Tuesday, 27 April 2010

My Top 10 YA Titles

On April 30 polling will cease for my Top 100 YA titles of all time list. I thought that with only a few days to go I would offer my list. I have to admit that it was a difficult endeavour and I blown away that (at this point) 667 people have taken the challenge to list theirs in the poll.

Lists are very dependant on what you've read, genres you prefer, execution vs memory and any matter of things. It is subjective. It is also extremely difficult. Here are my top ten YA titles at this moment in time.

10. FOREVER - Judy Blume (1976)
It may be no masterpiece in terms of literary stylings but it sure did educate me (in more ways that one.) Forever took an eleven year old Adele and 1) got her into some serious trouble at school (read more here), 2) didn't talk down to her and 3) paved the way for some great decision making.

I still can't think of the book without giggling Ralph or imagining a bear rug...

9. SOME GIRLS ARE - Courtney Summers (2010)
One of the newer picks on my list, it packed a stomach tearing punch. It was visceral, it was tense, it was insanely paced and it provided a very real depiction of high school girls in today's society.

More than anything it shows the stress that teens are under to conform and perform at any cost. Something we should all be aware of.

8. FIRE - Kristin Cashore (2009)
I've been a long time fantasy skeptic - the names, the weird amalgam creatures and self-indulgent ramblings...clearly I haven't been reading the right fantasy titles. Then Kristin Cashore came along...

She's got a knack of providing a mirror for our contemporary conflicts and prejudices with great empathy and understanding. At no point does the reader feel as though they are getting rapped over the knuckles with a morality lesson. She's a master knitter bringing together threads of all different colours to create something cohesive, complex and beautiful.

Adele's review.

7. GOING TOO FAR - Jennifer Echols (2009)
Reading contemporary YA can be a fairly frustrating experience. The protagonists are usually pretty wishy washy, boy obsessed, fashion obsessed, flighty, fidgety and shallow individuals. It has started turning around a lot but I never felt it more so with the introduction of the blue haired, fiery Meg.

Snark. Check. Sass. Check. Hot police car make out. Check. Emotionally grounded. Check. Growth. Check. Girl still independent at conclusion despite getting the guy? Check. :)

Adele's review.

6. SONG OF THE SPARROW - Lisa Ann Sandell (2007)
Poetry was never something that particular spoke to me. It was something I had to suffer through high school to graduate. Over time I found that there were poets that spoke to me.

So verse novels frighten me. I bought this book not knowing it was verse. I will admit that I didn't read it immediately once I discovered that fact. But if Fire proved to me that fantasy can be more that frou-frou and weird names, Song of the Sparrow showed that verse can rise above my bias. I found myself wrapped in the lyrical magic of Arthurian legend. Sparse yet complex. Detailed in emotional depth and yet provided room to breathe. I just fell in love with this examination of the girl in the world of knights. Not Guinevere either...which I loved!

Adele's review

5. LITTLE WOMEN - Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Alcott spoke to me in my role as a sister, daughter and friend. Despite the fact that it was written well over a hundred years before my birth and in the northern hemisphere, I could relate. It also made me cry. A lot.

It made me hate a fictional character (Professor Bhear) with an intensity that shocked me.

I wanted to be Jo. I still want to be Jo...just with Laurie. I want to be wrapped up in my own literary creations and those of others like Jo. I have a Jo complex. I even want that stupid hat that Winona Ryder wore in the film adaptation.

4. SAVING FRANCESCA - Melina Marchetta (2003)
I could go on and on about Will Trombal but I won't. Francesca Spinelli was introduced to me in my early twenties and spoke to me. I hadn't read about a teen dealing with a parent's mental health issues like this before. I hadn't had an author relate an element of my personal experience back to me.

Also the whole take on feminism in a boy's private school made me laugh and empathise. I was dealing with the same thing - the boy's club - at my residential hall at that same time.

3. MANDRAGORA - David McRobbie (1994)
I read this at thirteen and loved it enormously. On so many levels McRobbie hit the bullseye with the history, multiple timelines, paranormal elements (I knew about mandrake before Harry Potter because of this novel), an authentic teen relationship and brewing local tensions.

I doubt anyone outside of Australia (or even the Australian literary community) know of this book but it is exceedingly well written. I've taught it to multiple classes as a core text and they have all loved it.

2. ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE - Tamora Pierce (1983)

My first real taste of fantasy thus ruining all others in that genre (until Cashore came along). Alanna empowered me as a tween and I never forgot her. A protagonist with strength, focus and tenacity - a girl I could relate to and try to emulate. Alanna is still my hero and I refuse to believe she's not a real person.

My thoughts on Alanna's influence on me.

1. ON THE JELLICOE ROAD - Melina Marchetta (2006)
There was never a doubt in any regular Persnickety Snark reader's mind that this was going to be my number one...was there? I have been whoring this book across the blogosphere for as long as the blog has existed. The Printz helped but I think I made a dent in the YA blogosphere consciousness of this book.

