30 May 2014

Armchair BEA: Middle Grade/YA

Here we are at the end of Archair BEA and the topic is:

Middle Grade/Young Adult
Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.

I love books for the younger crowd, and I am a firm believer that these youth-centered books offer depth and insight into human nature as well as examples of elegant and creative writing (just like books written for the older crowd).

The blogosphere is flush with YA - and in particular YA paranormal romance - and while I absolutely adore this genre, I will leave it alone for this post since so many others will give you suggestions. Instead I will focus on middle grade and some YA on the youngish side:

Middle Grade and Youngish YA

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: Delightfully clever and thematically important, The Phantom Tollbooth is about the quest for knowledge. Milo, and his sidekicks a watchdog and a Humbug, take this wonderfully allegorical and metaphorical journey that is bound to delight kids and adults alike.

The Underland chronicles by Suzanne Collins: Forget The Hunger Games, this is the Collins to read. The reader is treated to a wonderful adventure in a unique and well crafted world. Collins' has an artful way with words that really draws me in to the story, and I really appreciate the humor she intersperses throughout. If you enjoy action-packed, entertaining, and well written adventure stories for younger adults/older kids, you should definitely pick up this series!

Percy Jackson and The Olympians series by Rick Riordan:  I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a clever, action-packed, easy read. And I would especially recommend it for those who need a break from the I-would-slit-my-wrists-to-be-with-you love stories that permeate YAL.

The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness: One of the best series I've ever read whether middle grade, ya, or adult. Scenes throughout brought tears to my eyes, and even as the story challenged me intellectually (and in so many ways), I found myself continuously circling back to a love of the characters and a strong desire to see things through. Hell, I think I wanted to help them as crazy as that sounds. A feeling of urgency followed me throughout the entire series, every page, every shift in the plot, every revelation of character, pressed me to keep reading. These are truly books I do not want to put down.

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman:  I love this series so much because it is wonderfully constructed, the unique and deep characters, and the myriad issues it addresses. I would be so happy if people read the book and thought critically and independently about the issues present: theology, religion, authority, hylopathism, quantum physics, interpersonal relationships, coming of age, diversity, self-sacrifice, free will, and on and on and on.

I highly recommend running out and reading these books right now. What middle grade or youngish YA books do you suggest?


  1. I so wanted to love Chaos Walking but couldn't move on past the first book. I do really want to read His Dark Materials, though!

  2. I love His Dark Materials - one of my absolute favorites.

  3. CHAOS WALKING! A fave indeed. And I really need to get back to His Dark Materials and finish it. Even though I've heard ALL THE THINGS about that last book.

  4. His Dark Materials is a fantastic read! And I am curious about the Underland series because of the author - I should check it out sometime! Some of these I read when I was older, so I totally agree that there is a timelessness to MG and YA that can appeal to adults!

  5. Speaking of Patrick Ness, have you read A Monster Calls? It is so powerful, so sad, so moving--so much that is the best of middle grade!

  6. I loved the Chaos Walking series. Another great series is the "Bloody Jack" Faber and the Cat Royal series.

  7. I almost forgot about The Phantom Tollbooth and the His Dark Materials series. I enjoyed both of them a lot, thought my love for His Dark Materials kind of waned as the series went on, which is kind of the opposite of what you want to happen when you're reading a series. *scratches head* I read The Knife of Never Letting Go, but never got back to the rest of the Chaos Walking Series. I gotta finish that one!

  8. His Dark Materials was a great series, and I absolutely adored The Lightning Thief! Percy Jackson is one of my favorite characters! So likable.

  9. I really enjoyed His Dark Materials and the first book in the Chaos Walking series.


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