If you’re anything like me, the transition from your teenage years into adulthood was rocky at best. One of the most obvious examples of this was transitioning to “adult” literature. That’s not to say that I never read adult novels as a teenager (and definitely not to say that I don’t read YA novels now!). But it’s hard when you realize that you’re not relating to your favourite novels the way that you used to. Suddenly you’re at your local bookstore faced with endless possibilities. New authors, new books, and no idea where to start! It can be exciting, but it’s an incredibly daunting task.
So I decided that this month’s Perfect Pairings would be the perfect guide for those of you in transition. I’ve taken seven YA novels and paired them up with some of my favourite current novels! So take a gander, take some notes, and take yourself to your nearest bookstore.
Romance & Comedy
As a teenager, I was obsessed with all things Sarah Dessen. I had all the books (hardcover, of course, because waiting for the paperback was not a possibility). Since leaving high school, I’ve been searching for the perfect Sarah Dessen replacement. I’ve found that in Mhairi McFarlane’s latest novel, Who’s That Girl?
Who’s That Girl? follows Edie after a scandal at a coworker’s wedding has left her ostracized at work. In order to keep the peace, she is sent back to her hometown, tasked with ghostwriting celebrity Elliot Owen’s biography. Back to living with her father and sister (who hates her), Edie must figure out who she is and who she wants to be. It’s heartwarming and hilarious, and Who’s That Girl? definitely needs to be in your TBR pile!
But if the quirky male lead was your YA go-to, I’ve got you covered. John Green has it down when it comes to portraying realistic teenagers. You cringe, you laugh, and you relate to the characters on the page. You’ll find that same humor in Justin Halpern’s I Suck at Girls.
I Suck at Girls is a collection of personal stories from Halpern (best known for his book and Twitter account, Sh*t My Dad Says). Filled with awkward encounters and moments of big romance, Halpern’s memoir is a hilarious account of one man’s attempt to find love.
Thriller & Horror (with a dash of the Dystopian)
There’s no denying it. YA literature has really been killing it in the fantasy/dystopian realm these past few years. Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Kiera Cass, Scott Westerfeld — the list goes on and on. If the post-apocalyptic worlds of The Hunger Games and Divergent were ones that you dove into headfirst, then you need to try The Fireman by Joe Hill!
In The Fireman, a worldwide pandemic is occurring. People everywhere are bursting into flames. Harper Grayson becomes marked — the Dragonscale shows in the gold flecks appearing on the skin. But she’s determined to survive, at least until she gives birth to the child she is carrying. After being abandoned by her husband, Harper meets the Fireman. He’s marked, but he’s learned to control the fire. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish.
(PS. The Fireman is also our 50 Book Pledge Featured Read! Check it out!)
The cover of Ransom Riggs’s popular novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, was enough to give me chills when it came out. Seriously. Little children are always the most terrifying. For fans of this YA dark fantasy, Dan Vyleta’s new novel, Smoke, is a must!
Smoke is set in England in the early 1900s. But it’s not the world we know. It’s a world where bad thoughts and actions are marked by a smoking of the body. And in this world, the smoke is used to tell the good from the bad, the right from the wrong, and the worthy from the unworthy. Aristocrat’s children are sent to school to learn of their inherent goodness, to learn how not to smoke, to further distinguish them from the masses. But three unlikely students begin to discover truths about their world that they hadn’t expected. Smoke is filled with vivid and horrific passages that will leave you with goosebumps.
Fairy Tales (Revisited)
There’s nothing I love more than a fairy tale flipped on its head! Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted was one book that I read over and over again as a teenager. Since then, there have been some incredible additions to the genre thanks to Marissa Meyer, Shannon Hale, and Alex Finn — just to name a few!
If you love these retold fairy tales, then Gregory Maguire’s books need to be on your shelf! Best known for Wicked, Maguire has been taking familiar tales and spinning them for years. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Maguire tells the formerly unheard tale of Iris, one of Clara’s less beautiful stepsisters. Iris begins to investigate the secrets of her new household and unearths some earth-shattering truths about her former life.
I probably hold an unused minor in History because I read way too much historical fiction as a teenager. From royals to revolutions, I loved everything I could get my hands on. One of the most prominent series that I read as a younger reader were The Royal Diaries — tales of famous princesses and queens throughout history (with a whole lot of fiction thrown in).
To fill that history gap, I’ve been devouring books like Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell and his rise to power in Tudor England. It’s filled with great characterizations of so many historical figures (including the Boleyn sisters!). It’s arguably one of the most interesting and important moments of British history, and it’s captured here for fiction lovers!
If you’re not a fan of the dramas of kings and queens from days gone by — if instead you find yourself drawn to re-imaginings of much more recent history — then you’re probably a fan of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, the incredible tale of a young German girl living in WWII Germany.
Nancy Richler’s The Imposter Bride begins in Canada immediately after WWII. Part of this incredible historical look at Montreal during the mid-1900s is the story of a Jewish family after WWII. It’s a fascinating read that contains so much history, particularly for our Canadian Savvy Readers!
So did I miss any obvious ones? Let me know!
And make sure you mark them down for the 50 Book Pledge!
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