Monday, May 16, 2011

Reading Lists - Beyond Twilight (YA Fantasy for Adults)

Several (adult) staff members here at the library love to read books from the young adult section, especially fantasy novels. Of course we've read a lot of vampire books (because let's face it, a lot of vampire books have been published lately!), but we've also branched out a lot too—in fact, one of us predicted that angels would be the next big thing before they became the next big thing.

We're often trying to think of recommendations for patrons with the same reading tastes, and we decided to come up with a list of some of our favorites. Though it's difficult to describe the plot and why we liked a book in so few words, trust us when we say, "These books are good!" Our list grew much more quickly than we anticipated, so we finally had to stop with the shocking total of 39 books. Of course, that means there are more where these came from...

Part 1—Paranomal Romance Standards


Evernight by Claudia Gray
Sixteen-year-old Bianca, a new girl at the sinister Evernight boarding school, finds herself drawn to another outsider, Lucas, but dark forces threaten to tear them apart and destroy Bianca's entire world. Why we love it: Not just one but two huge plot twists, quick read, fresh take on the themes of “coming of age” and dealing with the undead,” exciting, Bianca’s sexy friend Balthazar.

Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird is Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night where she will train to become an adult vampyre. Why we love it: New twists, great characters (friends, family, and enemies), clique drama, Native American element, realistically fun and witty dialogue, cool tattoos, vampyres have their own religion (worship of the goddess Nyx), Zoey’s one-of-a-kind kitty Nala.

Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, 16-year-old Erin has spent half of her life in therapy and on drugs, but now must face the possibility of weird things in the real world, including shapeshifting friends and her "alter," a centuries-old vampire. Why we love it: Mental illness; mind-sharing; a helpful, magical guy friend; creative; more creatures than just vampires; dramatic.


Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
Having fallen for a human boy, Vivian, a beautiful teenage werewolf, must battle both her packmates and the fear of the townspeople to decide where she belongs and with whom. Why we love it: Classic! Klause makes werewolves cooler than vampires, who Vivian ends up with, interesting ending, dark but very human, saw the movie.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Grace Divine learns a dark secret when a childhood friend returns, upsetting her pastor-father and the rest of her family. At the same time, there are strange things happening in their tiny Minnesota town. Why we love it: Just plain good—faith element, family dynamic, artists, paradoxes, suspense/mystery—we could gush forever!

Need by Carrie Jones
Depressed after the death of her stepfather, Zara goes to live with her grandmother in small town Maine, where new friends tell Zara the strange man she keeps seeing may be a pixie king, and that only "were" creatures can stop him from taking souls. Why we love it: Maine, gold pixie dust, Zara supports Amnesty International, most awesome grandma ever.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who has also been watching her with increasing intensity. Why we love it: Reminiscent of Twilight, but we couldn’t put it down—we laughed, we cried, and we fell in love with a hunky wereboy!


Tithe by Holly Black
Sixteen-year-old Kaye, who has been visited by faeries since childhood, discovers that she herself is a magical faerie creature with a special destiny. Why we love it: Intriguing, dark, no cookie-cutter characters (they’re troubled, malevolent, etc.), masterfully portrays the allure and terror of the Fae world, shows the ugly side of life and growing up.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see faeries, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle between the Summer King and Winter Queen, and the survival of her life, her love, and summer all hang in the balance. Why we love it: A bad guy who wants to be good, tattoos, living in a train, several stories to follow, interesting faerie mythology, caring male friend, wicked AND lovely!

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
When a plant blooms out of 15-year-old Laurel's back, it leads to the discovery that she is a faerie and that she has a crucial role to play in keeping the world safe from the encroaching enemy trolls. Why we love it: A love triangle with a very tough choice for Laurel, different faerie mythology (petal wings that sprout in spring and die away in autumn, caste system, unique talents...) Interesting!


