So….you know, I spend most of my blog posts, including my Tuesday Top Tens and my Book of the Weeks talking about books that have some sort of fantasy or paranormal or dystopian…some kind of surrealistic feel to them. That’s just the kind of novels that I gravitate to.
But I’m a reader, first and foremost, and that’s what my blog is mostly about: books. And I’m also just a big fan of young adult novels, period. So I decided to dedicate my entire Tuesday Top Ten to those contemporary, non-fantasy young adult novels and authors that I love so much.
Sure, I could talk about Harry Potter and Mortal Instruments and Divergent and Delirium and Gemma Doyle and all of those over and over and over again, but let’s try something new.
Let’s break out of the box a little.
So here’s this week’s Tuesday Top Ten:
My Favorite Young Adult Contemporary Novels!
Between the Lines is the first novel in the Between the Lines series, an ebook series by Tammara Webber, author of the novel, Easy. Between the Lines follows two different people: Emma, who is an aspiring actress who lands a major role as Lizbeth in a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejuidce, and Reid, an extremely famous actor, playing the part of Will Darcy, and is known for his partying and his different girls in his bed every night. Reid immediately feels an attraction to Emma and is determined to have her in his bed, but Emma is less sure. She likes Reid but she also likes another handsome actor as well. What I like about this novel is that it surprised me. Its in ebook format and I bought it because it was fairly cheap…and I consumed the novel incredibly fast and LOVED it. This novel had the potential to be cheesy and cliche but it wasn’t. Tammara creates wonderful, believable characters and she creates such depth to them. There is so much more to both Emma and Reid and their stories are so addicting. Plus I like that Tammara’s books are more “new adult” or “mature young adult”, so I get my love of YA but with a little smut on the side.
Taylor and her family pack up their bags and head to their lake house for the summer, even though Taylor would like nothing more to avoid that place. First off, her dad just found out he has cancer and has not much time to live and he would like to spend one last summer with his family before he goes. Secondly, the last time she was at the lake, she ran away, from her best friend and from her first love and she’s afraid to face them both. However, she does return and she realizes that she begins to have second chances: a second chance to have her best friend, a second chance to find love and a second chance to have a relationship with her dad. Morgan Matson is an amazing author, who I was privileged to meet recently and this book is another example of her talent (see below for her prime example). She is able to capture the teenage consciousness: the awkwardness, the first loves, the fights with friends, friends in general, pimples, the confusion and the emotions. But she also captures the realness of the teen years too, and the feeling of first loves, having a parent with cancer, growing up. You really see Taylor go through a lot and you are happy to hold her hand through it.
Auden has spent her entire life being an adult. She is raised by her mother, a pretenious English professor, and her father, an award winning author, and they’ve expected a lot out of her. When they divorce, and her father marries a young woman, and quickly has another child, Auden suddenly finds herself with incurable insomnia. When she reluctantly agrees to spend the summer with her father and his new wife, she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, who shows her the many things that she can accomplish in the night, and shows her what it really means to be young. I LOVE this book. I absolutely, totally adore this book. Look at how beat up my copy is (which Sarah Dessen LOVED by the way).
I love that you really get to see Auden grow up, but not in the way you expect. Auden feels like she needs to act like an adult all the time, with no fun, because this is what is expected of her. But she meets Eli, and a bunch of other new friends, and they teach her not only to have fun and be young, but not to judge people based on first impressions, like her mother does. We usually see novels about coming-of-age stories and growing up, and I think this novel has a similar concept but in the opposite direction. In order for Auden to grow up, she has to learn how to be young, and she has her new friends, especially Eli, to teach her.
