I Defy People to Not Be Impressed by Books for Young Readers

Every month or so, it seems another critic comes out of the woodwork to bash either romance or YA, based on only a glancing association with these books. I know others have done posts like this (such as Gillian’s post), but I want to give my take on this, so I’m going to, because it’s my blog. Basically, I’ve been the judgmental prick in the past, and looked down on YA or romance, but I’ve matured and broadened my mind through extensive reading.

The problem here is that people who generally read the most Literary of fiction (capital L most definitely essential to my meaning and theirs) are sampling a couple of bestsellers and then dismissing an entire genre or age classification of books. That is insufficient evidence to judge anything. It would be like if I traveled to LA for two days, it rained on both, and I determined it ALWAYS rained in LA. Obviously, this would be an incorrect conclusion, as odds are those were the only days it rained there in the whole damn year. Studies need to be thorough. Before one can be critical of YA, one needs to read a substantial sample of books. Obviously reading hundreds would be ideal, but I’d say a researcher would need to read fifty at least in their entirety for their opinion to be of any worth on the matter. Also, let’s face it: picking solely from bestsellers isn’t the best way to find quality literature generally. I mean, hello, adult fiction, may I present James Patterson as your representative.

To be entirely clear, I’m not saying the bestsellers these YA-haters are reading and judging all of YA fiction based on are not entertaining. I loved Twilight when I first read it and it got me into YA. While I don’t love Cassandra Clare’s books or her business practices, her books are like crack and very compulsively readable. My point is, though, that they are not the sort that will impress Literary fiction guys, just like James Patterson wouldn’t. So here is my list of books I defy these YA-hating, Literary folks to read. Let them try to maintain their narrow-minded opinions of YA and children’s books when they realize that there are Literary gems for ALL age groups. These are the sorts of books where, even if you don’t enjoy them, objectively they are highbrow and impressive. I’m aiming in particular at books that are high concept and contain lush writing, since adult Literary fiction in my experience isn’t really about the plot.

YA Titles

As I’ve read a shocking amount of YA, I’m going to break these down further by genre, so you can target the judgmental YA skeptic in your life.

Contemporary:

Catalyst
Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J. Bick
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You - Peter Cameron

Catalyst – Laurie Halse Anderson

Drowning Instinct – Ilsa J. Bick

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You – Peter Cameron

Fault Line - Christa Desir
OCD Love Story - Corey Ann Haydu
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard

Fault Line – C. Desir

OCD Love Story – Corey Ann Haydu

And We Stay – Jenny Hubbard

Everybody Sees the Ants - A.S. King
Charm & Strange - Stephanie Kuehn
The Tragedy Paper

Everybody Sees the Ants – A.S. King

Charm & Strange – Stephanie Kuehn

The Tragedy Paper – Elizabeth LaBan

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan
Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta
This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales

Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan

Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales

The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider
Golden Boy

The Beginning of Everything – Robyn Schneider

Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin

Historical:

The Prisoner of Night and Fog - Anne Blankman
Revolution

Prisoner of Night and Fog – Anne Blankman

Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly

ScarletUS.indd
Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers
Eleanor & park

Scarlet series – A.C. Gaughen

His Fair Assassin – Robin LaFevers

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Between Shades of Gray
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

Code Name Verity/Rose Under Fire – Elizabeth Wein

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

In the Shadow of Blackbirds – Cat Winters

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Fantasy:

Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson

Shadow and Bone series – Leigh Bardugo

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta

Seraphina – Rachel Hartman

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Lumatere Chronicles – Melina Marchetta

Shadows on the Moon - Zoe Marriott
The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski

Shadows on the Moon – Zoe Marriott

The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

Paranormal:

Death Watch - Ari Berk
The Diviners

The Undertaken – Ari Berk

The Diviners – Libba Bray

Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama
My Beating Teenage Heart - C.K. Kelly Martin
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Monstrous Beauty – Elizabeth Fama

My Beating Teenage Heart – C.K. Kelly Martin

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series – Ransom Riggs

Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma
Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Imaginary Girls – Nova Ren Suma

Daughter of Smoke and Bone series – Laini Taylor

Horror:

Midwinterblood - Marcus Sedgwick
Grasshopper Jungle
This Is Not a Test - Courtney Summers

Midwinterblood – Marcus Sedgwick

Grasshopper Jungle – Andrew Smith

This Is Not a Test – Courtney Summers

Science Fiction:

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
Earth Girl
Fair Coin - E. C. Myers

Little Brother – Cory Doctorow

Earth Girl – Janet Edwards

Coin series – E.C. Myers

More Than This - Patrick Ness
For Darkness Shows the Stars - Diana Peterfreund

More Than This – Patrick Ness

For Darkness Shows the Stars – Diana Peterfreund

Orleans
Blood Red Road - Moira Young
What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang

Orleans – Sherri L. Smith

Blood Red Road – Moira Young

What’s Left of Me – Kat Zhang

Juvenile/Middle Grade Titles

Don’t take the lesser number of titles here as a judgment of middle grade/juvenile fiction. I haven’t personally read as widely here, but there’s plenty of amazing stuff here too.

Coraline - Neil Gaiman
The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

BAAA - David Macaulay
A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.

