We Love YA: Michelle

In We love YA!, a fellow YA-lover is featured and is asked to answer the following questions: Why do you love YA? What are some of your favorite YA books? What can you say to encourage other people to read YA? At end of which, readers are requested to recommend books based on the featured person’s answers.

One of the reasons why I love blogging is I get to meet such lovely readers. Today, I have here a good friend of mine, who I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the blogosphere. Please give a warm welcome to Michelle of See Michelle Read. Michelle was a former librarian and I guess that’s where she gets her talent for recommending books. I was very flattered when Michelle started commenting on my early posts (even when they were still in LJ) and I’ve gotten some pretty great recommendations from her. I read all her posts and I even comment on most of them! If you’re into YA and fantasy like I am, I highly recommend that you go over Michelle’s blog and check out her reviews.

Why do you love YA?
Truth be told, I wasn’t much of a YA reader as a teenager. Like many teens (at least those who grew up before the current YA explosion), I moved immediately from The Baby-Sitters Club chapter books straight to The Lord of the Rings and The Bourne Identity series. Not a bad jump, but it still left me missing out on quite a lot to be sure. I do often wish some kindly librarian would have stopped me during one of my many library rambles to point out some treasures like Alanna or The Dark is Rising or even The Changeover.

But luckily, I’m now making up for lost time. See, I’m no longer a teenager, but one of the reasons I always make a beeline for the YA section in any bookstores is this: YA books are intense by nature. I simply don’t think there is any other genre that captures the awkward newness that permeates every particle of your life as it does when you are a teenager. I particularly enjoy reading about teens who are dealing with complicated relationships. Relationships with their family, with their friends, and especially with the opposite sex. This aspect could also be stretched to include a protagonist’s struggle to establish a relationship with their own self.

Basically when they are confronted with tough situations that force them to make a choice that is neither black nor white and one that they can only decide for themselves – no matter how hard it may be.

Above all, I love those YA books that contain clever dialogue and witty observances on life and those around them. I love that change is a necessary part of every teenager’s existence and I am ever so grateful to those authors who are able to capture it in seemingly effortless ways.

What are some of your favorite books/series/authors?
Whew. This is going to be a hefty list. My favorite books (whatever the genre) tend to include characters that are complex, intelligent and driven by some larger purpose. I cannot tell you how much I love it when a book is able to catch me by surprise. And I’m not just talking about plot-revelations-surprise but also in terms of character growth and development. Also, if it has any references to Russia I’m probably going to love it.

Contemporary Fiction:
The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty
The President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fantasy:
The Demon’s Lexicon, The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Fairy-Tale Retellings:
Beauty by Robin McKinley

Historical Fiction:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Dystopian Fiction:
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

What can you say to encourage other people to read YA?
If you haven’t read a YA book yet, why not? This truly is a genre with something for everyone, no matter your reading preferences. There are countless superbly written fantasy, contemporary, dystopian, and even humor books to tempt even the pickiest readers. And if you are worried about any stigma being attached to reading YA, don’t be. No one should be able to pick which books you like or dislike. If you start something and it’s not what you are looking for, put it down and go find something else. There are simply too many amazing and memorable novels available to waste your time on something you don’t enjoy. That said, don’t be afraid to give something new a chance too. Because after all, isn’t part of being a teenager all about trying new things for the very first time?

________________________________________________________________

Thank you for your wonderful answers, Michelle! I agree with you on the intensity that can be found in YA novels. I also feel like I’m making up for lost time when it comes to YA books. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back in time and recommend some of our favorite YA books to our younger self?

I love your list of favorites, by the way. There are a lot of familiar titles in there and those that aren’t familiar will be added to my wishlist. Now on to recommendations, I think it’s hard for me to recommend books that you haven’t read because you’ve read so many. So I checked Goodreads and it seems like you haven’t read Elizabeth E. Wein’s books and I’d love to know what you think of them. I started with The Sunbird and followed that up with the Mark of Solomon duology: The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom. I’m curious if you’ll like the main character, Telemakos, as much as I did.

Since you also enjoy humor in books, I recommend the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud: The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate because I find Bartimaeus pretty hilarious. I also love Garth Nix’ Abhorsen Trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and I have a feeling you might like his particular brand of fantasy as well.

For contemporary fiction, I know you’ve read Jellicoe Road and I wonder if you’ll also like Melina Marchetta’s other books, Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi? Also, I’m not sure if you’ve given the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty a try. It starts with Sloppy Firsts and the male protagonist in that one is one of my fictional crushes (I ♥ Marcus Flutie). You also know how much I enjoyed reading The Sky is Everywhere so I’m throwing out that suggestion too.

Okay, I think that’s it. I’m out of suggestions. What about you, dear readers, what are your recommendations for Michelle? πŸ™‚

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20 thoughts on “We Love YA: Michelle

  1. I agree that there is definitely something for everyone in YA. It’s one of the things I love most about these books.

    Great post!

