The majority of these are over five years old from when I was technically a younger teen, some even more so, but these are the books that have influenced my writing and I deeply enjoyed. I hope you enjoy the list, and please feel free to comment with any of your own.
1. Speak-Laurie Halse Anderson. This book was one of those that had an incredibly profound effect on me as a teenager, it is relatable, tragic, realistic and beautifully written. Even though I had not endured what Melinda had, there was something of the everygirl in there you could relate to- not fitting in, depression, teachers who didn’t like you, etc. The style is beautiful and I simply adored this book. When I found out it was challenged in the states in schools, I was fuming as this is the type of book teenagers need to read, I certainly did.
3.Tribes-Catherine Macphai There doesn’t seem to be much British YA on here but Catherine Macphail’s books in general were books I ate up as a young teenager. Tribes in particular comes to mind as one of her strongest books. Generally they are realistic novels however some like Different Me, Underworld and Dark Water had an ‘other-wordly’ sense to them.
4. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins. In my honest opinion, this has to be one of the best, most engaging and enjoyable YA series of the last few years. Katniss is a strong heroine, she is not passive and the love triangle, while at times predictable, was well handled. What I loved about that aspect in particular was there were times it could go either way. What I ultimately loved more was the plot and the fact this drove the series, not romance. Yes, there are a lot of similarities to Battle Royale and the Most Dangerous Game meets Big Brother, but it’s an interesting concept and the fact the contestants are so young adds a very uncomfortable sense to the series.
5. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman. This semi-dystopian series about race relations which reversed the point of prejudice to caucasians was huge when it was first published.
6. Tag/ The Snog Log- Michael Coleman. Tag was one of my favourite books when I started reading YA. It’s about two friends, Motto and Pete, two young boys with obvious father issues,who become involved in grafitti, turf war and gangs. More than that it’s about imbalance in friendships, I haven’t read it recently, but it is a book I really loved. The Snog Log is much lighter and is about a group of boys who create a snogathon, rating girls, etc. As you can imagine drama ensues and it is a light, comic read.
7. Feed- MT Anderson. A brilliant dystopian novel that feels incredibly believable. It is set in a world where teenagers have a feed in their brain that send them advertisements, chat messages, everything. Basically they have the entire internet in their head. It’s a brilliant concept, well-written novel and thoroughly engaging.
8. Gingerbread-Rachel Cohn. I really enjoyed this book as a teenager, Cyd Charise was a strong narrator and while she didn’t always make the best decisions, as a reader I felt behind her at all times. Cyd spends the summer with her father’s family after a number of events, including her exclusion from boarding school, and her attempts at getting to know a side of her family she did not know was sensitively handled. I adored her brother, he was probably my favourite character. Cohn has written two sequels, Shrimp, which I read and enjoyed just as much, if not more, than Gingerbread and Cupcake which I’m hoping to read soon.
9. Unwind-Neal Shusterman. The reason this is not higher up on the list is because I have literally just finished reading it but felt it warranted inclusion. It’s a brilliant YA dystopian novel and the concept is utterly terrifying: between the ages of 13-18 your parents can ‘unwind’ you, harvesting your body parts to other people. Abortion is banned and people ‘stork’ others, whereby a mother dumps her child on a doorstep and unless she is caught the person in the house is legally obligated to care for the child, finders keepers to the extreme. Unwind tells the story of three teenagers who are due to be unwound, Connor, Risa and Lev. my favourite character was Connor, he develops beautifully throughout the novel. I think this novel is so scary because between 13-18 you can feel so messed up and it’s where I certainly made a lot of my mistakes so far, the ability to be unwound because of puberty and teenage hormones? That’s terrifying.
10. The Harry Potter series-JK Rowling, I couldn’t not include this, could I? It’s arguably one of the most influential series of all time, inspired a generation to read and spawned a multi-million (or is it billion now?) dollar franchise. My favourite of the books, hence its cover being the one shown is The Prisoner of Azkaban as I loved the inclusion of Sirius, development of Scabbers and Draco really being at his most annoying. I also loved Oliver Wood, oh I missed him when he left Hogwarts.