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Young Adult Literature Recommendations

Last updated on February 27th, 2016 at 04:28 am

By Daryn Longman

The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins

In the distant future, society has always predicted more advancements and scientific discoveries, slowly approaching a utopian universe. However, in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling series The Hunger Games, the world is not so. The trilogy begins with the Hunger Games, set in some unknown year in the future, at which time mankind has all but destroyed itself. The only humans left in America and possibly the world belong to a “country” called Panem, in which the tyrant Capitol rules over its twelve subservient districts. Every year in Panem, the Hunger Games are held, a dreadful reminder of the Capitol’s supreme power. The districts must randomly select one boy and one girl (to be tributes to the Games; the tributes are then taken to an arena to fight to the death. The story focuses on the life of the narrator, a girl named Katniss Everdeen who volunteered to be a tribute in place of her beloved younger sister. The Hunger Games and the next two installments in the series take the reader on a thrill ride full of twists and turns and it’s downright addictive; the fast-paced, engrossing story won’t let you sleep until you know how it ends. It’s violent, suspenseful, and exciting, appealing to both genders and a wide age range. The characters seem real and you can’t help but fall in love with them as you delve further into the narrative; it is impossible to share the protagonist’s struggles and not be rooting for her until you turn the final page.

Paper Towns
by John Green:

Margo Roth Spiegelman is not your average, girl next door, and Quentin Jacobsen knows it. So when she shows up at his window, dressed in full ninja regalia inviting him on an unforgettable night full of pranks, revenge, and just a hint of romance, he can’t help but join her. After their extraordinary all-night escapade, Quentin wakes to find that the girl of his dreams has dropped off the face of the Earth, but not without leaving some clues. They seem to be pointing to where she has gone, and Quentin sets out for another adventure, but this time he has a different purpose: find Margo. John Green’s loveable nobody of a narrator charms his readers instantaneously with his life-like voice. The story is exciting and funny but pretty un-relatable; however, the boy who tells the story seems like just another kid in the hallways, which is what makes it appeal to people. Quentin’s attitude and the internal struggles he faces transcend all barriers; the narrative focuses on the difficulties of adolescence, self-esteem, and acceptance of others and their faults. Quentin and his friends are endearing and complicated, with thoughts and fears, just like any other teenage boys. Paper Towns is both hilarious and thought provoking and will keep you pondering long after you’ve finished reading.

by Laurie Halse Anderson:

Eating disorders are a disturbing side effect of the materialistic and shallow places that parts of the world have become. Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the profound novel Speak, explores this topic in her new novel Wintergirls. It follows the life of an anorexic girl named Lia, who is recently estranged from her bulimic best friend, Cassie. Soon afterwards, Cassie suffers a horrible consequence: the loss of her life. Lia is left behind, guilty for not being there for her friend and for the path they took together. Wintergirls follows Lia on her journey to forgiveness and recovery; this deeply moving story gives you a window in the disturbed mind of a tortured young girl. As you read her story, her insanity seems almost justified and her tendencies seem normal. Her fears and anxieties are real, and ones that most teenage girls experience everyday. Her poignant narrative keeps her readers interested and won’t let them put this book down. This haunting account of Lia’s illness perfectly highlights the dangers of eating disorders and the ease with which one can fall into them. Wintergirls is a must-read for all teenage girls.

Crank & Glass
by Ellen Hopkins:

Author of Impulse, Burned, Identical, and many more, Ellen Hopkins’ books are known for their controversial subjects and the striking way in which she depicts them. Crank and Glass are no exceptions, and may be even more brilliant because of the personal aspects to the stories. Crank is written in poetry, and tells the story of young Kristina, who spends a summer away from home with her deadbeat dad. There she meets a boy named Adam who introduces her to “the monster,” crank. Their fling doesn’t last past her return home but her addiction does and Kristina finds herself changing rapidly from the perfect daughter to a passenger in her life while the monster drives. This evocative story shows the highs and lows of drugs, and how quickly the lows outweigh the highs. Kristina, tired of being the good girl, happily leaps into the world of the monster and soon realizes that there is no turning back. The entrancing style in which the story was written perfectly captures the rise and fall of addiction and its steady path downward. This story and its stunningly profound sequel Glass will leave you thinking about Kristina for days after her story ends.