Open Thread: What YA do you love, and why?

For reasons, I am looking into YA novels in a new way. Reading them, reading essays about them, looking at trends and favorites and how YA is marketed. Everything, really.

Here’s your chance to tell me (and everyone viewing this) what to read. In the comments below, please tell me your favorite novels, authors, or essays about the craft. There’s only one rule! You must give me at least a hint as to why. If you simply list off titles, that’s nice, but I won’t know what those titles mean to you. I won’t know why I should give them a try. So, if you have work you want to share, please take an extra moment to explain a bit about how it appeals to you.

Thank you.


4 thoughts on “Open Thread: What YA do you love, and why?

  1. The Flora Segunda books by Ysabeau Wilce and the Fairyland books by Cat Valente are among my favorite YA books at the moment. Both authors are masters at using language in interesting ways, neither talks down to their audience, both feature strong female protagonists and steer away from typical gender roles. There’s gorgeous worldbuilding in each, touches of humor, and they’re also fun and fast-paced. For YA horror, I enjoy Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin/Benny Imura series. While they don’t do too much that’s new with the zombie genre, they are a well-written example of the genre. The characters are engaging, and there are some surprisingly emotional moments scattered throughout the series. They’re large(ish) books in hardcover format, but they don’t feel overly long; they’re another group of books that struck me as very well paced.

  2. My favorite YA novels that I first read as an adult are Garth Nix’s Sabriel series, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince, and Sherwood Smith’s Inda series. In all those cases there is fascinating F/SFnal worldbuilding with complex dilemmas and the YA protagonists have believable agency without rendering all the adults dead/oblivious/incompetent.

    I also really adore the Earthsea books, and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising (unless that counts as middle grade?), and Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time, but those are the books I imprinted on as a kid, so I can’t be sure how I would see them now if I were reading them for the first time. I know I was rather disappointed on rereading Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books as an adult, though I still happily recommend them to kids.

  3. I have a lot of favorites, but I keep going back to books by Diana Wynne-Jones, Patricia Wrede and Robin McKinley. I think mostly what I like is that they aren’t bloodbaths, they aren’t depressing, and they have a kind of, I don’t know, optimism? Like there are bad people out there doing bad things, but there are also good people, and they can find happiness despite the bad. They’re sweet without being cloying, and they don’t tend to be sarcastic–at least, not in a mean or demeaning way. They acknowledge the trials of youth without diminishing them, but they’re also hopeful. The opposite of grimdark, I suppose.

  4. Ooh, so many good options, and I agree with a lot of the suggestions made elsewhere in this thread. Phillip Pullman is also an excellent choice; both the Ruby in the Smoke series (Victorian mysteries, opium dens, great characters) and His Dark Materials trilogy (philosophical, gorgeous, heartbreaking at the end but still somehow hopeful)

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