[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]
I am a massive bookworm, I absolutely love reading and have a slight book-buying problem. Some of my favourite books come from the young adult genre – books that are aimed at teenagers, mainly because the genre is so diverse and captures so much great literature from fantasy to contemporary to dystopia and everything in-between. So here are my top five favourite young adult novels that truly show the range and quality of YA fiction:
1. The Diviners by Libba Bray
Blurb from Goodreads:
“Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.”
Set in 1920’s New York, The Diviners follows Evie, who has been sent to New York after an incident at a party. She is after a good time, is supremely selfish, and always has a witty comeback. Unfortunately, strange murders start to occur in the big apple, and Evie and her Uncle Will (who runs a paranormal museum) assist the police in their investigations. However, murders are not the only mystery that needs to be solved, there is a dark paranormal presence stalking New York.
Libra Bray has captured the essence of the twenties perfectly. There is definitely a Gatsby feeling to the book, and the incredible amount of detail completely submerges the reader into the city, the time period and the story. The plot itself is fast paced, and the mystery is intriguing and increasingly intense as the book draws to a close.
2. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Blurb from Goodreads:
“Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.”
This is a thoroughly original take on books about dragons. It is beautifully written, the world building is exquisite and the plot is unique. Seraphina, our main character, is a clever but guarded musician in the royal court drawn into a murder plot that may involve dragons. Seraphina was unpredictable, action packed and the twists are unexpected throughout. Dragons are done so much in fantasy, but with Seraphina they feel revitalised and fresh, and the mythology surrounding them is so lovingly crafted and detailed. This is a great read for those who love original, clever fantasy novels with great world-building and a character-focused plot.
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Blurb from Goodreads:
“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.”
If you haven’t read any of John Greens books, they are synonymous with perfectly capturing teenage angst in a meaningful way, and The Fault in Our Stars is no exception. It follows the relationship between Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers that are suffering with cancer. You are definitely going to need tissues whilst reading this book, it is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. John Green writes beautifully, and his characters are fully realised and three dimensional. This book is a gorgeous read, and was recently turned into a movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, so if you want to cry you eyes out for a second time, I’d definitely recommend watching it after you’ve read the book.
4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Blurb from Goodreads:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”
This book is the epitome of whimsy and magic. Erin Morgenstern’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. Her descriptions of the circus tents is breathtakingly detailed, as is the magic that both Celia and Marco perform. We float between different times, sometimes focusing on Marco and Celia, sometimes on Bailey, a small boy who lives an unfulfilled life on a apple farm, sometimes on different members of the circus. This adds to the dreamlike quality that The Night Circus has. The characters are equally magical. Celia is trained by her cruel father, Prospero to control her natural magical abilities. Marco is plucked from a school by a man in a grey suit and is taught to study his craft. Although not a nail-biting plot, it is nevertheless interesting and exciting and the strength of the prose and character building carries the book through. This is a great read for fans of classics, such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz – it has that same dreamy magical quality to it.
5. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Blurb from Goodreads:
“Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?”
The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in a dystopian, science fiction trilogy and it is one of the best opening books I have ever read. Set in a new world, with new creatures and new challenges, Patrick Ness does a great job of immersing the reader into this world, as well as introducing our man character, Todd. This book is absolutely incredible, and is un-put-down-able. The plot is fast paced, interesting and not bogged down in meaningless information. The characters and their relationships develop so believably, and the intensity of the situation Todd finds himself in is transmitted to the reader in such a great way – I felt so nervous for him as I reached the end of this book. Definitely a thrilling read, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games or Divergent.
So those are my top five favourite young adult novels. I hope you are inspired to go pick a few of these excellent books up next time you’re craving something new to read.
Have you read any of these books? What are your favourite YA novels? Let us know on Twitter @TridentMedia or on Facebook.com/TridentMediaUK!