    There’s also nothing wrong with making up for lost time, I’m right there with you on that one.

    • Yes, I agree with you that there’s something for everyone in YA. There are just so many great YA books out there that I feel like I’ll be making up for lost time for the rest of my life. LOL that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  2. Very thoughtful post, Michelle. I heartily agree. And I’m so glad you’ve discovered YA in recent years. It’s such a gold mine right now, I think.

    As for recommendations go, I’m gonna give a shout-out to Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark trilogy. You’ve heard me mention them before but I just really think you’d love them. Reading order: WESTMARK, THE KESTREL, and THE BEGGAR QUEEN.

    • Gold mine perfectly describes the genre now. Hey, I still haven’t read the Westmark trilogy but I’ve heard good things about it. I know the recommendation is supposed to be for Michelle but I’m putting that on my wishlist. πŸ™‚

  3. I love this post and agree YA has something for everyone πŸ™‚

    My fave YA authors are Jaclyn Moriarty, Melina Marchetta and Elizabeth Scott has some great books too πŸ™‚

    x

    • I love Melina Marchetta! Michelle has been urging me to read Jaclyn Moriarty and I just finished The Year of Secret Assignments and I really liked it. πŸ™‚ I look forward to reading more of her books. Haven’t read any of Elizabeth Scott’s books though.

  4. Very nice answers! I feel the same way – trying to make up for lost time because I missed out on so many great YA books.

    I was going to suggest Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series as that was the first thing that came to mind while reading Michelle’s answers, but you beat me to it Chachic.:D I also found the Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison to be quite funny.:D

    • This just goes to show that we like the same books. πŸ˜› We thought of the same recommendation for Michelle. Oh yeah, the Georgia Nicholson series is pretty funny! I remember borrowing those books from my friend.

  5. Michelle and Chachic, I love YA characters, too. Sometimes I just connect to them better than adults.

    I second the THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE recommendation. I think Michelle would love the quirky characters and the family and boy relationships. And also (although I’ve said this before) THE PERILOUS GARD, for the faerie-lover and historical fiction fan in her. πŸ˜€

  6. “when a book is able to catch me by surprise”: I love it too and for the very same reasons, it’s not just the plot it’s the aura that some books create.
    I recommend a book that it’s ya even if it hasn’t been labeled this way: The Lost Art of Keeping Secret by Eva Rice and A certain slant of light by Laura Whitcomb

    • Yes, I love it when something unexpected happens in a book that I’m reading.

      Haven’t heard of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets but I’ll look into it and I’m already planning to read A Certain Slant of Light πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recommendations! I now they’re for Michelle but I’m still taking note.

  7. hi, chachic. great conversations earlier. i recommend these trilogies, published when YA as a label was just a soundbyte in some maverick book agent’s dreams. these books are so good they deserve a second chance in this YA-loving times.

    1. Secret Country by Pamela Dean
    http://www.shelfari.com/series/The-Secret-Country-Trilogy

    For years, four kids had been playing a game they call the Secret Country. Then the unbelievable happens: they find themselves in the Secret Country, their made-up identities now real. They have arrived at the start of their game, with the Country on the edge of war. What was once exciting and wonderful now looms threateningly before them, and no one is sure how to stop it . . . or if they will ever get back home.

    2. The Tredana Trilogy by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0441080995/shelfari-20

    A young girl falls into another world when she enters an abandoned house. The first book, Castledown, follows her adventures a little girl. The sequels see her returned to the other world as young woman and then as a mature woman in her 30s. This YA eschews the wariness many YAs have for dark and complex themes. The young prince is not always the destined true love.

    3. Prospero’s Children by Jan Siegel
    http://artseblis.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/prosperos-children-by-jan-siegel/

    Lost Atlantis is the former homeland of the mystically minded kind that 16-year-old Fern Capel and her younger brother, Will, encounter when they move to an inherited family house in the Yorkshire countryside. Left to themselves by their loving but oblivious dad, they soon discover that their home is a magnet for sorceresses, shapeshifters, unicorns and god-possessed vessels, all of whom survived the island’s cataclysmic collapse into the sea eons before and are drawn by a potent Atlantean talisman–a magic key that unlocks the door between life and death–kept hidden on the premises.

    • LOL it’s funny that you had to separate your list of urban fantasy recommendations from the list of YA recommendations. I had a lot of fun talking to you yesterday, Michelle! I’m glad we got to meet in person and talk nonstop about books. I’ll check out these books that you mentioned and add them to my ever-increasing wishlist. I hope I can find some of these in used bookstores! πŸ™‚ Thanks again for the recommendations.

  8. Thanks everyone for all the recommendations! Thanks to you all I think I’ve added a good 10-20 inches to my TBR pile. πŸ˜‰ I had so much fun with this feature Chachic, thanks again for inviting me to stop by!

Comments are like chocolate. :) Maraming salamat / thank you! I try my best to reply to all the comments on my blog.

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