vampire romances are OK if they are good
October 6, 2011 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Give me your best YA and children's fiction.

I just got a job in a bookstore focused on children's/YA books. I've been reading things sort of at random off the shelves based on them seeming interesting.

I'm mostly a sci-fi/fantasy reader, but I think that's as much habit as anything else. Stuff I already have read and liked include The Hunger Games, Abhorsen/The Old Kingdom, Harry Potter, Little Brother and Tamora Pierce's stuff, particularly the more recent Tortall stuff (Trickster and Beka Cooper). I like interesting worlds, good characters (particularly female ones), stuff like that. Anything from the fluff --> heaviness scale is okay. The only thing I really have trouble with is dumb/oversimplified female characters and books where everyone is unlikeable so I can't really root for anyone*.

If there are any must-read YA/children's books that don't seem to fit these requirements, feel free to post 'em.

We also have a ton of children's/early reader stuff (James and the Giant Peach/Lemony Snicket level) and a big wall of picture books, so if there's anything that's, you know, spectacular in those areas, tell me about them too!

*I do, however, tend to get caught up in action, so if they're exciting enough I might not notice those flaws. I'd already finished Mockingjay by the time I realized I didn't actually like anyone in the Hunger Games trilogy except Cinna.
posted by NoraReed to Writing & Language (63 answers total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my gosh, The Mysterious Benedict Society. love love LOVE!
posted by Sassyfras at 3:02 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, dear. I envy you because you have Robin McKinley's YA novels The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown to look forward to. If you like fantasy, interesting worlds, and strong female characters, you may enjoy both these books very much.

Also her take on the "vampire romance," Sunshine, is unlike any other out there, AFAIK. Genre-defying, good characters, and very well written.

Enjoy your new job!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 3:12 PM on October 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh you so need the Young Wizards series, by Diane Duane. The first three especially are good, and feature a smart female main character. I understand Diane is planning on releasing an updated set of the earlier books soon to reconcile the fact that the first few books were written in the 80s/90s and the more recent ones feature current technology (e.g. ipods) even though only a few years have passed in-continuity. Though I rather liked the Pan-Am worldgate...

Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books are also great. Lovely mix of Arthurian/Celtic mythology.
posted by Wretch729 at 3:13 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about the recent -- and excellent -- Plain Kate, by Erin Bow.
posted by jeather at 3:17 PM on October 6, 2011

I recently read and adored Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. It's stunning.
posted by teststrip at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2011

The Giver, hands down, is one of the best YA books that adults can enjoy too. I love it so much, I keep buying copies and lending them out (err... giving them away).
posted by sunshinesky at 3:19 PM on October 6, 2011

This previous question about YA dystopias has some great answers.

Additionally all of Diana Wynne Jones's books are awesome.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:21 PM on October 6, 2011

Feed by M.T. Anderson, the Golden Compass series, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson.
posted by Safiya at 3:24 PM on October 6, 2011

The Hero and the Crown
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2011

Totally agree with the suggestion of Robin McKinley. She's awesome.
posted by Akhu at 3:34 PM on October 6, 2011

I second the Westing Game.

I'm a big Patricia C. Wrede fan. I haven't read her new Frontier Magic series but I love Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I think her Sorcery and Cecelia with Caroline Stevermer might be considered YA.

I also love Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums). It's part of the Pern series but I think it's understandable without having read the first 3 Pern books.

There's Neil Gaiman's Coraline which is great.

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables doesn't fit your criteria but it's a well known and beloved YA series.

For picture books, I (unsurprisingly) liked the Neil Gaiman's The Dangerous Alphabet and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and I absolutely love Wolves in the Walls.
posted by bluesapphires at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2011

It's old (80s), but Monica Dickens' Messenger series is pretty timeless in its appeal to young girls with a strong heroine, a mystical horse and a well-developed fantasy world.
posted by goo at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2011

Response by poster: I should've mentioned HDM in the post; it's one of my favorites.

Keep 'em coming! This looks great!
posted by NoraReed at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2011

posted by elizardbits at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2011

And by not fitting the criteria, I mean Anne of Green Gables isn't a fantasy/sf.
posted by bluesapphires at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2011

I love Shannon Hale. More folk tale based, but still great. I love A Book of a Thousand Days and The Goose Girl.

