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 perks of having a book blog is you get to connect with people from all over the world. I mean look at me, I’m from the Philippines. I think it’s amazing to find a person from another corner of the globe who likes the same books that I do. This is how I met Emily of Emily and her Little Pink Notes, she’s an Italian living in Dublin. I can’t remember how I found out about her blog but I do remember that it was because she loved Marcus Flutie of Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series that I decided to follow her. Since then, I’ve discovered that we like reading a lot of the same books and it’s been so much fun interacting with her online. Let’s all give Emily a warm welcome!
Why do you love YA?
“Sometimes you met someone that changed the pattern, who wormed their way past the cracks in your heart, caulked them up, sealed themselves in, and stayed there. Sometimes they did it by insisting you meet them at every step…” (Tap and Gown, Diana Peterfreund)
Those few lines describe the sort of reader I am, I don’t think about myself as a YA reader. I love reading, I love when a book is able to create all sort of emotions within me. I love when a book insists on my attention, slowly gets under my skin and becomes mine.
I like feisty heroines, human failures, sweet awkward characters, duplicity, clever dialogues, humour, rebellion, rock music, poetry, principles of love. I crave adventure.
Coming-of-age stories deal with existential issues and feelings that stay with us forever. I am thinking of that song by the Undertones “Teenage Kicks” (Are teenage dreams so hard to beat/ Every time she walks down the street/ Another girl in the neighbourhood/ Wish she was mine, she looks so good/ I wanna hold you wanna hold you tight/ Get teenage kicks right through the night).
Teenage dreams are hard to beat, what I am supposed to exchange them with? I reached a point in my life in which I am surrounded by people concerned about apartments, cars, material evidences of dubious achievements. YA characters are kindred spirits, at least some of them are.
Every time I enter a bookshop I go straight to the YA bookshelf because I know that lots of brilliant books are labeled that way. If the publishing industry needs to put label on things it’s fine by me, as a reader I would advise to experiment all sort of genres because most of the time what makes a memorable read it’s the writer’s ability not the genre, the plot or our expectations.
What are some of your favorite books/series/authors?
Contemporary Fiction: It all started with Diary of A Crush by Sarra Manning (a British YA writer), I was hooked on Edie and Dylan’s story so I highly recommend those three books especially if you are 16 and able to enjoy their full potential. I adored the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. I recently discovered Diana Peterfreund and her Secret Society Girl series, I can’t recommend tit highly enough.
Other favourites of mine: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (I also really liked Looking for Alibrandi), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (it hasn’t been labeled as YA but it fits right into the category). Plus I would like to mention Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and This Side of Paradise by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, they are beautiful coming-of-age stories, two of my favorites.
When it comes to fantasy I grew up reading Tolkien (I read them all: The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Silmarillion) and Michael Ende (Momo, The Neverending Story), then I got really into Harry Potter, I read those books more than once, they are perfect for all ages.
I also want to mention Pullman, His Dark Materials Trilogy is a masterpiece. Recently, I loved Graceling by Kristin Cashore and I am currently in the middle of The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, those books are fantastic, well-written, engaging, fun. A few months ago I read The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and I fell in love with Harry, I like smart brave heroines and Harry is memorable. I pre-ordered Mockingjay and I can’t wait to see what happens in Katniss’ world.
What can you say to encourage other people to read YA?
I think the answer to this question lies within my blog. I try to write reviews that discuss the actual book but also let people into my world, I suppose this way fellow bloggers can understand if we have something in common and try one of my “picks”.
My friends know who I am, what I like, what I despise, where we agree and where we disagree, I have already succeeded in forcing most of them to pick up a YA book (Suzanne Collins is being incredibly successful).
Teenage dreams are hard to beat, what I am supposed to exchange them with? -> Love that line! Thank you so much for doing this, Emily! I get your point about being able to relate more to YA characters than the people around you. Some of my favorite characters feel like they’re old friends. 🙂 You mentioned some of my favorite books in your list and I’m putting up the ones that I haven’t read in my wishlist.
Now, on to my recommendations. For fantasy, I have a feeling you’ll like Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith – the main character is an impoverished countess who tries to organize a revolution. Also, I’d love for you to give Tamora Pierce’s books a try. All of her books have strong female protagonists. You can start with Alanna: The First Adventure, the first in the Song of the Lioness series – which is about a girl who pretends to be boy to train in knighthood. Since you seem to be enjoying Megan Whalen Turner’s books, I’d like to recommend Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones since Howl and Gen are surprisingly similar.
For YA contemporary fiction, I recommend The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I really liked both of these. I’m not sure where A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb falls under but I highly recommend that as well. I believe all three are debut novels and I’m excited to see what these authors will write next.
For historical fiction, I’d love to know what you think of Eva Ibbotson’s YA books – A Countess Below Stairs, A Company of Swans, A Song for Summer, The Morning Gift and The Reluctant Heiress.
What about you, dear readers, what do you think of Emily’s answers and what are some of your recommendations for her? 🙂