I wrote a list of ten things I love about this book that you can read at your own leisure.

It is Australian. It is complex. It is challenging. It is is an emotional wrenching machine of pain, joy and sorrow.

If you haven't read one of these titles....shame on you.

If you haven't taken part in the poll which finishes in the next few days....more shame!

Take the poll by following this link!

A sincere thank you to the many people that have already taken the time to detail their thoughts on quality YA literature. It looks as though it will be an extremely varied and interesting list.

Contemporary - 6
Australian - 3
Split timelines - 2
Verse - 1
Fantasy - 2
Male authored - 1
Female protagonist - 9


Lenore Appelhans said...

I've only read your 8,9, and 10. Some Girls Are would likely make my top 20.

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I love that you included Pierce's Alanna the First Adventure, that one is still one of my all time favorite books and series. I also loved Fire too. Both have very strong female characters and I love. Jellicoe Road was a hard one for me to get into, but once I did I absolutely loved it. Great list!

Unknown said...

I've read 1,2,5.

There's so many books that I love, I couldn't come up with a list.

Jo Treggiari said...

Great list. Read many of them and agree with you. Must have been hard to narrow it down to only 10! Have not read Some Girls Are or Jellicoe Road but will do so almost immediately.As soon as I feel I have a handle on the great YA authors of my own country I find out all about Melina Marchetta or Jaclyn Moriarty and the tbr pile starts to sway.
Happy to see Lisa Sandell's Song of the Sparrow made your list! She's my new editor at Scholastic. Happy day!

Nomes said...

I like your list. The wholde thing was a fairly painful exercise for me that left me feeling slightly guilty for the ones that didnt make the cut :(

I've read all yours except: Alanna the First Adventure and Song of the Sparrow. I'll have to chase them up.

I cant wait for the great unveiling :)

Good luck compiling it all :)

Pens said...

Great list! Can you remind me when you will be compiling and posting the submissions?

Adele said...

Pens - the initial goal was from the first of May. But that's when I thought I might get 80-100 votes lol. It might be a view weeks I am afraid :)

Pens said...

heehee, no worries, I totally understand! Looking forward to seeing it whenever you post :)

Steph Su said...

WILL TROMBAL!!! But I'll stop there. :)

I very much like that breakdown you did at the end. I should do that, I think, monthly, and see how awfully limited my reading scope is =X

Also, send an e-punch or something if I don't get back to you by April 30 for my YA title nominations, alright?

ham1299 said...

Very interesting list. I've added to my TBR list for sure!

Rhiannon Hart said...

Eep! Forgot I had to vote! Phew, all done. Love that Alanna is one of your picks :D

Anonymous said...

Done!I haven't read Tamora Pierce or Kristin Cashore and I am thinking I should. It could get me started on fantasy, something that so far hasn't really captured my interest

Kirsten Hubbard said...

I don't think I can rank my top ten, but my number one is the same as yours :)

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Jonah griggs ftw, all I have to say.
Jellicoe would be number one excluding HP for me, and I loved Alanna and Francesca too! awesomely amazing list :)

Chachic said...

Oooh awesome list! I don't know if I already did the poll, I'll submit my answers later. I only read Going Too Far and Jellicoe Road recently and I loved both! I have to find Saving Francesca because it looks like it's a great book. I'm glad that you have fantasy books in your list because I love fantasy. I hope you get to read more from that genre. :)

Also, I have to agree with what you said about Little Women! I wanted to be Jo and I was devasted when she didn't end up with Laurie.

Melina Marchetta said...

Very very very flattered, Adele. (and Ms Kirsten Hubbard, have finally started reading Like Mandarin and am loving it)

Shweta said...

Judy Blume features on my top 10 too but for me it is her 'Are You There God ? It's Me Margaret' :) I haven't read all these books but I for one knew Marchetta would feature prominently on ur list

brizmus said...

I can't believe the only book I have read on this list is Little Women. I've clearly got some catching up to do.

Carla said...

You have a great list here, which just proves you have exceptional taste in books, because I think I chose 4 or 5 of them for my list. I loved the mixture of old and new, and your reasons are brill.

And woah, 667 entires is amazing!! I can't for the life of me figure out how your going to compile those.

Carla said...

You have a great list here, which just proves you have exceptional taste in books, because I think I chose 4 or 5 of them for my list. I loved the mixture of old and new, and your reasons are brill.

And woah, 667 entires is amazing!! I can't for the life of me figure out how your going to compile those.

Robby said...

I am so ashamed to say that I still haven't read Forever. or Going Too Far. or Little Women.
You're inspiring me to do just that.

Sara said...

Great list! I haven't read any of the books you listed *gasp* but most of them are on my wishlist!

Melissa said...

Great list. I can't believe I forgot Song of the Sparrow! I loved that book. Sigh.

Sarah said...

This is such an excellent list! Echols, Summers, and Cashore are three of my favorite YA writers right now. I feel like I'm indulging wonderful storytelling and amazing characters when I read their books.