YA Book Reviews by Amy
YA Book Reviews by Amy: Books Our Librarians Love
I have asked some of our librarians to tell me their favorite YA novels and I received an overwhelming response.
These are 6 books that are not only beloved by me, but also some of my colleges.
Graceling by Kirstin Cashore (Chosen by Ms. Missy)
In this realm, people are born with graces: the power to excel in a particular thing. Sometimes the grace can be something useful or something useless; Katsa, as the niece to the king, has had the ability to kill a man since she was little—she has a killing grace, and is used as an assassin to the king. When she is on a mission she meets Po, a Prince to a neighboring land. They form a friendship and Katsa begins to question her role within the kingdom.
I was so excited to see Ms. Missy mention this fantastic fantasy read! Truly one of my favorites as well. If you enjoyed this book, check out the prequel Fire and the sequel Bitterblue. It is an addicting fantasy world that I enjoyed reading.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Chosen by Ms. Sarah)
The Civil War did not end the way history has told it; zombie creatures are created from the dead and the world is not safe. Jane is an Attendant, a person hired to protect the wealthy from the shamblers. When her former flame, Jackson, asks Jane to help find his missing sister, Jane and an unlikely companion in Katherine, also an Attendant, decide to head West to a “safe” commune after Baltimore is overran by shamblers.
This is a twist on historical fiction with a horror element. Jane is a fierce main character with a strong will and is very likable. This year Justina Ireland came out with the sequel to Dread Nation called Deathless Divide. If you really like this book and want to read more, check out Three Sides of a Heart: Stories about Love Triangles because there is a short story written by Ireland called Dread South. Ms. Sarah and I probably spend too much time gushing about this book!
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Chosen by Ms. Andrea)
The original, and many suggest, the first YA title. Ponyboy is a Greaser and an orphan; he is raised by his older brothers Darry and Sodapop. When he is jumped by the richer and more privileged Socs (socials), Ponyboy knows that he must stay out of trouble. One night after a fight with his brothers, Ponyboy and Johnny, a fellow Greaser and friend, find themselves in a situation with deadly consequences.
This is my favorite book that I have ever read in class. I was a freshman when I had to read The Outsiders; I fell in love by the first sentence “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” To this day, I have Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” memorized. I love this story about brotherhood. Watch The Outsiders if you can; a classic 80’s movie that stays true to the original work. Ms. Andrea considers this the YA classic and so do I!
This title is available on Overdrive.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Chosen by Mr. John)
The largest maritime tragedy, the 1945 sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner, was in the process of transferring refugees to safety when it was hit by torpedoes by a Soviet submarine. Following four characters: a fanatic, power hungry, and delusional German Nazi, a Lithuanian girl who dreams of working in the medical profession, a Prussian con artist, and a young Polish girl with a secret. These characters are seeking safety while unknowingly they are heading toward disaster.
Another Ruta Septys historical novel that is a powerful read. Septys makes you care about the fates of her characters; the tension between the readers’ want of the characters safety juxtaposed to the character’s journey toward disaster is suspenseful and stressful. Plus this book made me research more about the Wilhelm Gustloff. I’m so happy that Mr. John read this book (since I told him how much I loved it) and he enjoyed it!
Available on Overdrive.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Chosen by Ms. Ashley)
In this realistic YA fiction, two boys meet at the local swimming pool. Set in the 1980’s, this book follows two years of Aristotle and Dante’s friendship. Aristotle must deal with the anger he has about his brother being in prison and his struggle to connect with his parents. Dante is everything Ari is not; he is charming, happy, and has a fantastic relationship with his parents. Ari and Dante will learn from each other.
The love that I have for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe knows no bounds. The relationship between the two main characters (as well as the relationship with their parents) was so powerful. This is another book that has LGBTQ+ representation that I really appreciate. I am so glad that Ms. Ashley loved this book as much as I did!
Odd One Out by Nic Stone (Chosen by Ms. Alex)
Courney and Jupiter have been friends since they were young, but lately there might be an attraction between them, but Jupiter has always liked girls and Courtney is definitely not female. When Rae moves into town, a friendship blossoms between the three. Both Courtney and Jupiter start falling for Rae. Nic Stone explores romantic relationships and identity in this contemporary tale about strong friendships.
I am glad that Ms. Alex chose this title because I think that this is an important read to YA readers that may have questions about their identity and provides a realistic depiction of the ever-changing relationships. This book has LGBTQ+ characters.
Available on Overdrive.