Fallen by Lauren Kate
Suspected in the death of her boyfriend, 17-year-old Luce is sent to a Savannah, Georgia, reform school where she meets two intriguing boys and learns the truth about the strange shadows that have always haunted her. Why we love it: Angels and a human heroine might be the only ones able to save the world, the librarian has an important role, creepy gothic school with a pool in the church, dark tone.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora has always been cautious in her relationships, until Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school. Is it his voice in her thoughts? What is the V-shaped scar on his back? Why we love it: Suspense, romantic tension, funny BFF, Nora has a personality, yummy bad boy Patch—“unputdownable” and at the top of our list!

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Sixteen-year-old Clara Gardner's purpose as an angel-blood begins to manifest itself, forcing her family to pull up stakes and move to Jackson, Wyoming, where she learns that danger and heartbreak come with her powers. Why we love it: Sibling relationship, Wyoming, love triangle (team Tucker!), supernatural girl with a goal, huge surprise ending, very well-written characters.

Part 2—Miscellaneous Paranormal Romance

Beastly by Alex Flinn
A modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" from the point of view of a vain Manhattan private school student who is turned into a monster and must find true love before he can return to his human form. Why we love it: Old story reborn, showcases the importance of morality and the power of love, excellent characterization (with both physical and emotional metamorphosis).

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
In a small South Carolina town, 16-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday. Why we love it: Poetry, Southern Gothic atmosphere, Civil War history, complex mythology, boy’s point of view, strong descriptions, cool librarian, small town feel.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Suddenly able to see demons and the Darkhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, 15-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into this bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster. Why we love it: Plot twists, good laugh-out-loud dialogue, complex romance, interesting characters and mythology.

Evermore by Alyson Noël
Since the car accident that claimed the lives of her family, Ever can see auras and hear people's thoughts, and she goes out of her way to hide from other people until she meets Damen, another psychic teenager who is hiding even more mysteries. Why we love it: California, tulips, great dialogue, engaging back story, sisters, no creatures—just a cool psychic girl.

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
When 16-year-old Jacinda, who can change into a dragon, is forced to move away from her community of shapeshifters and start a more normal life, she falls in love with a boy who proves to be her most dangerous enemy. Why we love it: Strong heroine, love/hate sister relationship, romantic leads endanger each other, and oh yeah—she turns into a dragon! A dragon!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, home of the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead. Why we love it: Page-turner, hope, depressing but enthralling, highlights consequences of a break with conformity, The Village + I Am Legend.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Sam LaCroix, a Seattle fast-food worker and college dropout, discovers he is a necromancer, part of a world of creatures and a threat to another necromancer’s lucrative business of raising the dead. Why we love it: So funny, male lead that boys can relate to, surprise ending, talking head in a bowling bag!

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
After learning that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea, Percy Jackson transfers from boarding school to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods, and becomes involved in a quest to prevent a war between the gods. Why we love it: Funny, plenty of action, realistic dialogue, more friendship than romance, great for boys.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
When a dark prophecy begins to come true, 16-year-old Evie of the International Paranormal Containment Agency must try to stop it and uncover its connection to herself and the alluring shapeshifter, Lend. Why we love it: Refreshing heroine who gets excited to do normal teenage stuff, vampires and faeries plus original supernatural beings keeps things interesting.

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
In late nineteenth-century New York state, wealthy 16-year-old twins Lia and Alice Milthorpe find that they are on opposite sides of an ancient prophecy that has destroyed their parents and seeks to do even more harm. Why we love it: Fighting sisters (one mostly good, one mostly evil), strong secondary characters, great plot, different paranormal abilities.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle knows that he replaced a human child when he was an infant. When a friend's sister disappears, he goes against his family's and town's deliberate denial of the problem to confront the beings that dwell under the town, tampering with human lives. Why we love it: Disturbing and gruesome yet beautiful story; pure, refreshing lead character; power of love and selflessness.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
After Chloe starts seeing ghosts and is sent to Lyle House, a mysterious group home for mentally disturbed teenagers, she soon discovers that neither Lyle House nor its inhabitants are exactly what they seem, and that she and her new friends are in danger. Why we love it: Non-stop action, fun and exciting, great creepy scenes.

