I discovered Eddings when I was 13, despite him not having the “young adult” branding that some other great fantasy series of that era had (e.g. Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, the Harper Hall half of Anne McCaffrey).
Do you think kids today aren’t discovering the Belgariad because it’s not YA, or because it’s thirty years old? I suspect the handful of people who responded when I mentioned Prydain upthread were, like me, kids when they were originally published…
I’m not sure if I’d call Mercedes Lackey, or David Eddings wonderful, although I did read them in my teens. David Eddings was in the school library. Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall books were in the public library’s Teen section.
I wonder how well they’ve dated. I can pick holes and point out problematic elements of all of those. Which at the same time doesn’t erase the good aspects. I don’t think the older books are necessarily better.
I think that mass produced authors who are 30+ years old need to have the added benefits of being included in the YA category to be discovered by today’s younger generation (and going forward). Back then, how many authors from the 50’s and 60’s did you read? Or did you have to wait to discover those authors like I did later…
The Chronicles of Narnia are still read today and even play a part in forming young writers’ opinions and tastes because they are recognized as YA.
I may be biased but there still can be a lot of enjoyment from the older works too.
There is a lot cross-over but there still is barriers in place that act as gateways.
Ann McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern is a must read for anyone wanting to write about dragons today but I bet those authors of the active WiP that deal with dragons have not read her. If they had, they could see shades of what they do already worked out and they could spring-board forward from there…
I’m not claiming these works are perfect or superior to everything written today. Yet, they approach writing from a totally different perspective - dark fantasy vs high fantasy is the largest contrast and I really believe a young author should be exposed to older stuff too.
I read an Australian book written in the mid 1960’s about Ned Kelly when I was young. It led me to find out more about history of the Australian penal colony and the stuff related to that. Who would have thought that the bank robbers in full body armor was an already done thing 100 years before? … I guess I want as big a body of available works as possible for everyone to read. It makes for more originality imo.
Tolkien and Lewis. But I think the Hobbit/LOTR and Narnia are in a different category; they’re classics, like Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz, which get read by multiple generations of kids and (I wager) will continue to be for a few generations yet. That’s different from “YA” branding, I think, which includes loads of stuff that (rightly or wrongly) won’t be read at all in another decade.
I read a fair amount of older books. Some of it was books my parents had lying around the house. Most of it was courtesy of the library, be that the public library or the school one. A few rare books I actually owned myself, and those were frequently bought second hand.
Are reading habits still the same? Do the teens today still get hold of their books the same ways? Or have things changed?
I know libraries have drastically changed, and the internet has also done a huge job of changing things.
I usually just picked my books by browsing the shelves and grabbing whatever had an interesting summary on the back, or a nice cover, and I’d know absolutely nothing else about the books than that. Sometimes a friend would suggest something.
A lot of the books I read in my teens that were branded Teen seemed to just vanish in the 00s. Stuff that seemed huge and everywhere at the time.
I think people should read what they enjoy, what they like, what’s fun. I’ve not read HG Wells for instance. I tried, didn’t like it. There’s a lot of the cornerstones of the sci-fi genre that I just haven’t read, doesn’t interest me. I have read some classics.
The two books I can’t stand, that I have yet to see mentioned, are Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright & David Leslie Johnson (It bored me to tears while being horrendously cliche in my opinion. If I can guess the ending before I’m halfway through the book you failed.) and Abandon by Meg Cabot (I told myself I’d love it! I continually gave this book chance after chance but I was utterly disappointed. I went so far as to reread the book a year later. Unsurprisingly nothing changed.).
There are a LOT of YA books that fit your description. Off the top of my head, here are some good ones that deal with real world emotions faced by teenagers:
-Looking for Alaska (the only great John Green book IMO)
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Which has the gay aspects which you want)
-Eleanor and Park
-The Virgin Suicides
-Thirteen Reasons Why
-It’s Kind of a Funny Story
-Drawing the Line (A book which focuses heavily on homosexuality)
Honestly, if you think all YA is adventure and defeating evil grown-ups, I’m guessing you haven’t read all that much YA.
As for bad YA, I’ll jump on the bandwagon and go with Twilight. I read the books aged 12 mostly just because it helped attract girls, not because I actually liked the series. Even at the time I found the writing style embarrassingly bad.
@Audien I made a post listing some YA novels which do delve into more serious real world problems, but forgot to send it to you. You can read what I wrote a few posts up Again, I feel like you are only familiar with a specific segment of YA; there is a large amount of novels which focus heavily on the things you seem to think aren’t in YA.
Speaking of Twilight, I find it kind of amusing that a 90 year old man who sneaks into a teen-age girl’s bedroom in the middle of the night to stare at her is perfectly ok as long as he’s a sparkly vampire.
