Young adult books, as many people are recognizing these days, are not just for teens. In fact, adults make up the majority of young adult book purchasers. With that in mind, here are a few of my young adult picks from the past year that that should appeal to people of all ages.
“Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys: In 1941, 15-year old Lina, her mother and younger brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet soldiers.
They are sent to work camps in Siberia, while the fate of Lina’s father is unknown. Lina, her family and fellow Lithuanians struggle to maintain their humanity while enduring brutal cold, near starvation, disease and cruelty from Soviet soldiers.
To cope with her horrific situation, Lina, a gifted artist, draws in secret, hoping that one day someone will find her pictures and her story will be told.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green: At age sixteen, Hazel is a stage IV thyroid cancer survivor. Her life is hanging by a thread, as an experimental drug temporarily keeps her alive, but no one knows how long it will be effective.
At her parents’ insistence, she begins attending a weekly support group for teens living with cancer. It is here that she meets Gus, a fellow cancer survivor.
They fall in love. Green deals with the tough issues in this novel — life, death and love —with honesty and sensitivity. Although this book tackles a serious subject, there is a good deal of wit and humor that keeps it from devolving into a cry fest. However, you may not want to completely abandon that box of Kleenex!
“Bzrk” by Michael Grant: Conjoined twins, Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, are the evil and twisted owners of Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation.
They have a master plan to take over the world and turn it into their version of Utopia. Opposing them is a secret organization, code name BZRK, in which members take the names of the famously insane.
This is no ordinary war, however.
Here, the weapons of choice are nanobots the size of dust mites and the battlefield is inside the human brain. The price of war to combatants is often insanity, loss of memory or free will and even death. Atrocities are committed on both sides; it is often impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. Although this book is science fiction, the ethical and philosophical issues Grant raises held my attention long after I was done reading.
“I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga: Jazz is your average teenager growing up in the sleepy little town of Lobo’s Nod, except for one little thing. His dad is one of the most notorious serial killers in history.
Before finally being captured by police,Jazz’s father murdered over 100 victims and passed on many of his secrets to Jazz along the way, hoping that one day Jazz would follow in his footsteps.
Growing up with a sociopath has left Jazz with nightmares and the constant fear that he will inevitably end up just like dear old Dad.
As if life isn’t complicated enough, bodies are beginning to pile up in Lobo’s Nod again. Jazz is determined to help the sheriff with the investigation but unbeknownst to the police, Jazz has his own secret. If you are easily spooked, you might want to read this one with the lights on.
“Never Fall Down” by Patricia McCormick: This National Book Award Finalist is a fictionalized retelling of the childhood of Cambodian human rights activist, Arn Chorn-Pond.
Arn is only eleven years old in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge marches into his Cambodian town and forces everyone into the country to work as slave laborers. Arn is separated from his family and is witness to atrocities that will make your stomach turn. As the Killing Fields pile up with bodies, Arn does whatever it takes to survive before he is eventually rescued and brought to America.
This is not an easy book to read, but it is certainly unforgettable.
If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts or a great book to read over Christmas break, try out one of these I’ve mentioned or check out one of the many other great reads in our young adult area.