Thoughtful Young Adult Fiction for boys
May 10, 2011 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend current popular young adult fiction for teen boys that is more thoughtful rather than action oriented (e.g. Harry Potter)?
posted by roaring beast to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, it would be great if it dealt with more day to day, real life situations, instead of say, fighting dragons.
posted by roaring beast at 2:06 PM on May 10, 2011

You should look at:

John Green
Chris Lynch
Gary Schmidt
Walter Dean Myers
Ned Vizzini
"I Am the Messenger" by Marcus Zusak
"Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You" by Peter Cameron

Guys Lit Wire is a good resource for this.
posted by Jeanne at 2:11 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was a pretty big fan of Little Brother, it's the story of four hacker/activists fighting against torture and oppression at the hands of the DHS. I assure you, it's more fun that it sounds.
posted by Oktober at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2011

My idea of "real-life" might vary from the current bestseller list, but here's some recommendations:

Sherman Alexie:
Flight, which is basically about the failure of violence
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is AWESOME

Farley Mowat: The Dog who wouldn't be: love, loss, dogs, skunks, owls, 1920s Saskatchewan, and poorly-conceived boating trips. A teen boy who is even remotely outdoorsy should be easily sucked into this.

A. M. Homes: Jack. The cover of the rerelease does NOT do justice to this funny, funny book. Also, all other A. M. Homes stuff is wildly inappropropriate for youth, especially "The End of Alice."
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2011

A few more:

Matt De La Pena
Francisco X. Stork
Sherman Alexie, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian"
Aidan Chambers
Jon Skovron, "Struts and Frets"

John Green is perhaps my top recommendation -- his books have a really good balance of boyishness and philosophy and seriousness and humor.
posted by Jeanne at 2:25 PM on May 10, 2011

Seconding all of the above. I'd also add Hannah Moskowitz to the list.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2011

And, depending on the weirdness of the teen boys in question, Daniel Pinkwater:
Young Adult Novel (poor Kevin Shapiro)
Snarkout Boys and Avocado of Death
Snarkout Boys and Baconburg Horror
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:32 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pretty much every book written by Jerry Spinelli.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2011

I cannot recommend Daniel Pinkwater enough, especially, as ivan ivanych samovar said, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death. Oh man.
posted by rustcellar at 2:42 PM on May 10, 2011

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Looking for Alaska by John Green
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
The Morgue & Me by John C. Ford
posted by headspace at 2:49 PM on May 10, 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
posted by hellomina at 2:52 PM on May 10, 2011

"I Am the Messenger" by Marcus Zusak

Seconding this one. I read it recently and loved it (except for the last two or three paragraphs). btw, the originally Australian edition was called "Messenger."
posted by bentley at 3:40 PM on May 10, 2011

Summerland by Michael Chabon.
posted by eugenen at 3:43 PM on May 10, 2011

Oh man, Summerland is the only Chabon I could not get into. Maybe it's a baseball thing?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:21 PM on May 10, 2011

Are you familiar with Guys Read? Most of it is too young for teens, but it's not a bad place to start.
posted by Violet Hour at 4:33 PM on May 10, 2011

Also check out:

Eric Luper
Michael Northrop
Martin Wilson

Luper's novel Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto is a great read, sort of like Nick Hornby for the teenaged boy. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And echoing Jeanne on the Ned Vizzini/John Green front. They're both brilliant.
posted by brina at 4:44 PM on May 10, 2011

Marcelo in the Real World, for a more serious read.

Seconding Markus Zusak--in addition to I Am the Messenger, which is excellent, he's written a couple of books about a pair of boxing brothers, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2011

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson.

So, so good.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:08 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cynthia Voight (she wrote some books with teen boys as main characters, "The Runner" comes to mind)

S.E. Hinton!

Seconding Sherman Alexie, "Part-Time Indian", excellent book.

The Catcher in the Rye is always good.
posted by bearette at 6:10 PM on May 10, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, this is way more than I know what to do with. Thanks, you all are awesome!
posted by roaring beast at 8:01 PM on May 10, 2011

Most of my faves have already been mentioned, but I wanted to add David Levithan. He writes mostly from a gay perspective, which may or may not be something your son is comfortable with, but Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (co-written with Rachel Cohn) has straight protagonists.

Of his LGBT novels, I particularly recommend Boy Meets Boy and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written with John Green).

Also, Liar by Justine Larbalestier is an excellent twisty story that I think would appeal to boys and well as girls.
posted by Georgina at 8:31 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nick Mamatas: Under My Roof, about secession, nuclear-armed garden gnomes, and Long Island.

As with the A. M. Homes recommendation earlier: most of the other Mamatas is not remotely age-appropriate (except possibly for Build a Trebuchet)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:56 PM on May 10, 2011

Split by Swati Avasthi
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Open Ice by Pat Hughes

All of the above are a little issue-y, but well enough written that the stories seem true to the protagonists rather than like an after school special.

And what I think is a unisex book featuring zombies (I would still call it thoughtful, though, as YA goes): Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1) by Mira Grant.

Also, if your teen is a somewhat advanced reader he might enjoy Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, which is not technically a YA book, but is certainly a thoughtful depiction of life as a thirteen-year-old.
posted by unsub at 10:13 PM on May 10, 2011

Judy Blume's Then Again, Maybe I Won't and Isabelle Holland's The Man Without a Face (DON'T bother with the Mel Gibson adaptation) were published nearly 40 years ago, but otherwise fit your criteria.
posted by brujita at 10:48 PM on May 10, 2011

oh, Black Swan Green is awesome! I have no idea how much I would have got out of it as an actual 13 year old, but I think I would have liked it.

Along those lines: "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" is great, the sequels somewhat less so (he's more annoying as he grows up).

Also, there's a reason that Kipling's "Kim," and Twain's "Huck Finn" still keep being read.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011

John Green, John Green, John Green, John Green, and John Green.

That is all.

(Well, no, that's not nearly all, but lord he's good.)
posted by tzikeh at 1:18 AM on May 12, 2011

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