The White Cat by Holly Black
When Cassel Sharpe discovers that his older brothers have used him to carry out their criminal schemes and then stolen his memories, he figures out a way to turn their evil machinations against them. Why we love it: Family dynamics, male protagonist, tragic love, good and evil are jumbled up, attention-holding, silly but brilliant concept (two words—supernatural mafia).

Part 3—Alternate Worlds/Sci-Fi

Alternate World Fantasy

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
On the cusp of manhood, Finnikin reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere. Why we love it: Complex characters, world building, good old-fashioned young-man-on-a-quest fantasy, surprises.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Accompanied by her shape-shifting daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North. Why we love it: Allegory, the importance of truth, friendship, talking polar bears, witches, parallel worlds, adventure and suspense, physical manifestation of the soul.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king. Why we love it: Emotional journey, epic fantasy, believable characters, strong and inspiring female lead, disturbing villain, swords, two different eye colors.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, 16-year-old Gemma returns to England (after many years in India) to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world. Why we love it: Well-written, Victorian era, good and evil are confused, fear, excitement, atmosphere.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Eldest of three sisters in a land where that is considered to be a misfortune, Sophie is resigned to her fate as a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the greatly feared wizard Howl. Why we love it: Unique and involved concept with a well-woven plot, laugh-out-loud sarcasm, a real gem.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Cast out of Wonderland by her evil aunt Redd, young Alyss Heart finds herself living in Victorian Oxford as Alice Liddell and struggling to keep memories of her kingdom intact until she can return and claim her rightful throne. Why we love it: Fun and action-packed, new take on a beloved tale, steampunk, detailed characters/character development.

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
When 15-year-old Will is rejected by battleschool, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt and winds up protecting the kingdom from danger. Why we love it: Action and adventure, great fun for all ages and genders—knights, archers, Vikings!

Science Fiction

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
After the mutant Erasers abduct the youngest member of their group, the "birdkids" (who are the result of genetic experimentation) take off in pursuit, also struggling to understand their own origins and purpose. Why we love it: Wings, first love, darkly brooding Fang, future science seems possible, kids controlling their destiny.

The Fetch by Chris Humphreys
After exploring a sea chest full of runes and a journal belonging to his deceased grandfather, 15-year-old Sky summons the old man's ghost, who teaches him how to travel through time and space. Why we love it: Corsica, male protagonist, dark and mysterious, evil grandpa, runestones add a unique touch.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In future North America, Panem’s rulers maintain control through a TV survival competition, pitting teens from each district against each other. Katniss's skills are tested when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place. Why we love it: Eerily possible future, social commentary, love triangle, tough girl, nail-biting suspense, pure AWESOME!

Skinned by Robin Wasserman
To save her from dying in a horrible accident, 17-year-old Lia's wealthy parents transplant her brain into a mechanical body. She must make the transition from leader of the rich, shallow girls at school to mechanical outcast. Why we love it: Seems like a possible future (believable and realistic), girl trying to find herself, sister relationship, the best character development, inspires moral debate.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Just before their 16th birthdays, when they will be transformed into beauties whose only job is to have a great time, Tally's best friend runs away and Tally must find her and turn her in, or never become pretty at all. Why we love it: Fun invented language, social commentary fits modern society, utterly captivating world-building, strongly developed characters, exciting.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
In a future world where those aged 13 to 18 can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs—and, perhaps, save their own lives. Why we love it: Current headlines projected into future, heart-pounding suspense, biting social commentary, not too much romance, realistic feel.

1 comment:

  1. Great list! My fave YA is contemporary, but I'm always on the look-out for other genres. Another good paranormal is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (witches) - hilarious narrator, boarding school, and a vampire who loves the color pink.