Also Tanith Lee writes some young adult novels (although Tales of Flat Earth is still my favorite).
posted by Vaike at 3:47 PM on October 6, 2011

Scott Westerfeld!
posted by pupdog at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2011

Gah, hit post too soon - Westerfeld's Peeps/The Last Days/so yesterday are different from the Uglies series, and both are different from the Leviathan books, but all are pretty enjoyable for an adult, and my 13yo son is passionate about Leviathan too.
posted by pupdog at 3:50 PM on October 6, 2011

Awesome, awesome feminist YA - The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

Fantasy - The Thief and its sequels, by Megan Whalen Turner. I push that one on absolutely everyone these days.

Sci fi - The Adoration of Jenna Fox.
posted by pekala at 3:55 PM on October 6, 2011

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Fire and Graceling by Kristen Cashore are both fantastic, and I love the strong female leads. A third book in the same universe, Bitterblue, just announced to be released 5/1/12. I CAN NOT WAIT.
posted by librarianamy at 3:57 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Shakespeare Stealer starts out well. I'm hoping it keeps it up
posted by IndigoJones at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2011

Some of my favorites from the last couple of years. Some explicitly SF/Fantasy, some not, but all have fascinating worldbuilding. These tend toward the heavier/darker/more literary side of the spectrum.

Holly Black's CURSE WORKERS series, starting with WHITE CAT
Franny Billingsley, CHIME
Paolo Bacigalupi, SHIP BREAKER
Terry Pratchett, NATION and the Tiffany Aching books
Margo Lanagan's short story collections and TENDER MORSELS
Geraldine McCaughrean, THE WHITE DARKNESS

I will enthusiastically second Frankie Landau-Banks, The Thief, Kristin Cashore's fantasies, How I Live Now.

posted by Jeanne at 4:16 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

What a couple of others have already said about Robin McKinley. Also Meredith Pierce, The Darkangel Trilogy, maybe also Patricia McKillip, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Carolyn Stevermer. And all Diana Wynne Jones, of course.
posted by dilettante at 4:17 PM on October 6, 2011

In YA, some of my favorites over the last few years (almost all with strong female characters or protagonists):

Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock (ok, everything) by Melina Marchetta
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door (despite the titles/covers) by Stephanie Perkins
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (out in a couple weeks)
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (MG)
Where She Went by Gayle Forman (you have to read If I Stay first; it's good, but WSW is far better IMHO)
Before I Die by Jenny Downham (if you want to stare into the abyss)
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Also love the aforementioned Kristin Cashore books. In YA contemp, other popular authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, particularly Speak and Wintergirls; anything by John Green; & anything by Sarah Dessen.
posted by changeling at 4:18 PM on October 6, 2011 [5 favorites]

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
posted by cali59 at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2011

A lot of the suggestions here are great. I will strongly add my endorsements to the Mysterious Benedict Society, the Uglies series by Scott Westfeld, and the Kristin Cashore books.

I will also mention Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. Don't read anything else about it, just read it. It is completely awesome.
posted by bove at 4:26 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Haroun and the Sea of Stories. That was my favorite book as a child and is still my favorite to this day.
posted by katillathehun at 4:27 PM on October 6, 2011

Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books are also great. Lovely mix of Arthurian/Celtic mythology.


Redwall is a nice series about cute animals engaging in brutal wars and then eating delicous food
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:27 PM on October 6, 2011

What a wonderful job.

I'll try to restrict myself to books that might actually be in print...

Diana Wynne Jones has been mentioned already, I know, but not loudly enough. DIANA WYNNE JONES!

More seconding of recommendations: Shannon Hale, Megan Whalen Turner and Gail Carson Levine all write books (short stories, in Turner's case) that I think of as fairy-taleish. Turner is better known for the splendid Attolia series, starting with The Thief, which takes its inspiration more from the world of the ancient Greeks.

Martine Leavitt's The Dollmage is sinister and atmospheric.

Joan Aiken's books are a joy - the James III sequence starting with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is an alternative history adventure series, the Armitage stories are lovely exercises in whimsy, and the Arabel and Mortimer books are just an utter delight.

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's Edge Chronicles are quirky and fun.

Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines and sequels have some fantastic ideas.

You mentioned His Dark Materials, but have you tried Pullman's books for younger readers, like Clockwork and I Was a Rat!? They're charming and always put a smile on my face.

Oh! Bartimaeus! Jonathan Stroud. The tone of these books - dryly humorous despite the serious nature of the events - is what does it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Heroes of the Valley too.

Picture books... I'm not in touch with the current state of picture books, but from my own childhood, I'd suggest anything by Quentin Blake, Jan Pienkowski, John Burningham, Shirley Hughes, Rosemary Wells, Arnold Lobel or Russell Hoban. Or Mitsumasa Anno, if anything of his is in print at the moment.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:37 PM on October 6, 2011

Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books are also great. Lovely mix of Arthurian/Celtic mythology.

