Best Ever YA Novels

So, NPR has been doing this thing to get a list of the best YA books. You could submit a title and then they narrowed it down to 235 books total. Right now, you can vote for your ten top favorites and, in a couple of weeks, they’ll release the 100 winners.

My friend Melanie emailed me and asked if I had any thoughts about the list and. . .well, of course I do. Out of the 235 books, I’ve read (or tried to read) 120 of them.

I won’t bore you with the entire list of the ones I’ve read, but I did do four categories. First, my favorite books from the list that I’ve written about on my blog (so no commentary because dude, an entire review!). Second, books I loved but never reviewed. Third, my LEAST favorite books on the list. And finally, the books I started and just could not get through.

I Love You Like My Own Child and Talked Way Too Much About It On My Blog:

I Love You But I Didn’t Say A Word About It: 

  • The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier I can see why this book is banned like crazy, but whew, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This book is MASTERFULLY written.
  • Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock This series? One of my favorite things I read in Boston. So fun. 
  • The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry I didn’t read this until I was 19 and then I felt like I’d missed out for years. The beginning of my dystopian love. 
  • Ruby Oliver Quartet (series), by E. Lockhart No Frankie Landau Banks, but so delightful.
  • The Rules of Survival, by Nancy Werlin This book? Mind-bogglingly well-done. 
  • Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta I love Melina Marchetta so much. Great realistic fiction.
  • This Lullaby, by Sarah Dessen One o
  • Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler I’m a little hesitant about recommending it because of some swearing and sex, but I personally LOVED it.
  • Uglies (series), by Scott Westerfeld I cannot believe I’ve never written about these books. I recommend them a lot. 

Blah, I Do Not Like You, Sam-I-Am:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie I didn’t hate this book, but it was just a little too much for me. I just couldn’t embrace it.
  • Across the Universe, by Beth Revis. This book went on for ages with nothing happening. So if that’s your kind of book, you’ll love this one.
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (series), by M.T. Anderson Must you seriously be so long and convoluted? I barely survived the first one and didn’t even try the second one. 
  • Chime, by Franny Billingsley This book was ridiculously weird.
  • Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith Shannon Hale recommended this one, and despite my love for her books, I have found many of her recommendations to not be very good for me.
  • Divergent (series), by Veronica Roth I know everyone loves these. They did exactly nothing for me.
  • How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff Whoa, so weird. 
  • The Maze Runner Trilogy (series), by James Dashner Another series that people adore and I cannot understand the hype about at all
  • North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley This one was WILDLY buzzed and it was so very very average. 
  • Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi It is sad how many books on this list are Printz winners.
  • Stolen, by Lucy Christopher Stockholm Syndrome book that has been widely loved and left me cold.
  • Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley And another Printz. Longest 200 pages of my life.

You Killed My Will to Live, So I Sent You Back to the Library:

  • Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray. I knew it was bad when a character had an airline seat tray embedded in her forehead. It was downhill from there. 
  • Before I Die, by Jenny Downham. Too mature for me.
  • Blood Red Road, by Moira Young. So much hype, didn’t grab me, I gave up.
  • Chaos Walking (series), by Patrick Ness. I tried so hard (200 pages of trying!) but I never got hooked.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. I lasted all of half a CD before the swearing turned me off.
  • Feed, by M.T. Anderson. Another audiobook where the language was more than I could take.
  • Gallagher Girls (series), by Ally Carter I love fluffy, but this was just toooo fluffy for me.
  • Jessica Darling (series), by Megan McCafferty. Everyone I know and trust LOVES these books. I have tried multiple times and still can’t get more than 10 pages in. 
  • Leverage, by Joshua Cohen. The violence in this was just more than I could stomach.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Even Kayla’s love for this book couldn’t convince me to keep going.   

You read this all? You really deserve some sort of medal or honorary title.

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  1. I stopped reading at "The Chocolate War" because I have to tell you that it is one of my favorite books (despite, well, ahem, you know). Robert Cormier is a master writer. If you are interested, two other books I recommend by him are "Tunes for Bears to Dance To" and "The Rag and Bone Shop". He also wrote "I Am the Cheese" and "Beyond the Chocolate War" but you can skip those. Good, but not great.

  2. I'm happy to report I've read exactly zero of the ones you don't recommend, and now shall not in the future. I can't wait to see the top 100!

  3. I love this post, mostly because it makes me feel better about the books I had a hard time with. I'm looking at you, Ship Breaker, & Jessica Darling. And a few others that it seems like everyone loves.
    And yay for Sweethearts! It seems like hardly anyone has heard of that book but I think it's so good.

  4. Of course I read it all, your list titles were too hilarious not to. Also, I know feel validated in passing on the Miss Peregrine book and will contintue to do so.

  5. Did I not see the Alan Bradley Flavia books? (gasp)
    But maybe they're not categorized as YA…
    Like Saskia, I loved the titles of your four groups. You clever thing.

    (and what about Okay for Now? Moon Over Manifest? When You Reach Me? what's wrong with those NPR people?)

  6. I am SO with you on Where Things Come Back (too quirky. I couldn't identify with the characters AT ALL), Miss Peregrine (just weird, weird, weird), and the second book in the Divergent series (I liked the first).

    I ended up liking Chime in the end,though at first it really bugged me. And I was a big fan of Shipbreaker.

  7. THank you for this post. I could have read one thrice the length. Cannot wait for school to start so I can get a little reading time in. With the kids around all the time, I've totally quit working out and my piano practicing has only been of necessity for performance instead of for the joy of playing.

  8. Dang. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is on our list for this next month's book club. Hope I like it! Book Thief is next on my list!

  9. I'm definitely bookmarking this post to come back to for recommendations. I also had a hard time with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; not my favorite.

  10. I agree with a lot of books on your love list except Jellicoe Road. Way too weird for me.

    I disliked The Maze Runner oh so much. I was in a book club when I read it. I thought the whole group was going to choke me for not liking it.

  11. It makes me feel less paranoid to see you list Blood Red Road and the Jessica Darling series on the killed your will to live list. I wanted to die by the time I finished Blood Red Road. And I simply canNOT get into the Jessica Darling books. So thank you. Nice to not be alone.

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