Recently, it's come to my realization that there are so many people around me who want to pick up a book. The reasons vary. Some are in search of a new passion, some want to start reading again but don't know where to start, and many more just want to get exposed to a new genre. I'm not going to lie and pretend to be an expert in the field of books – I'm really not. I'm 16, and I've only started being capable of reading circa 2008. There are so many books that I have yet to read and many more that I will not get to in my lifetime.
But I'm also tired of scrolling through my goodreads account and curating a list of books every time someone asks for some reading recommendations. I might as well save myself some time in the future and just hook my wannabe bookworms up to this article.
Disclaimer: to make my list as diversely young adult-ish as possible, it will include a fair few that I'm not too hot about. Also, please note that the opinions of the main characters of the works in this post don't reflect my personal beliefs.
1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyers
Recommended for those who love fantasy, fairy tales and science fiction.
In a nutshell: what if Cinderella was a cyborg mechanic who not only lost her shoe but her entire foot? Cinder, the mechanic of New Beijing, gets swept into her whirlwind world-saving tale when her true identity gets discovered by chance.
I'm not going to lie – the first book was excruciatingly slow. But the tale will snowball, chapter by chapter, book by book, even if it doesn't feel that way in the beginning. It'll become epic and amazing and the epitome of young adult fiction – selfless main character saves the world, one way or another. But don't let the pacing put you off. I loved this series so much that I bought the whole thing.
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Recommended for those who love dystopia, angst and character development.
In a nutshell: what if there was a competition hosted by the social elites where the last kid alive was the winner?
Personally, I loved this book so much that I spent $12 on it back when the dozen dollars were all I had around the age of 10. I feel like this tale was the original modern YA dystopia, and everything since has been a low-quality knockoff. (Including "Divergent" by Veronica Roth. Feel free to fight me.) This book will be enjoyable for anyone who loves dystopia, convoluted love triangles and the premise. I find it nearly impossible to be dissatisfied with the way Suzanne Collins carried it out.Regardless, this novel is a great example on why novels are better than their cinematic counterparts.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Recommended for those who love coming-of-age tales, the movie, and banned books.
In a nutshell: what if a kid grew up?
It's really hard to give this a nice, in-a-nutshell tag, as it's a coming of age tale with nothing extraordinary, plot-wise. In fact, I'm not entirely sure if it has a plot, per se, if it's a just a snapshot of the kid's life for his first year of high school. Regardless, this book is truly excellent in showing the stark hardships of teenage life, as well as many of life's firsts – first love, first party, first drink, first cigarette, first relationship, etc.
Also, maybe it's just me, but there's got to be something appealing about reading a book written for kids that is widely banned across the nation. It's because the drug, alcohol and sex thing, I suspect. This is a great book to break into YA with, because it's short, engaging and for some, nostalgic.
4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Recommended for those who love magic, fantasy and gorgeous literature.
In a nutshell: what if literature were pieces of art, like this novel's featured mysterious circus? A girl and a boy are branded with an identical mark, and they spend a good portion of their lives preparing for the competition of their lives. Until, of course, the competition begins.
Personally, I thought of this book as a beautiful collage. It's written in scenes, not chapters, with little snapshots of characters' lives that you eventually piece together to make this majestic collage. This will be the perfect starting point for those that want to start reading young adult novels but also believe them to be lacking in elegance.
(A major plus? I think it's one of the prettiest books I've ever seen.)
5. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Recommended for those who love fantasy, romance, and the Victorian Era.
In a nutshell: what happens when a girl of questionable lineage is found to have shape-shifting abilities and her brother goes missing?
The year is 1878. After getting kidnapped upon arrival by two cruel sisters and subsequently yanked into the dark world of Shadowhunters, demons, werewolves and vampires galore, a loving sister does everything in her power to find and return her brother to safety. Oh, and she falls in love along the way. (Because, y'know, it's a Cassandra Clare novel.)
Personally, I loved this book. I thought the main plot was absolutely fascinating, and I found the romantic subplot enjoyable, if not somewhat vexing at the very end. All in all, I think this would be a lovely starting series for anyone who likes complicated, emotionally-draining stories to read. I have yet to find anyone who doesn't.
6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Recommended for those who love fantasy, diversity, and criminal masterminds.
In a nutshell: a criminal mastermind and crew attempt to break into the highest security prison in all the world for a handsome sum.
