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Great Books For Young Adults

When people look at YA books these days, they are generally grouped into 2 categories. Romance (especially including vampires) and Harry Potter. Yes, I include HP as a category all by itself.

But never fear! Though I love and adore Harry Potter, many pre-teens and teens are looking for more. Here is a rather short list of some of my favorite books and series:

Nancy Drew: Nancy Drew is a fictional young amateur detective in various mystery series for all ages. Mostly oriented towards younger girls, but there are a number of spin-off series, such as the Files, that are suited more for older teens looking for some romance and murder mixed in with those burglaries and the milder mysteries of the original 56 yellowbacks.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (and all other Riordan books): The protagonist, Percy, learns (through odd circumstances) learns that the Greek Gods are real, and he is the son of Posiedon.In the first book, he gets roped into accepting a quest to find Zeus' missing lightning bolt before the summer solstice, along with spunky, smart Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and the sweet and funny satyr Grover. The series focuses not only on the myths and legends of Greece (which mostly all turn out to be real in some form or fashion) but on Percy's journey growing up, each book taking place a year after the previous. Fighting to save the world from the forces of evil (the Titans, the head 'bad guy' who is Kronos), he also meets lifelong friends along the way, and grows into adulthood by being forced into the hero role. Quite a good series, and may I recommend all of the other Riordan books (a Roman series, with Percy still being a character in it, and his totally non-related Egyptian series).

Any and all of the Tamora Pierce books: With her massive 'Tortall' universe and her almost equally as long 'Circle' Universe, Tamora certainly has made her mark on the fantasy world. The first quartet in her Tortall-verse is the 'Song of the Lioness', about a young girl, Alanna of Trebond, who strives to be a knight in a world where there are no women warriors (and women aren't allowed to even try). She therefore goes undercover as 'Alan', and the resulting story of trying to complete her training and vecome a knight without anyone finding out her true gender. By the way, magic is present in the world.

'The Immortals' quartet focuses on Daine, a girl with Wild Magic, the ability to communicate with (and later on, even transform into) animals.
 Those are just two of her Quartets. See her website (tamorapierce.com) for a complete list of her works (or you could just google her).

The Alex Rider Series: A fourteen year-old reluctant British spy? Count me in! In the first book, 'Stormbraker', Alex's uncle has just died under mysterious circumstances, and Alex checks it out, only to discover his uncle was a spy for MI-6. Alex, not of his own free will, is sent in to finish what his uncle started, and see just what is happening with billionare Herod Sayle and his generous donation of the prestigious Stormbreaker computers (which he developed himself) to every schoolchild in Great Britian. If that particular storyline doesn't sound interesting enough, look up the next books in the series, which include a remote boy's school in France, a nuclear bomb in Cuba, a hijacking of Air Force One, and an international terrorist group who's out to get him in various books.

The Artemis Fowl Series: A twelce-year old super genius criminal mastermind who discovers that fairies aren't as make-believe as they would like humans to believe. Granted, he kidnaps one to force them to give up some gold to him, but taht's only the first book. From the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconissance) to the tech genius centaur Foaly, to the various mischief Artemis and Holly, an elf, get themselves into, this series has it all. It also has the unqiue perspective of the main character being the antagonist in the series (at least, in the beginning).

Chronicles of Narnia: I really don't think I have to explain on this one, but I will anyway, for those of you who've been living under rocks for the past 50 or so years (and especially during the last ten, when the movies have been made). The 'first' book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which the Pevensie siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) are shipped off to the countryside during WWII and discover a secret world in the Wardrobe called Narnia. For Christian book lovers, you'll love this one. It's enough of an undertone that kids won't yell 'Oh my god! This is about the Bible!' but it's clearly obvious when you read it. The journey of Narnia and its characters actually reflects C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity, in a fun and inventive way.

The Mortal Intsruments Series: Demon Hunters (shadowhunters) supposedly decended from an angel and live in New York.

Synopsis for 'City of Bones': When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it's hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary's mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Also see Cassandra Clare's 'The Infernal Devices' series, though only Clockwork Angel is out, with Clockwork Princess comign out sometime this fall.

For any fellow horse lovers, pre-teen girls might especially love the 'Phantom Stallion' series.

The main character is a girl named Samantha "Sam" Forster who shares a unique bond with a wild horse called the Phantom. Having spent two years away from her family's Nevada ranch to recover from a riding accident, Sam returns home to find that things are never easy where horses are concerned. A very heartwarming series, with lots of horses and cattle ranching and the like.

For those loving spine-chilling shorter books, read anything by Mary Downing Hahn. 'Wait Till Helen Comes' and 'The Doll in the Garden' are creepy, but not so scary you won't be able to sleep at night. Just good old-fashioned ghost stories, mainly.

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forster is one of the most interesting kid's books I've ever read, purely beacause of its unique perspecitve on the wold of 'magical powers'.

Piper McCloud was no ordinary baby, and she is no ordinary girl. She has always been able to float, and one day, she decides to teach herself how to fly. When her extraordinary ability to fly is made public, she is sent to a special school where she anticipates her skill will be developed. Unfortunately her skill, and the abilities of the other children, are considered dangerous and the school turns out to be a more sinister experience than Piper expected. Throughout the book, Piper shows that she is actually very special, even compared to the other extraordinary children.

I could go on and on and on, but I think I'll stop here before I bore you anymore. These are only a very few of the many choices out there, waiting to be found. I know I'm going to keep looking. But never fear! For those who crave a good dive into a well-written, engrossing fantasy world, these books are must-reads.

So, signing off, and may the force be with you.


Writer's Block: Whose part would you play?

If you could be cast on any TV show, from any time, who would you play?

Doctor Who, the best science fiction show in the world!

I'd play a companion of course! I would have loved to play River, actually, but since she's played by the marvelous Alex Kingston, I'll settle with just being a companion.