Young Adult Fiction: Top 15

This rec list lists some of my favourite young adult books, and each one is very different from the other. There is a little something for everyone here (and you don’t have to be a teen to enjoy them!). Recs are in no particular order. Each book will have a link to it’s entry on Indigo’s website (Canadian book company), a link to a wikipedia entry (if there is one), a brief summary, a list of books in the series, and original publish date.

WARNING: Wikipedia entries contain spoilers; read at your own risk.

1. Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson
First published: 1996
Wikipedia link: Awake and Dreaming
Summary: Theo Caffrey lives with her young mother in the slums of Vancouver, and often dreams of living with a “real” family. On a ferry ride on her way to stay with her aunt in Victoria, Theo meets what she feels is a “perfect” family – the Kaldors. After making a wish that she belonged to them, and then fainting, Theo wakes up to find herself living with the Kaldor family. But the magic doesn’t last forever, and Theo desperately tries to find a way back to the family she came to love as her own.

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
First Published: 1993
Sequels: Gathering Blue, Messenger
Wikipedia Link: The Giver
Summary: Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

3. The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn
First Published: 1997
Prequels: The Root Cellar, Shadow on Hawthorne Bay
Wikipedia Link: The Hollow Tree
Summary: It is 1777 and Phoebe Olcott is thrown headlong into the horrors of war when her beloved cousin Gideon is hanged for being a British spy. When she finds a message left by Gideon containing the names of Loyalist families to be protected by the King”s army, Phoebe knows she must deliver the message to the general at Fort Ticonderoga. She sets out into the wilderness and soon meets up with Jem, a young Loyalist travelling to the safety of British Canada.
Note: The Hollow Tree is the third book in a trilogy. As I just found this out today, the book is fine as a stand alone and you do not need to read the other two books first. In actuality, the trilogy is almost a reverse trilogy, with The Hollow Tree being almost a prequel to the first book published in 1981, The Root Cellar.

()4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
First Published: 1977
Wikipedia Link: Bridge to Terabithia
Summary: Jess Aaron’s greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new kid, a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boy’s side of the playground and outruns everyone.
That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

5. Forbidden City by William Bell
First Published: 1990
Wikipedia Link: Forbidden City
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Alex Jackson comes home from school to find that his father, a CBC news cameraman, wants to take him to China”s capital, Beijing. Once there, Alex finds himself on his own in Tian An Men Square as desperate students fight the Chinese army for their freedom. Separated from his father and carrying illegal videotapes, Alex must trust the students to help him escape.

6. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
First Published: 1997
Wikipedia Link: Ella Enchanted
Summary: At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy’s gift — the “gift’ of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse — once and for all.

7. The Wave by Todd Strasser
First Published: 1981
Wikipedia Link: The Wave
Summary: The Wave is based on a true incident that occured in a high school history class in Palo Alto, California, in 1969.
The powerful forces of group pressure that pervaded many historic movements such as Nazism are recreated in the classroom when history teacher Burt Ross introduces a “new” system to his students. And before long “The Wave,” with its rules of “strength through discipline, community, and action, ” sweeps from the classroom through the entire school. And as most of the students join the movement, Laurie Saunders and David Collins recognize the frightening momentum of “The Wave” and realize they must stop it before it”s too late.

8. On Stage, Please by Veronica Tennant
First Published: 1979
Wikipedia Link: N/A
Summary: What nine-year-old Jennifer Allen wants most in the world is to be a ballet dancer. And, despite a discouraging debut under the tutelage of cigar-chomping Mr. Vincent, and the warning from her friend Danielle that “it’s not all glamour,” Jennifer is determined to follow her dream.

9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
First Published: 1962
Sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time
Wikipedia Link: A Wrinkle in Time
Summary: One stormy night a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and fantastic journey, a journey that will threaten their lives and our universe.

10. Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E. Pearson
First Published: 2001
Wikipedia Link: N/A
Summary: Kaitlin Malone hates the Crutchfields. Her family has feuded with that family for generations, and now her dad is in jail for killing one of them. This legacy of hatred has never been questioned–until Kaitlin falls for a Crutchfield boy. As if that’s not bad enough, that boy is the son of the man her father murdered.

11. Young Wizard Series by Diane Duane
First Published: 1983
List of Books: So You Want to be a Wizard, Deep Wizardry, High Wizardry, A Wizard Abroad, The Wizard’s Dilemma, A Wizard Alone, Wizard’s Holiday, Wizard’s at War, A Wizard of Mars (forthcoming)
Wikipedia Link: So You Want to be a Wizard
Summary: Something stopped Nita’s hand as it ran along the bookshelf. She looked and found that one of the books had a loose thread at the top of its spine. It was one of those So You Want to Be a . . . books, a series on careers. So You Want to Be a Pilot, and a Scientist . . . a Writer. But this one said, So You Want to Be a Wizard. I don’t belive this, Nina thought. She shut the book and stood there holding it in her hand, confused, amazed, suspicious–and delighted. If it was a joke, it was a great one. If it wasn’t . . . ?

12. How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
First Published: 2008
Wikipedia Link: N/A
Summary: Welcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all–especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenza (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have to resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy. The question is: will Charlie herself survive the fairy ditching experiment?

13. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
First Published: 1997
List of Books: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Wikipedia Link: HP and the Philosopher’s Stone
Summary: Harry Potter is living a miserable existence with his nasty relatives, the dastardly Dursleys and their son Dudley — who are quite unaware that he is not a Muggle (a human), and that he is in fact, destined for greatness. One day, owls begin to appear in the sky, peculiar people in cloaks loom in the shadows and before you can say “Alohomora,” Harry Potter is whisked away by a scruffy giant named Hagrid to train for his new life as a wizard.

14. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
First Published: 2005
List of Books: Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras
Wikipedia Link: Uglies
Summary: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

15. The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike
First Published: 1994
List of Books: The Last Vampire, The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood, The Last Vampire 3: Red Dice The Last Vampire 4: Phantom, The Last Vampire 5: The Evil Thirst, The Last Vampire 6: Creatures of Forever
Wikipedia Link: The Last Vampire
Summary: Alisa, a 5,000-year-old vampire, is being hunted by an unknown entity. In order to identify her pursuer, she must enter high school and befriend a shy boy who will attract her as no mortal ever has. Little does she know her life is about to get complicated; very complicated.

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