Why YA?

book_thiefCurious City spoke with Chris Lenois on WKVT’s Live & Local about “Why YA?”

Why is YA (or Young Adult Literature) on the rise amongst non-teen readers and filling movie screens?  Listen to the podcast here.

In the discussion I touched on the rise of Dystopian fiction and the harrowing fictional issues of war and destruction in these novels being a “first world problem.”  I wrote about this topic for the Vermont College of Fine Arts journal Hunger Mountain in an article entitled, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”  Read it here.

Here is a smattering of incredible novels that will make you wonder, “why are these YA?”  Well, why not?


9781423152880Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein
Published by Hyperion Books for Children
Ages 14+
Locate a copy at Local Bookstore

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Winner of the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult
A 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
A 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Fiction Honor Book 


9781250012579Eleanor & Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martins Press
Ages 12+
Locate a copy at Local Bookstore

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.



By Terry Pratchett
Published by HarperCollins
Ages 12+
Locate a copy at Local Bookstore

When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House
Ages 12+
Locate a copy at Local Bookstore 

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.


9780761462675The Good Braider
by Terry Farish
Published by Amazon Children’s Publishing
Ages 14+
Locate a copy at Local Bookstore 

The Good Braider was selected as the 2013 Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year and a book of Outstanding Merit.

In spare free verse laced with unforgettable images, Viola’s strikingly original voice sings out the story of her family’s journey from war-torn Sudan, to Cairo, and finally to Portland, Maine. Here, in the sometimes too close embrace of the local Southern Sudanese Community, she dreams of South Sudan while she tries to navigate the strange world of America – a world where a girl can wear a short skirt, get a tattoo or even date a boy; a world that puts her into sharp conflict with her traditional mother who, like Viola, is struggling to braid together the strands of a displaced life. Terry Farish’s haunting novel is not only a riveting story of escape and survival, but the universal tale of a young immigrant’s struggle to build a life on the cusp of two cultures.


We also mentioned young adult non-fiction writer Phillip Hoose.  Explore his award-winning (and stunning) books here.


Resources for Discovering Great YA Fiction and Non-Fiction

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

The Alex Awards are given annually to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.

Odyssey Award honors the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12–18).