~posted by Jessica W.
Young adult novels appeal to many people, often because of the plot-driven storylines, but also because they’re about people finding themselves through turmoil, whether it’s a breakup or the world literally ending. The protagonist enters the book (or series) unsure and unformed, and leaves stronger, wiser, and often a leader in their world, whether it’s a high school or an entire universe.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Karou lives two lives. By day she’s an art student in Prague, with the requisite jerk boyfriend and fiercely loyal best friend. But she’s also sent around the world to collect teeth for her monster family, her hair grows out of her head blue, and she has tattoos of eyes on the palms of her hands that have always been there. When she comes home one day to find her family’s home a smoking ruin, her life is turned upside down and she finds out that her life isn’t what she thinks it is, and there are far more things in and out of this world than we can ever imagine. Read if you like: angels, demons, doomed love stories, strong friendships, and tooth-based magic systems.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
When the Ravka army sweeps up orphans Alina and Mal from the care of an isolated nobleman, they’re unprepared for what’s expected of them. The army throws them into battle, expecting them to perform feats of magic they can’t imagine. Now, Alina must become a Grisha, part of the magic-wielding arm of the Ravka army, despite the efforts of the Rasputin-like Apparat and the head Grisha, the sinister Darkling. Read if you like: Russian-inspired worldbuilding, the idea of a magical army corps of engineers, and elaborately-embroidered gowns.
Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Katsa can kill anyone. It’s her Grace. In the kingdom of Middluns, some people are Graced with different gifts, but Katsa’s is that she can kill anyone. Bound to the service of the king, she must do his bidding, even if she disagrees with it. Sent to find a kidnapped king, she meets Prince Po on the way, and they unwillingly team up. But there are darker secrets than Katsa’s Grace, and truths that are not what they seem. Read if you like: capital-A Angst, strong girls who can knock you out, doomed love stories, and dark secrets.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
When I asked friends what their favorite young adult fantasy novel was, Sabriel won by a landslide. The titular character attends a boarding school in a world much like ours, just across the border from the Old Kingdom, where Free Magic and Death run wild. Her father is the Abhorsen, the necromancer of the Old Kingdom, and he’s gone missing. It’s up to Sabriel and a cat named Mogget to find out what happened. Read if you like: classic YA fantasy, raising the dead, and mysterious white cats.