Recently I started reading Jeff Wheeler’s The Queen’s Poisoner and got maybe 50 pages into the book before I gave up on it. I just didn’t find it believable that the fabulously beautiful assassin who doesn’t disguise her identity and whom the king despises and fears, would be free to roam the castle at all hours, and that nobody has figured out where she sleeps, especially when she sleeps in the most distinctive tower in the entire castle and her room is kept lit most evenings, a beacon for all to wonder about. And of course she was willing to trust a child she had just met with secrets that could get her killed because the child strikes her as trustworthy. Uggh…
As an young adult, I’ve decided to liberate myself to read adult books.
Which sounds kinda strange, but purely because over half of published YA books are aimed at getting teens interested into books.
Which is great.
But if you’re already into books, and aren’t a girl interested in a romance book or a boy who likes action books then you have little choice of YA books.
And even if you do like the predominant genres like romance and action, the majority of these books too will rarely make sense.
Examples include, repeatedly in one book, the main character keeps escaping and keeps luckily avoiding bad situations.
In others, people will die for no reasons maybe just a page after being introduced, which really has a diminished effect on the reader.
But “normal” books I love, although occasion ly I do love some YA books.
Lastly, is the Martian a Young adult book?
So way back when I posted here about a strange Alice in Wonderland spinoff where the girl tortured bugs for a living (and could hear them), and the love triangle was between her best friend (and apparent elf guard… card… plant… something? Something along those lines) and the blue caterpillar.
So, I was digging through my stack of old books and found the sequel. I read it. (Why? Well, the first one was so bad it actually made me laugh, a lot, without meaning to. So I figured this one would too.)
Anyway, it was just as bad as the first one, with upgrades:
Girl works at an emo-fairy dress shop.
She stopped torturing bugs for art, now she uses her own blood and glass. (In school mind you, and nobody realizes that its blood she’s using and they keep asking how she gets such a pretty shade of red like are you serious. Not to mention the fact that in order to get enough blood to fill a canvas she pricks her finger. I’m 99% sure that’s not how wounds work and if it was she should probably be dead because she apparently makes a lot of these.)
Blood keeps forming into the Queen Of Hearts on the page, which- by the way- is a giant plant monster with mind-control powers that I kept imagining looking like the pirahna plants from Mario, because that’s kinda how they described her.
Blue Caterpillar is bi?? I don’t know, he keeps making passes at best friend/elf/card/plant dude, nobody really acknowledges it or replies to him but they’re just kinda scattered through the book. (Not even subtle passes, just full-on flirtation.)
Blue Caterpillar (who has some long name that I can’t remember) subsequently becomes the only character that I can stand or even like. (Mainly because he’s supposed to be humorous and kinda approaches the whole book the same way I was- sarcasm and disbelief.)
Love triangle extends?? I don’t know, I remember there being this “other girl” that best friend/elf/card/plant dude kept flirting with even though he’s dating the main girl, not to mention the whole apparent flirting via Blue Caterpillar… I lost track of the relationships around the 1/3 mark.
Girl is apparently Queen of Hearts? But also Alice? But also Alice was her grandmother? And her mother? Idk, man.
Blue Caterpillar Encino Mans everyone, then he betrays them, then he betrays the person he betrayed them for, then you’re not sure if he’s betraying them for the person he betrayed them for before?? Then he’s not? I don’t know.
And… yeah… that was pretty much the entire book. I still have no idea what the plot was supposed to be. I don’t even remember if it’s supposed to be a trilogy and that’s why it was so confusing ('cause it was all set up for the final book) but if it is… I probably won’t be reading the third book.
I, as a general rule don’t read young adult novels anymore, but when I did I, for whatever reason, loved a series called Maximum Ride. I hate it now for multiple reasons.
I can’t tell exactly why I liked the series, for one the main character, after a while becomes completely enraptured by her male friend Fang. It is as if he is all that matters in the world even though he doesn’t seem in the least bit interested in her. Moreover it seems like he is the only aspect of her personality that matters. Sure, she’s a strong-willed, independent young woman who is trying to look after the little mutant children she escaped from some place with, but all that matters is her fictional romance with Fang. In the end he ends up getting together with her btu it’s not interesting in the slightest and I die a little bit n the inside every time I think about it.
Honestly any young adult book by James Patterson is bad. I read another book by him (something about aliens and some dudebro) and all the male protagonist seemed to care about was making out with some girl? Yeah, just another reason why I stay away from young adult novels.
I used to read a lot of young adult novels in my younger days, but I stopped after quitting the True Blood series, which was … five years ago? I think the worst I’ve ever read has to be either Twilight (I enjoyed it at the time, and it did help me learn more English because the translation was atrocious) or “Marked” by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. Everything felt so forced from the setting to the plot to the characters… I was, like, 11 or 12, but I felt dumbed down after that book. I don’t think I even finished it.