literature course

With it being so close to back to school time *crying on the inside*, we thought we'd have a little fun with our career option # 2.

What would we do if we could create the perfect YA reading list for a course all about young adult literature?

You wanna know the answer????

Good! 'Cause we wanna tell you!!! If we could choose the best books to represent all of the major YA sub genres, here is what our syllabus would consist of:


Looking for Alaska by John Green


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Face it, you can't have a YA literature course without including these two masters of young adult novels. Both books represent real raw, teen emotion. The stories last with the reader and the voices are distinct and believable. That's the key to a great contemporary realistic novel.


Judy Blundell's historical is set after World War Two, but that's not the focus. This novel could resonate with anyone during any time period. A good historical should put you in the time period, which Blundell does with her slang, her settings, her character's mannerisms etc. but the story itself should be timeless.


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This novel takes any idea you have about paranormal books and turns it on its head! It has non stop action, a believable romance, and the characters, both human and supernatural, are relatable. Perfecto!


Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare was thisclose to being on the list, but we have heard so many people rave about Leviathan and how it is possibly the quintessential steampunk YA novel. Alas, we have yet to read it (it's in my bookshelf, waiting to be read...) but after hearing so many people rave about how great it is, we kinda can't wait.


Divergent by Veronica Roth

Most readers expect a dystopian to excite them and take them to a world so unlike their own. Divergent does this and more. The dystopian element is unique, with teens having to choose where they will grow up and get jobs based on a simulated test, but the dystopian element is not what keeps the reader interested in the story. The vivid characters and relationships do. A MUST read!

Magical Realism:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Magical realism is basically when you have a contemporary and realistic setting, but something unrealistic occurs in this world, yet the reader doesn't feel like it's magic. Lauren Oliver does this perfectly with this novel. The main character re-lives one day over and over, but we still feel like everything that happens to her is so real.


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Obviously we all know what makes a good romance novel. Believable romance. And Perkins creates just that with this novel. Not only do we get to see the relationship build over time, but we are rewarded for our wait in the end!

Post Apocalyptic:

These novels are fun because we hope they never happen in real life. Especially Ryan's novel about a zombie apocalypse! Ryan hooks the reader with an interesting love square, conflict and turmoil at every turn, and of course hope. The perfect formula for perfect post apocalyptic.

Novel in Verse:

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

The mother of verse novels! There's not much to be said, except how in the world did this woman create a story using poetry?

Science Fiction:

Feed by M.T. Anderson

This is a novel about the future where people have a feed of technology into their heads. How much more science fiction-y can you get? Plus, this book is just full of pure genius. Wouldn't we all love to know what he was thinking when he wrote it?


The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

This is the new "thing" in YA. Most agents are itching for some horror and thriller, and Smith's novel really delivers. The story of a kidnapped boy going through hurdles to get away from his captor is enticing, nail biting, and gut wrenching. Classic horror/thriller.

Okay, who wouldn't LOVE to be in this class??? Of course, we are mere mortals (or so you all think) with humble opinions. We would love to hear what you think should be added (or replaced) on our YA Literature course wish list. Best answer gets an "A"!


Alicia Gregoire said...

I think this is a great list of recent YA titles, but if you're going to go for a true master list, you should also include some of the following:

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Dystopian)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Sci Fi)

I know there's more, but the coffee hasn't hit yet.

Karen Strong said...

This is an awesome list. I would sign up for this class.

The first thing that came to my mind was His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman -- it would probably be fit steampunk and/or fantasy genre maybe.

A.J. Mullarky said...

Wow, this was fun to read! All very good ideas. Mind if I borrow this topic for my blog tomorrow? *biggrin*

Sarah Nicolas said...

I'm going to second THE GIVER.

I think HUNGER GAMES would be a great addition. and UNWIND by Neal Shusterman could definitely result in some great conversation.

Jess said...

I would definitely take this class. I'd have to warn you, though: I would not shut up when we discussed the Leviathan books. They are seriously my favs. :)

Jessica Love said...

Great list! I'd want to find some way to squeeze The Sky Is Everywhere in there, too.

And I agree, some classics would be great. The Chocolate War, for example.

Angela Felsted said...

Wow! You're one well-read person.

Ron Smith said...

Wow, great list. MT Anderson's Octavian Nothing series would be great too, just to show people that YA can take so many forms.

This is a fantastic blog you have here!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Good choices! When I took a YA lit class in my MFA program, we read Looking for Alaska, Speak and Feed, among others. :)