You know, I loved these as a kid, but re-reading as an adult I can't help be struck by the sexism; the sister is never quite as important as either of her brothers, and there are a number of patronizing little asides directed at her or scenes where she's fussy and mother-y. Typical of the time, but kind of annoying now.
posted by emjaybee at 4:58 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Related--I asked about series.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:28 PM on October 6, 2011

Young adult:
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Enola Holmes and the Case of the Missing Marquess
everything by Tanith Lee, but start with the Claidi Journals
Kiki Strike Inside the Shadow City

On the younger side, check out Graeme Base's work, specifically The Eleventh Hour and The Discovery of Dragons.
posted by anaelith at 5:31 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

So many great things above, to which I will add: Daniel Pinkwater! (more for your middle-grade Lemony Snicket-y readers, but delightful nonetheless).
posted by charmedimsure at 5:36 PM on October 6, 2011

Oh! I just read Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and loved it- poignant, funny, true, great main character. Not sci-fi, but it can't hurt to branch out.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:01 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied. Great female protagonist and a nice change of pace from contemporary YA (it's set post-WWII).

I also just finished Lola and the Boy Next Door and loved it. Stephanie Perkins's books are the equivalent of great romantic comedies: you always know how it's going to turn out, but with the right voice and three-dimensional characters, it's a pleasure knowing how it happens.
posted by Cue the Strings at 6:19 PM on October 6, 2011

Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy has one of the great female protagonists.
posted by Trurl at 6:32 PM on October 6, 2011

YA sci-fi/fantasy! You have so much to choose from (nthing His Dark Materials trilogy and Diane Duane's Young Wizards):

Of Two Minds

Patricia Wrede's The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles

The Pit Dragon Trilogy by Jane Yolen

For sheer escapism, the Animorphs series can also be extremely addictive.

Non-fantasy-wise, I was a big fan of Robert Cormier's stuff. It's rather dark and uncompromising, and as a teen I admired him for never talking down to his readers. I'd start with The Chocolate War.
posted by iadacanavon at 7:18 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

More Jane Yolen: Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna.

Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley cannot be repeated enough.

Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea books.

Norton Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth

Cornelia Funke: Inkheart

Not sci-fi/fantasy, but wonderful: Yolen's Briar Rose, Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:38 PM on October 6, 2011

Not sci-fi, but I loved it:
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
posted by islandeady at 7:47 PM on October 6, 2011

Catherynne M Valente: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making is fantastic. Disclaimer: she's a friend of mine, but I don't think this would affect my recommendation.
posted by novalis_dt at 7:48 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recently finished the Inkheart trilogy, and loved it. They're on the shelf, waiting for my daughter to grow into them.

I picked up a copy of the Alchemyst at a nearby thrift store, and it was good enough that I'm going have to buy some of the others.
posted by peagood at 7:52 PM on October 6, 2011

Umpthing Robin McKinley (note: while Sunshine is an incredibly awesome book, I don't think it would fall into YA), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising series was probably more important to me than the Narnia books were, when I was a kid), Anne of Greek Gables plus the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Westing Game (just bought myself a copy at the library sale), The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Wilo Davis Roberts, Zilpha Keatly Snider's The Egypt Game, Diane Duane's Young Wizard books (particularly the first three), and John Bellairs' The House with the Clock In Its Walls and The Face in the Frost.
posted by PussKillian at 8:16 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I forgot about Yolen!! I loved her when I was 13.
posted by NoraReed at 9:04 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ursula LeGuinn's Very Far Away from Anywhere Else really deserves to be way better known than it is.

(And if you get sick of reading YA fiction, Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adults is a savage and brilliant parody of the genre. His serious-(ish) stuff is also worth it — my favorite is Lizard Music but YMMV.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:40 PM on October 6, 2011

Seconding MT Anderson's Feed and Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker.

Alan Bradley's "Flavia de Luce" series is baroque and wonderful: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, and A Red Herring Without Mustard.

Steven Gould's Jumper and Reflex.

Catherine Fisher's Incarceron and Sapphique.
posted by nicwolff at 9:49 PM on October 6, 2011

Many on my list are probably out of print. I don't spend a lot of time in real bookstores anymore, since I live in South Middle Nowhere. Many of these are still available in my library system, so it is possible you could find them in yours.

