I have to stop discriminating against YA Novels because even though I read a lot of them and enjoy them there’s a little part of me that’s always thinking: You should be reading a grown-up book. You are not a young adult anymore. But age is a number (so shut-up mind!) and a great story is a great story. Below are three of the great YA books I read last year and while the stories are fairly different they have strong female characters in common and I really believe that plays a part.
A Death Struck Year by Makiia Lucier is about the Spanish Influenza and 17-year old Cleo Berry who decides to ditch her boarding school and return to the quarantined city of Portland, Oregon to volunteer. This was a weird pick for me as I’m a germaphobe and generally if I read something or see something I think I’m going to catch it.
Cleo was a good character overall. She was smart and strong and selfless and when you dealt into her past she actually had a reason for doing what she did beyond I’m just going to go off and have an adventure. Yes, there’s a cute Doctor but I appreciated the care they spent on the nurses and what they went through. It goes without saying there are some sad moments and Cleo takes some stupid risks but I was genuinely rooting for her and her friends.
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- I didn’t expect a book I picked for the pretty cover who had a main character named Lilac to be one my favorite books of the year. Lilac and Tarver survive the crash of an Intergalactic cruise ship onto a mysterious planet. It starts off with you’re basic spoiled rich girl and military boy from a sorry background but it moves quickly beyond that as they move across the planet and start to deal with whispers and visions and generally things screwing with their heads. Is it the crash? Are they dying? Is there something haunting the planet?
I really didn’t know where this one was going and I didn’t expect a twist with Lilac but again I really wound up loving her character. It’s her who keeps it together in the face of extraordinary circumstances. It’s Lilac who feels such empathy for his parent’s, who have already lost their other son, that she’s determined to get him back to them even if it comes at the expense of her life. I should warn you there is some weird metaphysical meaning of life stuff toward the end that some might not like but by then I liked the characters so much they brought it off.
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crawley- You can count me in for anything about music and Charlie is a writer/singer whose songs pepper throughout the book. She’s lost her mother and her father is rather estranged from life. Rose meanwhile lives in the small nowhere town that Charlie visits and she really, really wants out of it. I mean like at the expense of alienating her family and her best friends. She just needs a suitable place to go in the big city and that’s where Charlie comes in.
Again what I really loved about this one was character everyone in this book has there moment but they are basically good people who truly love and respect each other. Yeah, Rose is using Charlie but she also comes to respect and learn from her and vice versa. This is my idea of a growing up novel in that everybody gets a little bit of what they want but not everything. Everybody is happy but not completely. Welcome to adulthood kids!
I really loved all three of these books. I suppose they fall into YA but like a lot of that genre these days I think they are books that cross the age and gender divide and can be enjoyed across the board. All were quick and addicting reads and I’d definitely recommend them to anyone!