10 Aug 2010

My Top Ten YA

This list was really hard to make for two reasons. The first being that quite a number of my favourite YA are Danish books, which I decided not to include in this list, as it's more fun if you actually know the books I'm talking about ;) The second is that... well, what qualifies as YA? Some are obvious, of course, but others might just as easily be classified as children's books or as books for adults. I've tried to limit myself from taking any that are borderline - keeping the questionably young ones for "Top 10 Childrens Books" which I'm also certain will show up at some point ;)

I decided not to repeat books from my comfort reads list, so that excluded Alanna and Harper's Hall Also, I decided to limit myself to only one book per author.

And as always when I make lists such as these, I have the distinct feeling that I've forgotten some really obvious books, that for some reason chose this moment to completely elude both my memory AND my list at goodreads! Go figure ;) Also, I almost feel like I should only include books I've read more than once, so I know they're actually worth while, and I didn't just get overly excited on my first read-through. I don't reread nearly as much now as I used to though, so I feel like I'd limit myself far too much if I chose to do that. Still, with the exception of two, these are all regular rereads.

Top Ten YA Novels (in no particular order)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling

I wavered between this one and Goblet of Fire - both are good, for very different reasons, but HPPS was more magical in that it was the first of the lot and thus my introduction to the series. I know it has received a lot of flack, but it started out being one of the best series I'd read in a very, very long time. Unfortunately J.K. Rowling couldn't quite perform under pressure, so the later books aren't as good, but the first four were excellent!

The Giver - Lois Lowry

One of those books I'd have to exclude if I only allowed myself to pick rereads, but I have to include this one! I can't rightly explain why, but it blew me away. I loved the universe described and the entire atmosphere of the book. Unfortunately the two companion novels didn't quite live up to my expectations, but this one was amazing! One of the rare books that I borrowed to read and then immediately went out and bought it.

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

I realize the ridicule I'm opening myself to by including this book on my list, but honestly, there have been few YA books that have ever grabbed so completely hold of me, so I would be lying if I didn't mention it... even if it does make me sad that I feel like I have to defend it ;). I'm not claiming it's high literature, and I can see its flaws, but I love it regardless and end up completely disappearing into the universe whenever I read it. I wavered between Twilight, Eclipse and The Host - this one "won" by virtue of being the one I've read the most times and again by being my introduction to a new series/author.

Anne of the Island - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Quite possibly my favourite of the Anne books. She doesn't get into as many embarrassing scrapes as in AoGG, and I love reading about her schooling, and her life at Patty's place. I really need to reread that entire series sometime soon!

First Test - Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is one of my all-time favourite authors, so I couldn't leave her off this list, just because I'd already used Alanna elsewhere. First Test is the first book of my second-favourite series of hers - I've always liked the Tortal ones best. While part of me misses the magic, another part of me is happy to finally see a "normal" heroine, who gets through based on her ingenuity alone.

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld

I greatly enjoy dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels (I tend to use the words interchangably), and thankfully this was no exception. The first one was definitely the best in the series, but actually I enjoyed all of them :) I know many people got frustrated with the vocabulary Scott Westefeld used among the characters ("happy-making", bubbly etc.), but I actually really liked it, and thought it added to the atmosphere.

Sue Barton, Student Nurse - Helen Dore Boylston

This has been one of my favourite series for the past 18 years! I've never wanted to be a doctor or a nurse myself, but I've always been fascinated by descriptions of their lives, and loved reading about Sue's experiences in nursing school. There's no great depth in the series, but it's just comfortable and cozy. Especially the first three books of the series I return to again and again.

Winter of Fire - Sherryl Jordan

Dystopian/fantasy - so basically a mix of my two favourite genres. I was introduced to Sherryl Jordan while living in New Zealand, and was immediately taken by her. I've enjoyed just about everything I've ever read by her, but this and Rocco have always been my two favourites. I like this one just a tad more, as I think the universe is more well-rounded.

Northern Lights - Philip Pullman

(a.k.a. "The Golden Compass") I never really took to the two other books in the series, but this first one blew me away. I vividly remember diving into it one Boxing Day not too many years ago, and not coming up for air until I finished it several hours later. No matter the quality of a book, if it swallows me up like that, I'm bound to love it, and will think of it fondly ever after (says the 30-year-old...). The compass especially fascinates me, and it's one of the few things I think they did get right in the movie. The series is accused of being anti-Christian, but I've never seen it, and will happily read it and recommend it :)

Min ven, Thomas - Kirsten Holst

Okay, I caved. I had to add just one Danish book to this list. Mostly because no YA list would ever be complete for me without it. Min ven, Thomas ("My friend, Thomas") is the coming-of-age book in Denmark (at least it used to be when I was that age). You follow a 16-year-old boy through the last years of high school, his falling in love with a class-mate and his sexual debut, his relationship with friends and family, and his discovering that his best friend is gay and is slowly dying from AIDS. It's extremely well-written and tragic and life-affirming at the same time. I haven't read it in years, but it used to be one of my favourite books, and one of the ones I'd get out of the library again and again until I finally decided to just get it over with and purchase it for myself ;)

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