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As I stare at my bookshelf, I see the truth staring back at me: I’m an adult who loves to read books from the young adult and teen category. More importantly though, I feel absolutely no regret.
Not that I ever should have, as it turns out there are quite a lot of people in their mid-twenties—and older—that love young adult and teen books. And why shouldn’t they? It’s that part of our lives that at the time, we can’t wait to grow up from and then spend most of our adult life reminiscing about. It’s someone getting us when we were teens, and now, it’s epic adventures with multi-layered worlds we escape into.
Some of my favourite books of all time are in the young adult and teen category. There have been books I’ve thrust upon my friends (like Six of Crows) because it’s just so brilliant in my eyes, and the reason it isn’t in the picture above. I’ve currently lent it out.
Young-adult and Teen books have some themes that may make some adults roll their eyes, but for me, they’re brilliant. Not only is the writing sublime, but it often lets me lose myself in a different world; it also helps me escape the world of mortgages and bills. It also nice, because while I didn’t have the worst teenage years, I did feel very misunderstood, and it’s nice reading about people tackling that and the characters coming out of the other side. It’s nice to read an author tell a story where the character felt just as I did, making me feel less alone, even if I’m a lot older now and shouldn’t find myself still hung up on it.
Sometimes though, I just don’t feel old enough to be reading adult books. Which sounds bonkers, I know, but when I read the blurbs of some, I do not know how I’ll possibly finish it. That’s the truth, and it’s the reason why I have more young adult books on my bookshelf than adult.
Admittedly though, when browsing that particular part of the bookstore, it can be quite daunting to know which book will relate to me as much as the audience it is intended for. There have been choices that I liked but knew I’d have loved them, even more, when I was younger. There have been books I’ve looked at, second-guessed and found myself madly in love with them. It’s just as tricky as any other genre, but it’s more the style of writing and the age of the characters that are all that are strikingly different.
It’s even more frightening to think we, as adults, aren’t the target audience for these books—and remember I’m twenty-seven, so I know this for a fact. Because of that, I also know how hard it is not to feel like I should have outgrown these books by now. But let me tell you one thing: I SHOULDN’T and neither should you.
Of course, there will always be books that aren’t for us, that others will love. There will even be books we didn’t have much hope for going in, but become firm favourites. The same applies to this genre, and I wanted to create a fun list* of those books right here for you on pagesofthemoone. Because I am your fairy book-mother and want to give some young adult and teen books I’ve enjoyed and I would recommend giving at least a go.
*As a warning this list will likely grow substantially over the coming year as I read more, and more books.
I should also say that some of these characters will do things that will make you bang your head against the wall (especially if you’re over the age of twenty-four) and that is, as I call it, the ‘young-adult/teen mood’. You’ll notice if you’re experiencing this when you’re wanting to shake the main character or want to scream at them to talk to the person.
Remember, we were just the same when we were there age—unless you’re Kaz Brekker who never seems like he ever went through that stage—and we are just full of more wisdom than them. It’s the beauty of these books, and also the thing I continuously come back to. I know if I’ve loved a book if I want to shake the main character to get them to act.
But, without further ado:
The Red Queen Series written by Victoria Aveyard
Summary: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
My thoughts: It’s four books that the authors’ writing style evolves with over time. It tends to have a very love/hate review about this book, but I loved it because the character building was amazing, and the characterisation. Each of the ‘main’ characters goes on a journey, and the villain is very, very well thought out.
Six Of Crows/Crooked Kingdom Duology by Leigh Bardugo
Summary: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slims. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
My Thoughts: The latter is more my favourite, but to truly appreciate the wonders of CK you need to fall in love with this gang in SOC. It’s split into each character’s view point with each chapter, progressing the story brilliantly but giving us the feeling we are there with them as we see all the vantage points. The clever ‘heist’ twists are well thought out, and I don’t think there’s a character I don’t love. I never wanted these books to end, and have re-read them many times.
Heartstopper Comic Series & Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Summary of Solitaire: My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.
My Thoughts: I first read Heartstopper before reading Solitaire, and I wish I’d read them the other way around (although there is any issue with reading them whichever way). Solitaire is told from the sister’s point of view from Heartstopper and they both tie in well together—they’re from the same universe. I cannot STOP reading Heartstopper and stay up to date with the comics, and Solitare is a book I only read this year, and couldn’t put it down. Alice’s talent isn’t just characterisation, but nailing the inside of a teenagers head.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Summary: Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
My Thoughts: This is adorable, and a book I was unable to put down. Each character is fleshed out wonderfully, but not only that they seem real. What starts out as a promotion turns into a heated Twitter spat, but there is so much more to it. You can feel the love story blossoming, and it will make you grin something stupid.
The Language of Cherries by Jen Marie Hawkins
Summary: When Evie Perez is cut off from everything she loves and forced to move to Iceland for the summer, she takes her canvas and paintbrushes into the picturesque cherry orchard behind her guesthouse. She stains her lips with stolen cherries in the midnight sun and paints a boy she’s never met.
Oskar is startled to discover Evie in his family’s orchard, and even more surprised to see himself on her canvas. Too ashamed to reveal his stutter, he remains silent as Evie returns day after day to paint, spilling confessions she wouldn’t even tell her priest.
As Evie’s life back home unravels, Oskar wants to comfort her with words, but he knows he’s waited too long, so he uses music instead. But when it all comes to the surface, he knows that if Evie can’t forgive him for lying, he may never forgive himself for surviving.
My Thoughts: This was so beautifully written, and another love story I couldn’t put down. What begins as a teenager simply painting becomes the blossoming of a story you never expect to be there. It’s heart warming, and reminds you of that first real romance, the quickened heart beat and the excited giggle that comes over you. It’s a stunning book, and a worthy read.
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Summary: Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.
Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.
No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.
As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.
My Thoughts: In a world where things go missing, you hope the only thing the characters find is what is right in front of them. Another grinning love story (I’m seeing a theme) that makes you fall head over heels. The mystery of the town, the unsureness of how it all stems keeps you on the edge of your seat, but it’s the thought of what would happen if we were in their shoes that makes you pause as you read.
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Summary: Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:
* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.
My Thoughts: An infuriatingly (because it’s right in front of her nose) brilliant (because I knew the payout would be worth it) book about a theme park that is super cute. You’ll grin something chronic. It’s a LGBTQ romance and what seems to be a soap-opera full of drama at a theme park. What more could you want? It’s a super fun easy read, with a lovely summer romance tied crossed over a fake dating that, as expected in young adult and teen, blows up in the face of the main character. It’s a very young-adult/teen book, but it’s also wonderful and a super enjoyable read.