A Best of YA List We Can Be Proud Of

A bit of a self-plug here: I also run a wiki for storytime resources, which you can find at http://mbuehlerstoryrhymes.wikia.com. It’s still small but growing all the time; whenever I find a rhyme that I like or that works especially well, I throw it up there so I can find it again more easily later (and also so other people can use it as a resource, hopefully!).

Entertainment Weekly is currently running a big bracket poll entitled What is the Best Young Adult Novel of All Time? and frankly, the poll is a bunch of B.S.  (See the current bracket polls here.)  I have many issues with the way this is set up – first, I can see four books right off that I wouldn’t categorize as YA (Dune, The Earthsea Trilogy, Flowers for Algernon, and The Princess Bride. Just because you read something in high school or as a high schooler doesn’t make it a young adult book.) Second, some of the matchups don’t make any sense – what structure does pairing Harry Potter against Holes make, especially for the initial bracket? There’s nothing to compare there! (See also: The Mortal Instruments versus The Invention of Hugo Cabret.)

So let’s construct our own poll. We’ll start by selecting 64 YA titles, split into four categories of 16 titles – I propose science fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy/supernatural, and historical fiction (on the assumption that most titles, even if they don’t fit solidly into any of these, can be loosely sorted this way, and because I think it’s a more fair way of determining initial match ups). A week from today, I’ll post the entire line-up, and we’ll do voting in one-week blocks. Not many people read this blog yet, so unless you guys want to see me voting by myself, tell your friends and let’s make this a full-fledged discussion.

Here are some of my proposals. Unlike the EW list, and every list ever, I’m not using one title for whole series – these suggestions are what I think are the best books in the series, so tell me if you disagree:

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2. I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
3. The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
4. Sabriel, Garth Nix
5. The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey
6. Coraline, Neil Gaiman
7. Airman, Eoin Colfer
8. The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly

Science Fiction
1. Ender’s Game
2. Leviathan, Scott Westerfeldt
3. The Giver, Lois Lowry

Realistic Fiction
1. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
2. Looking for Alaska, John Green
3. Holes, Louis Sachar
4. Hatchet, Gary Paulson
5. Fat Kid Rules the World, KL Going
6. Whale Talk, Chris Crutcher

Historical Fiction
1. Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
2. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

That’s to get us started – what else goes here, folks? I’ll post a complete bracket on Monday, the 18th, and the discussion and voting can commence!


8 thoughts on “A Best of YA List We Can Be Proud Of

    • These are just my suggestions – nothing’s written in stone yet. I’ll do some moderating of the lists, because obviously they have to be finite, but I have a larger bank of fantasy to draw on so that’s what I could suggest most, first.

  1. Watership Down, Richard Adams
    Abarat, Clive Barker
    Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
    My Side of The Mountain, Jean Craighead George
    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
    Georgia Nicholson series, Louise Rennison
    The Hobbit, Tolkien

    That’s all I can think of at the moment.

  2. Did you ever read the Supernaturalists by Eoin Colfer?
    And Sabriel was fantastic. What about anything by Tamora Pierce? or Rahl Dahl?

    • I’m trying to keep the list geared toward young adult novels (since that was the genesis of the EW list this is based off of), and Roald Dahl was really writing for a younger audience. We’re looking for novels geared toward an audience 13-18, which is why I picked Colfer’s Airman instead of the Artemis Fowl books (which skew younger). Same with Tammy’s books – they feel more geared towards 8-12, rather than teen.

  3. This is hard because it’s so personal. And YA is hard
    Memoirs of a Bookbat
    Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
    The Westing Game (Count it as YA?)
    I’ll keep thinking, this is my first go at it 🙂

    • Billy and I were discussing The Westing Game – I can’t tell if I think it’s not YA because I read it in fourth grade, or if it is and I was just reading way above my grade level!

  4. There are a bunch that I remember reading in HS, but I don’t think really qualify as YA. I’m pretty sure the ones here are YA. Oh, and making this list made me realize Jane Yolen is prolific, is there a genre or age group she hasn’t written for?

    the silver kiss, Annette Curtis Klause
    Hold me closer necromancer, Lish McBride
    The Thief of Always, Clive Barker
    Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Holly Black

    Realistic Fiction
    13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher
    Wasteland, Francesca Lia Block
    No and Me, Delphine de Vigan
    Nothing, Janne Teller

    Mystical Realism
    Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
    Going Bovine, Libba Bray

    Historical Fiction
    The devil’s arithmetic, Jane Yolen

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