The number of young adult books I’ve read in the past few months and not enjoyed has been disturbing me. I used to love YA because of its complexity and depth, and because I didn’t get to read quality YA when I was a teen. Does my new attitude reflect a change in me?
I think it does. I think I finally dealt with the issues that were leftover from my teen years. I no longer struggle with that feeling of being different, not belonging, and I don’t need YA books to show me that I have something of value in me even if I don’t fit in.
My own issues were not the only reason that I loved YA though, so I’ll continue reading for the great stories. Maybe I’ll just skip the most angst-y ones.
Here are some YA books that I read recently:
Jenny Pox by JL Bryan
This is the story of Jenny, a girl who can’t touch any living thing because she gives them pox, which eventually kills. She goes to a regular high school and is shunned by her peers, even though her power is a secret. Then she meets a boy who is her opposite and things start to make sense to her.
I was attracted to this story and the more I read the more I loved where it was going. Except for one scene at the end, which I thought was too much. It was creative and interesting and I like the ending that linked the story to the sequel. But I didn’t connect with Jenny like I wanted to, I wasn’t drawn to her issues.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
This is about three friends in a boarding school, as they try to figure out who they are and what’s important. I’ve seen loads of rave reviews of this, and maybe that’s why I was slightly disappointed. I understood the whole fascination with the most beautiful girl in the world, and I agree that books like this one, that include young people coping with tragedy, have to be written. I liked the characters, they were genuine, even the beautiful girl was flawed. I loved that the main character’s hobby was collecting last words. That was great. But I wasn’t as bowled over by my first John Green as I wanted to be.
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
A teen girl goes through a painful break-up and takes off to travel around South America. She ends up backpacking, makes unexpected friends, and finds love where she was sure none existed. A simple story with a simple message.
I loved the concept in this one, about a boy who doesn’t have a body, but instead wakes up in a different one each day. The story was fresh. I loved some of the different issues it explored, like can you still love a person even if he completely changed physically. How much does the physical matter? Can we get past it to really see the person that’s inside?
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Sophie lets her magical powers get out of control and is sent off to Hex Hall, a boarding school for witches, fairies and shapeshifters. Soon she makes friends with the girl everyone suspects of murder and enemies of pretty much everyone else. I enjoyed this one, because I love the idea of a school like that. Just like I enjoyed the Gallagher Girl series, so much fun.