BAAA – David Macaulay

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Wonder - R.J. Palacio
The Riverman - Aaron Starmer
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

The Riverman – Aaron Starmer

Fairyland series – Catherynne M. Valente

There are beautiful books for people of all ages. Why do I read books for young readers even though I’m an adult? Because they’re fucking amazing sometimes. There are a lot of favorites, which I one hundred percent believe are amazing books, that I don’t think would convert a literary snob; these are the ones I think have the best shot from what I can vouch for. Best believe that once you get in the door with these, then you start throwing more and more books at them until they’re suddenly in love with YA and don’t know what happened. MWAHAHA.

Remember to match the book to the person in question. Play to their favorites. Are they into DJing? This Song Will Save Your Life. What about Star Trek? Then give them Fair Coin. Classic bad horror movies? Grasshopper Jungle. Match a quality YA novel to the persnickety reader in your life who’s turned their nose up to YA and convert them into a believer! I firmly believe there is a YA, MG or Juvenile book out there for anyone who enjoys reading to love.

Also, major props to Meg (Cuddlebuggery) and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) who were invaluable in helping me compile this list.

10 responses to “I Defy People to Not Be Impressed by Books for Young Readers”

  1. Annie says:

    I love this post! It really bugs me when people are so quick to judge and make generalizations without REALLY knowing anything and I find often times, YA gets looked down on. I loved your compilation of books though! Of the books that I have read, I totally agree with you. And of the books that I haven’t read, well, I shall get to them very soon!
    Annie recently posted…Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadMy Profile

  2. Anya says:

    Woot! I like the suggestions part especially because that article’s main flaw to me was how clear she made it that she hasn’t read much YA. Happy endings guaranteed? Simplistic plots and characters? She bashed Divergent, but given her proclamations, I’m pretty sure she hasn’t read Allegiant…. I also was entertained that she dismissed all genre books right off the bat *goes to read her spec fic that is awesome and questions what it means to be human*
    Anya recently posted…Sci-fi and Fantasy Friday {ARCs and $5 Giftcards Weekly!}My Profile

  3. This article made me all sorts of annoyed. Even though it specifically slamming YA, it was also slamming all other books except “Serious Literature.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting a satisfying ending, in fact why wouldn’t you want a satisfying ending (and satisfying doesn’t necessarily mean happy)?

    While I personally don’t like “Serious Literature” I don’t knock anyone who does, though it has been my experience that people who only read those kind of books do look down on all the other books. But whatever, read what you want!

    You have a lot of great books on your list!
    Kimberly @ On The Wings of Books recently posted…BEA 2014 Wrap UpMy Profile

  4. Trish says:

    I’m intrigued by your premise that those who don’t enjoy reading YA fiction are misguided. There is a new book out by Anthony Doerr called ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE that was marketed as adult literary fiction when in fact I think it could be classified as YA. It would suit a YA audience. I do not think it has enough heft or depth for adult fiction…we are too wise to the possibilities and Doerr wrote a charming book that did not surprise,delight, or enlighten this reader of adult fiction. I was instead bored.

    I often think adult titles can be read effectively by YA audiences, however. Another WWII title, CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff was such a book. I am not sure if this is answering your challenge, but I do think that adults uninterested in YA fiction have a reasonably good argument to ignoring it.
    Trish recently posted…The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris AbaniMy Profile

  5. Lyn Kaye says:

    I love this list! You were on the mark with a majority of these books. Between Shades of Gray, Imaginary Girls, Shadows on the Moon, Monstrous Beauty – THESE are the books that set the genre apart. You can’t tell me that Fifty Shades of Gray and Beautiful Disaster is better than Midwinterblood. UGH.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Great Imaginations Burn Book Part 8My Profile

  6. […] Christina defies people not to be impressed by books for young readers. […]

  7. An excellent looking list I’ll be sure to check some of these out that I haven’t read yet.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Jay Posey: The Neuro Net, The Journey to TechnologyMy Profile

  8. That is a very impressive amount of books and there are a lot I completely agree with. This song will save your life, Prisoner of night and fog, Scarlet, Grave Mercy, In the shadow of blackbirds, The book thief, Tiger Lily, Shadow and bone, Cruel beauty, This is not a test, Daughter of smoke and bone, What’s left of me, the first book from the fairyland series; all books I’ve read and loved! Some of the others you’ve mentioned are on my reading list, like The winner’s curse, The Diviners and Monstrous beauty.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 264. Lindsay Cummings – The Murder complex.My Profile

  9. Annie says:

    I love that you offer YA books of substance as a counter to the whole kerfuffle. Especially since Melina Marchetta was on the list 🙂 She is, in my opinion, one of the best most substantive YA authors of our time. No one who reads her novels can easily dismiss YA.

    Also, this list totally highlights how fantasy is my preferred genre 🙂 I’ve read a good handful of books in the other genres but as soon as I got to the fantasy section it was like, “yup, yup, totally, yes!”
    Annie recently posted…adventures in audiobooksMy Profile

  10. I love Young adult books, but guess what? It has to be well written and the plots cannot be outrageous. There are a lot of YA books I like but Between Shades of Gray was not high on my list. I I also did a review on it.

    Regards
    Rhayna
    Shakespearean Girl
    Rhayna Kramer recently posted…Between Shades of Gray Book ReviewMy Profile

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