The Airhead Trilogy follows Emerson Watts, a girl who only has one best friend and abhors anything that is “popular”. She’s forced to take her sister to the grand opening of a brand new Stark Megastore, where the famous model, Nikki Howard, will be making an appearance. When a large television screen falls right above her sister, Em pushes her out of the way, and everything goes dark. When she wakes, she is suddenly looking a little different than before…in fact, she’s now Nikki Howard. After she was crushed by the flat screen, her body is declared dead…and Nikki Howard, victim of a brain anuerysm, is now brain dead. Solution: transplant Em’s brain into Nikki’s body, to fulfill the duties of the model for the huge Stark company. But of course, not all is as it seems and there is more to her transplant than she’s been told. I LOVE Meg Cabot, I love her. Her stories are so out of this world, but she also makes them so damn believable. Her characters are all so real, inside these surreal situations. I like it because its so….science fiction, but in this contemporary YA novel. It could be included in my “fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi” series countdown (which will be coming soon) but I put it here because it doesn’t feel that way. Em is just a normal teenage girl, with normal teenage problems, but with the slight problem of now being in a famous model’s body. Haha.
This is the first book I ever read by Deb Caletti and I fell in love. Some may not consider it her best but I love it. The main character is Queenie, who is surrounded by women who have been burned by men, especially her mother by her father. But Queenie worships her father, until she finds out a secret about him. Queenie goes on a road trip to meet all the women in her dad’s past and learns a little about what prince charming actually means. What I really love about Deb Caletti’s books is that they are young adult but with some depth, and some serious balls in them. She attacks issues, and has been attacking issues, in very real ways. Nothing about her books isn’t real. Queenie’s father has some serious issues; narcissism as a major one, and Queenie has spent her entire life worshiping the ground that he walks on. This book tackles that idea that your parents, well, they aren’t always right and they aren’t always going to do the right thing. And I love the male lead character too. I can’t help it; I love a good fictional crush. But I love the issues that Deb Caletti writes about: teenage parents, murder, money, real stuff in very relatable situations. And she’s an absolutely brilliant author, very very talented.
Everyone always talks The Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska when it comes to John Green. And while I love both of those books SO much, the first one I ever read from John Green was Paper Towns…and I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. But then I read An Abundance of Katherines and I absolutely love it. The book follows Colin, a kid prodigy, who is obsessed with making his mark on the world, capable of having “famous last words”, of having his “Eureka!” moment. After being dumped by his 19th Katherine (how does this even happen?), he is dragged on a road trip with his best friend, Hassan. They don’t get too far, when they land in the town of Gutshot, Tennessee, where they continue to spend the rest of the summer, hanging out with Lindsay and her mother, and trying to devise a formula that will help Colin figure out what went wrong with each and every Katherine. I love this book, because god, one its not seriously sad and heartbreaking like The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, and even Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Its more of a fun novel for John Green and its fun to watch Colin grow up, and become more…HIM. Its fun to watch him fall in love with someone who isn’t a Lindsay, its fun to see him be a normal teenager, its fun to see him get his moment, just not in the way he expected it. Its a fantastic novel, and I love that the formula created in the book is real, or real enough for the book’s purpose :)
Morgan Matson, you are just too brilliant for words. I first read this book because I saw it on the ALA Top Ten list for Young Readers. It was a cool title so I went to check it out at the bookstore and decided to buy it. And LOVED it. The story is of Amy, a girl who was driving the vehicle when someone crashed into her, and her dad died. Not long after, her brother is sent to rehab for drugs. Her mom decides to pack them up and move them from California to Connecticut and she needs the car driven over. Of course, Amy doesn’t drive anymore, so her mom arranges for her friend’s son Roger, to drive them both over. What starts as a simple direct drive across the country becomes an adventure as Amy and Roger throw the itinerary created by her mom out the window and start choosing where they want to go. I can’t stress enough the brilliance of this book. I love it. I fell in love with Morgan Matson and when I met her last weekend, I couldn’t even form into words, because I was just so excited to read such a talented and inspirational writer. Its a fun, road trip novel with Amy and Roger hitting different places across the country, which is fun, because who doesn’t want to go on a road trip at least once in their life? But its also so good because of Amy’s battle to trust herself and to trust her feelings and Roger’s inability to move on from something that’s holding them back. They both learn so much on their road trip and its fun to be along with them. Also, its awesome that the book is almost laid out with a scrapbook kind of feel and she includes playlists at the beginning of each chapter :)