I definitely agree with Sunshine by Robin McKinley. You have never read a vampire story like that. Fantastic. I think that is considered YA. She is wonderful. Don't write to her about a sequel. Just read on her web site that there isn't one and likely won't be one... :) Maybe one day, but not today. If you read Pegasus, don't freak at the end. She is working on the second half... Don't forget her husband, Peter Dickinson. He writes some great stuff for YA. I especially loved Eva.

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones is one of my very favorites.

Reading over all the suggestions here, I have nearly all of them on my shelves or on my TBR list.

I highly recommend the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede as someone mentioned already. Sorcery and Cecelia is also good - it was a letter game between the two authors.

Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag by Gordon Korman (YA, and hysterical)
Actually, anything by Gordon Korman up to the publishing date of Losing Joe's Place is fabulous. I did not care so much for his stuff after that. He was writing a lot of YA and then his agent told him that YA was not going anywhere. This was some 10-15 years ago. I am always hoping he will go back to writing funny YA but so far I have not seen any I liked.

For early readers, I suggest the Mr. Putter & Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant.
I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant is also excellent, and YA.

Polly Shulman's Enthusiasm is a wonderful read for anyone with a crazy friend (I was the crazy friend so it gave me a new perspective :).

Any book by Julian F. Thompson is a really unique kind of YA book, but the Grounding of Group 6 is his best, I think. I guess he is going to offer a new version soon and I'll definitely be getting that.

If you read The Giver, don't miss Gathering Blue and Messenger. It's a trilogy, and you'll want to know about Jonas. :)

Being of Two Minds by Pamela Service is a favorite of mine.

Margaret Mahy writes very interesting stuff, but I liked her more real story of The Other Side of Silence best.

For short stories, the Why I left Harry's All Night Hamburgers anthology is fantastic. The title story is my favorite, but I also really enjoyed Profession (by Isaac Asimov) in that anthology.

The trilogy of Switchers, Wild Blood, and Midnight's Choice by Kate Thompson is wonderful.

Two more I love... House of Stairs by William Sleator and Going Through the Gate by Janet Anderson. Although if you use clicker training for your dog, skip the Sleator book...
posted by AllieTessKipp at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2011

Already some great suggestions, particularly Anne McCaffery's Harper Hall trilogy and Anne of Green Gables, but I am surprised (and a bit saddened) that nobody has yet mentioned Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. Perhaps the best YA fiction I've ever read; can't recommend them highly enough. The primary protagonist is a boy (who begins as an assistant pig-keeper), but the main female character is excellently written. The books were first published in the 1960s, but I detected no unflattering aging when I last read them (fairly recently), and they should be available in any respectable YA book section.
posted by dilettanti at 10:13 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cassandra Clare: The City of Bones is the first of an awesome trilogy. (There are some other, later books, which are part of not-yet-finished trilogies. I'm not sure if there are any good yet.) So read all three books in the Mortal Instruments trilogy. Very entertaining and fast paced.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:29 PM on October 6, 2011

Some great suggestions. My favourites mentiond above are Philip Reeve, MT Anderson and Margo Lanagan.

I'm amazed no one has mentioned Patrick Ness and his awesome Chaos Walking trilogy. His new one, A Monster Calls is meant to be good too.

Everything Frances Hardinge has written is great but Gullstruck Island is the best of the lot.
posted by ninebelow at 4:50 AM on October 7, 2011

I've been enjoying Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz series recently - great voice, interesting characters, very fun plot line.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:40 AM on October 7, 2011

katillathehun is way too modest to mention it herself, but her recent debut YA novel Skary Childrin & The Carousel of Sorrow is awesome and fits nicely with all these other suggestions.
posted by carsonb at 6:56 AM on October 7, 2011

  • Everything Robin McKinley ever wrote, with emphasis on Sunshine (though it's maybe not YA), The Blue Crown, and The Hero and the Sword.
  • The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield
  • Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. So very very good - don't let the Disney movie of The Black Cauldron fool you into thinking the books suck. That said, I found the main female character pretty obnoxious just because she's the stereotypical tempestuous girl, but she was quite capable for all of that, so YMMV.
  • The Dark Is Rising series. Oddly enough, I never felt that Jane (the sister) played second fiddle to the boys, and certainly one of the most important Old Ones was female. Jane was the central figure in Greenwitch, even. It's not feminist, per se, but I don't think it treated its female characters too badly either, and the story is fantastic. Mostly I suppose it's just somewhat representative of the time period in which it was written (late '60s).
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I was not quite as taken with this one, because Frankie felt almost Mary Sue-ish to me (though she's probably more of an unreliable narrator). Still, it's a fun book, and she's definitely not your typical damsel in distress or shrinking violet female archetype.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay's recent novel Ysabel reads more like a YA book than most of his other novels, I think. There are a few minor ties to his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, which I think is maybe a little dark in places for YA (though I highly recommend it anyway), but you don't have to have read the trilogy to get a full understanding of Ysabel.
  • Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy is exellent, with great female characters.
  • Jo Walton's Among Others is another take on the boarding school setting, with some magic thrown in. Excellent female protagonist, also.

