I feel like I missed out on a lot of YA books when I was a teenager. Going from reading Anne of Green Gables at the age of 12 to consuming almost exclusively Stephen King and Dean Koontz with some Jim Morrison poetry from 14 onwards, I think there are plenty of books I never got the chance to discover.
That said, I must admit, I wasn’t even aware of any YA stuff back then. Apart from Harry Potter, I don’t think I could name any book intended to the younger audience at the time (1998-2002, my high school years). We didn’t have internet, and most books I read were either from my mum’s collection, borrowed from my friend’s parents (thanks to Niki’s dad for Agatha Christie!), or recommended by the dude who ran the second hand bookshop at the farmer’s market. I went to see him on a weekly basis, and he always had some cool shit that was just right up my alley.
But let’s see 5 books young Norrie would have gone nuts about, had they existed.
Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted on Goodreads.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Fancy, poetic writing was always a thing for me. The weirder the better! This book not only has a beautiful prose, it also has a mystery, so it’s pretty much perfect!
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
This is such a cute summer read, full of friendship, music and adventure. Would have been perfect to break up all the doom and gloom from Stephen King and Koontz!
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um…
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
I always loved sci-fi, but never read one with young adult characters. I read this book last year, and loved it. I can only imagine I would have been crazy about it when I was 16 with all those themes lifted from Greek and Roman mythology!
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I have never been a great fan of romances as I feel they set kind of unrealistic expectations about relationship. This book however? I think the author nailed it pretty well! It’s sweet, but sad at the same time. It has brilliant music too.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
See All the Stars by Kit Frick
High school setting, first time boy friend, friendships, and wallowing in self pity. A lot of it. I feel like I spent quite a lot of time back then feeling sorry for myself, because clearly nobody understood me, and everything was oh so dramatic. The story also had an underlying mystery that would have appealed to my younger self, looking for intrigue.
It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.
THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.
NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.
THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.
NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.
The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.
Would you choose any of these for your teenage self? What were your favourite books back then? Or if you are a teenager now, what books do you enjoy?