Meg Cabot keeps appearing on this list haha. All American Girl is the story of Samantha Madison, an artsy girl living in the shadow of her popular cheerleader older sister, Lucy, and her genuis little sister, Rebecca. She’s in love with her sister’s boyfriend, Jack, and after she gets caught selling celebrity drawings at school, she’s forced to take art lessons from a hobbit looking woman who is “holding her back”. One day, she ditches art class, and when she is waiting for her housekeeper to come pick her, she stops a random gunmen from shooting the president of the United States. Suddenly, Samantha is the most famous girl in the world, as the presents and the fame come pouring in and she becomes the first teen ambassador to the UN…and her problems only get worse; the president’s son just may be in love with her. Again, with the crazy and ridiculous Meg Cabot. I read this book when it came out when I was about 13 or 14 years old and it absolutely never ceases to get old to me. Meg Cabot is one of my top inspirations besides Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, in my young adult contemporary novel writing, and its because she’s a great writer that takes these ridiculous situations in OUR world and makes you absolutely believe them. Its one thing to write an urban fantasy or a contemporary science or a dystopian but Meg Cabot makes us believe that a fifteen year old girl saved the life of the president and is suddenly super famous. Its fantastic and addicting and just plain fun to read.
Oh Sarah Dessen. Oh, oh Sarah Dessen. I love each and every one of your books but this by far is my favorite of yours. I love the main character, Remy Starr, and I love the male character, Dexter, EVEN MORE. Sarah said at the Festival of Books that Dexter has his own fan club basically and that sounds about right. Remy Starr is used to being in control, and this started with the fact that she has been in control of her mother and her many marriages her entire life. Its no surprise when that control flows over to her relationship. She doesn’t believe in the forever, she doesn’t believe in love. She believes in having fun for the moment but that every relationship has its expiration date. That is, until she meets Dexter, who comes to town with his band, Truth Squad. Dexter is out of control; his curly hair is all over the place, his shoes are always on time, he’s always tripping on things, everything that disrupts her perfect world. But after too many chance encounters, she agrees to date him, and all her rules go out the window. I liked this book because I really like Remy. Remy is the exact opposite of me. She’s such a dynamic character, such a strong one. I have never been a dynamic character; I’ve always had dynamic best friends. I think I envied Remy and her ability to be confident and aloof and perfect. Of course, she isn’t perfect but I liked watching her journey to realizing that she isn’t perfect and nothing can be controlled like she wants it to be.
Okay, maybe this isn’t the most contemporary of young adult novels and doesn’t fit on the list, because its more like a paranormal novel series but I put it on here because its barely paranormal when compared to the tons and tons of paranormal romances that have been hitting the shelves in the last few years. The story follows Suzannah Simon as she moves from New York City to Carmel, California to live with her mom, her new stepdad and her three new stepbrothers. Everything is okay, until Suze sees her new house, and its old…and that’s never a good thing for her. An old building means there’s more likely going to be some ghosts hanging about…and unsurprisingly, there’s a 150 year old ghost hanging out in her bedroom, and an extremely hot one, at that. Like I said, not the most contemporary, but I consider it because the supernatural aspect of the novel isn’t overwhelming, not like with the novels we get nowadays. Suze just wants to be a normal teenager, going to dances and dates, and all that, without having to worry about ghosts all the time. This was the first series besides the Princess Diaries that I read of Meg Cabot, and as you’ve noticed from how many times she appears on this list…I really love her so much. She tells great stories, and again with the phenomenonal but in a very funny and contemporary way. She’s brilliant.
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So there you are guys, my top ten contemporary young adult novels. See, I can read books that don’t always have a fantasy or supernatural or science fiction-y feel to them, though I guess I couldn’t get through the entire list without including some haha.
What are some of your favorite young adult books?
As always, let me know in the comments :)