Good Fiction for Young Adults

Still don’t like Madeleine L’Engle.  I did try to re-read Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia after our conversation last time, but I only read a few chapters and then lost the book.  So, that’s on my list, along with “get life in order.”  Blah.


  1. I think so often of the rooting of the mitochondria from Madeleine L’Engle’s books. It is a profound understanding of freely accepted limitation leading to far greater freedom.

  2. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories

    Hunger Games for older teens

    Sherlock Holmes

    The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

    Jane Eyre

    To Kill A Mockingbird

    The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

  3. Bethlehem Books has a good young adults selection. I always trust their judgement (especially after meeting the Sharpes years ago). The Mantlemass Chronicles by Barbara Willard (who wrote a lot of historical fiction) – the first book in the series is the “Lark and Laurel.” Books by Margot Benary-Isbert – “The Ark” and “Rowan Farm” are two favorites, as well as “Castle on the Border.” Books by Madeline Polland, Rosemary Sutcliff and Georfry Trease. Everyone should read the Saturday series by Elizabeth Enright. Hope that wasn’t TMI.

  4. The Time Quartet was definitely disappointing on a second read as an adult. But if you’re looking for good fiction for young adults, is a great resource of literary books for girls.

  5. Ugh, I think I’m the only person in the world who is completely taken by the Hunger Games. I thought it was good pop-fiction but way too much gratuitous violence for my taste. I guess I’ll always be more of a fairy tale girl than a dystopian tale girl.

    As for recommendations, I’d say The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede is great – Morwen the Witch and Cimorene have been my role models since I was a young girl. I also enjoy The Hero & the Crown by Mercedes Lackey, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. “Sophie’s World” pretty much changed my life by introducing me to the basics of philosophy as a sophomore in high school. And “The Giver” by Lois Lowry of course. “The Arkadians” by Lloyed Alexander. I also really loved anything by Bruce Coville, even if his “Book of Spine Tinglers” caused me to be too scared to look out the window at night for my whole life. 😛

  6. I agree with Joyce about mitochondria. I think about that book all the time. And I adore Many Waters.

    Other good YA books: Ender’s Game. The Tower series by Tanith Lee. Anything by Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and Shannon Hale.

    Most book are so much better if you come to them as a child, reading freely. Voracious as I am now, I don’t have anything like the loving, standards-less acceptance of stories that I did as a kid.

    Sometimes I hate having standards (moral and literary); it kills my buzz and mkes it hard to find a really GOOD book.

    But on the upside, I don’t end up reading Peirs Anthony anymore. Yay.

  7. Wait. Anything by Robin McKinley except Sunshine. Which is all that Twilight was hyped to be, but wasn’t. I dunno how you feel about smexing in YA novels. Sunshine’s got some.

  8. Simcha, thanks for the recommendation of Canticle for Leibowitz the last time you posted young-adult recommendations. I was very disappointed that it took me until age 30 to have even heard of it. I wish I could go back in time and give it to 13-year-old me.

    Seriously, anyone who likes sci-fi and the Latin mass should read it!

    Has anyone else read the “sequel”– partially written by Miller before his death and finished by someone else? I was really disappointed– couldn’t even finish it.

  9. loved ender’s game, though the rest in the series are not as good. also loved susan cooper’s “the dark is rising” series; “the chosen” and “the promise” (though this one is a little darker than the other) by chaim potok; “gone-away lake” and “return to gone-away.”

  10. Teenage books by Eva Ibbotson, wonderfully written, fantastic characters and funny.
    Eoin Colfer books (Artemis Fowl, The Supernaturalists, Airman) are also well written, funny and have some interesting themes.
    Garth Nix The Old Kingdom series: Sabriel, Liriel and Abhorson.
    Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth.
    Anita Desai’s “The Village by the Sea”
    Cornelia Funke: The Inkheart Trilogy, The Thief Lord.
    Alan Garner: The stone Book Quartet.