posted by ashirys at 9:50 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex is desperately underappreciated. A smart female main character! Friendship! Aliens!
posted by marginaliana at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2011

I know for certain that Sunshine uses the c-word for a woman's anatomy, as well as several detailed descriptions of sexual encounters, although I guess I don't know for certain if that bumps it out of YA category. I'm pretty sure the author regards it as an adult novel.

Still and all, it's a book I reread really frequently and recommend to people all the time, so even if it doesn't fit into a YA group, it's worth the read.
posted by PussKillian at 2:53 PM on October 7, 2011

I can't believe no one's mentioned Little Prince!
posted by Echobelly at 3:22 PM on October 7, 2011

I'm so excited that I'll get to read the books people've mentioned here that I haven't heard of!

Here are some things I'm seconding:

Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books (at least the first three) are an excellent, standalone YA series, and the Abhorsen trilogy was impossible to put down. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles were awesome.

I loved Anna and the French Kiss (It's a surprisingly great romance), Before I Fall, and The Sky is Everywhere. And The Book Thief is downright fantastic (after the first chapter).

But Also!

Guardian of the Dead, A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, What My Mother Doesn't Know. And to go into juvenile territory, Odd and the Frost Giants is great and Someday Angeline still might be my favorite book (A lot of Sachar stuff is excellent).

I do an illustrated book review website where I've gone over a lot of these, if you want some more information about why I like them.
posted by audacity at 10:04 PM on October 7, 2011

Seconding (and emphasizing -- can't believe I'm this late to the threat and not fifth-ing or twentieth-ing!) John Green. LOVE An Abundance of Katherines, and not just compared to other YA. His Looking for Alaska is also great.

Also, my much more-YA-well-read friend is a part of The Apocalypsies group of writers [her book comes out in April] and strongly recommends all of them, if you'd like another source to look into.
posted by bah213 at 2:17 PM on October 8, 2011

How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell was always a favorite.

Second on House Of Stairs.

Second also on Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books. Some of Terry's are also good for younger readers, they get a bit darker as you go along his bibliography. Also, depending upon the reader's education, s/he may miss references Terry makes but they are still enjoyable even if you don't get all the inside jokes!

A couple I read over and over (and a few times as an adult) were The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (creative and slightly surreal) and Mandy by Julie Edwards (an orphan has an adventure and finds a home).
posted by Beti at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2011

Yes, if you are selling to YAs you will need to know about John Green, the Vlogbrothers, and the Nerdfighters.

Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns break down the stereotype of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Abundance of Katherines is a light-hearted comedy about, uh, nerds. John's next book, The Fault in Our Stars, comes out in January. It's about cancer.

The other big nerdfighter author is Maureen Johnson. I love all the books of hers that I've read. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is probably my favorite, although The Bermudez Triangle has a soft spot in my heart for queer characters who have a hard time choosing a label for their sexuality (also it gets "challenged" by book-banners a lot because there is gay sex). Maureen's most recent book just came out this week and might be of interest to you. It's called The Name of The Star and is a paranormal Jack-the-Ripper retelling.

John also co-wrote a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which any theater nerd would love. David Levithan has some amazing stuff on his own. The Realm of Possibility is fantastic, IMO. I also loved Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist (co-written with Elizabeth Cohn; it's better than the movie, but then what isn't).

And, what, no one's mentioned Francesca Lia Block? The Weetzie Bat books sort-of hold up after all these years, but a better one for you (and a super quick read) would be I was a Teenage Fairy.
posted by sarahnade at 10:17 PM on October 8, 2011

I went through a "wilderness survival" phase as a young lass. Consequently, my recommendations are as follows:

-Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
-Brian's Winter (sequel) by Gary Paulsen
-My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George
-The Sign of the Beaver - Elizabeth George Spear

And I must also recommend Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield which was written in the 1950s about a young boy who becomes blind and learns to walk with a seeing eye dog. Why I was so enamored with it, I'll never know.
posted by northxnorthwest at 4:20 AM on October 13, 2011

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