Kaz Brekker, the criminal mastermind, puts together a crew to break a person out of the Ice Court in exchange for 20 million kruge. There are six main characters between which the narrative switches. There's Inej, the wraith; Jasper, the sharpshooter; Wylan, the demolitions expert; Nina, the witch; Matthias, the designated muscle and Kaz, the established mastermind. Each and every one of them are fascinating in their own way and are all vital to Kaz's plan.
I loved this duology. I know there are some people who complain that the plot is too slow in the beginning, that this book lacks romance, etc. What they're complaining about is the plan preparation and characterization process in the beginning, during that awkward slow stage where you start to get to know the characters. In most YA books, it's during this beginning preparation period that two main characters absolutely hit it off in the romance department with sparks flying, and by the time the main conflict comes, everyone is an established couple or in the process of becoming an established couple, and I can see where those people are coming from. But, at the same time, I think this book is absolute brilliance. It has great character development, the plot is amazing and so addicting, and the romance is realistically slow. This is actually my favorite book, no lie.
I believe this would be a great starting book for those transitioning from thriller and hardcore science fiction genres.
7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Recommended for those who love diversity, coming-of-age-tales and John Green.
In a nutshell: what if Will Grayson met Will Grayson?
I'm not going to lie, I read this a long time ago and can't really remember exact details. What I do remember was it being very enjoyable, as well as actually finishing the book. This was the one and only John Green books I was able to finish. (Sorry, John Green fans.) I recommend this for anyone who likes realistic fiction, featuring realistic flawed characters with realistic issues.
8. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Recommended for those who love romance, chick-lit, and the movie.
In a nutshell: what if there was a a girl who, due to her extensive allergies, was on permanent house arrest? What if she fell in love?
One of my friends thought that the whole plot was super cliche, but sometimes, I think, cliche is a welcome, cute, light and fluffy distraction from the plethora of angsty YA books. This book would be a wonderful starting point for anyone who watched the movie but didn't read the book, as it will demonstrate the stark differences between book and movie in depth of plot and characters.
9. A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J Maas
Recommended for those who love fantasy, fairy tales, character development and erotica.
In a nutshell: what if Beauty and the Beast took place in a land of faeries and high lords?
Feyre gets trapped into a contract when she kills a fae. The fae's life in exchange hers – death for her eternal imprisonment. (This series gets much, much more complicated, but in the meantime, I suppose we can just stick with that.)
While most of my friends absolutely adored this series, I was neither its hottest fan nor its coldest. I can see the appeal. Mass has a great writing style, the premise is interesting and the characters are all pretty cool. I recommend this to anyone who likes emotionally draining shows, especially the long ones. I'm not sure why, but my show-loving friends were the ones who had a tendency to love this novel.
10. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
Recommended for those who love "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise." The only difference between this series and the shows is the fact that one requires reading while the other requires watching due to their different mediums.
In a nutshell: what if a girl who didn't want to compete in a sort of Royal Bachelor gets chosen to compete in it?
America Singer (guess what her profession is, ha ha) has a secret boyfriend, but she completes the application for the Royal Bachelor (it's not actually called that) regardless because her parents desperately want her to. Her family are fives on a caste system from one to seven (or eight), with royalty as ones and untouchables at the bottom-most caste. She gets into the competition. And it's basically The Bachelor from there.
This book is marketed to be a dystopia, but don't be fooled. It's got as much dystopia in it as there is gasoline in gourmet chocolate. Actually, in my opinion, the whole dystopia thing is kind of cringe, as the author digs up some of today's most controversial topics, such as abortion, and handles them somewhat carelessly. In fact, her explanation for how the society became dystopia-esque in the first place is so incredibly unrealistic that I've just started disregarding it. But that's just me; you all might have different opinions regarding this book and its dystopia-ness. But don't be fooled by my apparent disregard for this series. Check it out for yourselves, and you may end up falling in love with it.
11. We Were Liars by E Lockhart
Recommended for those who love poetic writing, societal elites, and fairy tales.
In a nutshell: a girl recounts her history.
This is one of those books where it's really hard for me to elaborate on without spoiling the whole thing, so I'll just say this: "Liars" refers to a group of tight-knit cousins in the same age range as the narrator. "We WERE Liars."
You can guess what happened to them.
This book also doesn't really have chapters, but rather, parts, giving the whole work a kind of fractured, shattered effect. It's not pretty like "The Night Circus" is, but it's mesmerizing.
With 11 bestselling young adult novels from which to take your pick. There is nothing keeping you, wannabe reader, from coocooning into a fully grown bookworm.