    I would disagree with the person who wrote about Terry Pratchet on the Register. His books are funny but formulaic. Read too many and you start to spot the couple plots he uses. Also, in recent years his atheism has come more and more to the fore of his books, becoming a bit preachy. (The Nation is an example, as are his teenager “Truckers” books.) Since being diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s a few years ago he has been campaigning hard on Euthanaisa, including a documentary here in Britain. As his books depend heavily on his playing with ideas, rather than plot I’m sure his books will begin to reflect these ideas. I find it disappointing as I used to enjoy his books.

  11. Hi! Comments from a Kid’s Bookseller! I’ve never actually read Ms. L’Engle myself. Just never got around to it. I find that most of what is classified as YA today is drivel. There. I’ve said it. JUV, on the other hand is Phenomenal and should be read by everyone. (My official stance is that Kids Books Are Just Better.) Last year B&N actually went ahead and broke up the YA section into Fiction (sex, drugs, and abuse), Paranormal Romance (teen vampire pornography), and Fantasy and Adventure (not awful but becoming more and more populated with futuristinc post-apocalyptic dystopias. Thank you, Hunger games). *Sigh*

    Yes, I’ve read Hunger Games, but other than that there were only 2 other YA books I’ve been inspired to read in the past year. (And being the one who shelves them every night, believe me when I say I’m well acquainted with everything on the shelves at the moment) The first was Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children, entirely due to the use of antique photographs in the book and story (visit my blog to see why – I also post reviews of the JUV books I read at work, if you would like any recommendations/warnings!) – It’s about a boy whose Grandfather has all these fantastical stories and then the boy goes to Wales, wanders through the portal, and ends up in a time locked orphanage for children with Peculiar attributes, like Olive who floats, The worst part about the book I thought was that it ends with a cliff hanger. The other YA book was The Fairie Ring which was about pickpockets in Victorian London who steal a Ring from QVic herself and by a crazy random happenstance that’s the ring that holds the treaty between our world and the world of Fairie. I like fairy stories (and Queen Victoria), and there was no sex in it (which I always have to do a happy dance for. which is kind of unfortunate…)!

    On the JUV fiction side (which is what most of the books you listed would be classified as, rather than YA), I cry a little bit every time someone buys a Diary of a Wimpy Kid. >_< My two top recommendations right now are the Percy Jackson series (Greek Mythology! Kids with one human parent and one Greek God parent (I know it doesn't exactly promote the wholesome family image, but if you can get around that they're EXCELLENT) who go to a special summer camp (Camp Half Blood) and, you know, save the world from monsters. A lot. I can't wait for the next installment. The series I'm reading right now is How To Train Your Dragon. (If you've seen the movie, don't worry. The only thing it has in common with the series is the title) Hiccup is the scrawny son of the chief who spends (so far) 8 books surviving and becoming the hero of the day by not rushing in screaming and flailing an axe like everyone else in his tribe seems to think is the most efficient way of accomplishing things. He uses his head, he talks things through. I think it is a very good series for promoting problem solving, independent thinking, courage, and confidence. The illustrations and alliteration are also amazing.

    Other recommendations: Island of the Blue Dolphins (newberry), Caddie Woodlawn (newberry), Out of the Dust (newberry), Crispin (newberry), Holes (newberry) (I'd recommend this twice if I could), Fever 1793, Just Ella, Ella Enchanted, A Little Princess, anything by Charlotte Cushman, Snow in Summer, Harry Potter, Sabriel (again, double recommendation), on the older side To Kill a Mockingbird was the first summer reading required book I ever liked and I liked it a LOT, the Brontes, The Princess Diaries (nothing to do with the movies – but the later books do get quite repetitive and there's a lot of thought about sex, but not actual sex. Mostly she worries that Michael who is now in college is going to expect to have sex because he's a college boy. He very much doesn't, but she spends a lot of time worrying on the topic).

    I suppose I should stop now. Like I said, I review as many books as I can on my blog (they're all tagged Book Review), if you're interested. Happy Day!

  12. The Half Magic series by Edward Eager. They are several decades old, but great fun and the kids are believable. They teach good lessons about learning to cooperate, respect for others and so on.

  13. I just found Icefall by Matthew Kirby. The Amazon reviews convinced me to read it before my daughter did and I couldn’t put it down.

    If you have a sci-fi fan, The Shadow of Ares explores what a colony on Mars would be like through the eyes of the first child born on the planet.

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