The Best YA Books You Haven't Read

Kelly from YAnnabe is hosting a one-day blog blitz called, you guessed it: The Best YA Books You Haven’t Read! It’s some complicated thing using LibraryThing stats (Kelly can explain more), but basically these books are owned by less than 500 people on LT. Considering Twilight is owned by 25,974 on LibraryThing alone, 500 is, uh. Piddly. And probably a good indicator of how popular these books are (read: not a lot).

And that’s really a shame, because these are some excellent books and they are among my favorites of all time. I’ve come up with a list of 10 excellent books that you should all read RIGHT NOW.

Okay, here goes:

  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs. Magic? Check. Creepy house? Check. Ghosts? Check. Excellent characters, plot, and writing? Check!
  • The Sylvia Game by Vivian Alcock. I think this is one of my most favorite books ever. It’s somewhere up there with Charmed Life. The atmosphere is fantastic, as is the writing and the plot. It’s creepy and heartbreaking and wonderful.
  • Operation Red Jericho: The Guild Specialists Book 1 by Joshua Mowll. This is the first book of a series that I’m surprised isn’t more popular. Okay: imagine maps. Imagine adventure. Imagine pirates, and swordfights, and 1920s awesomeness. Now imagine two protagonists, brother and sister, who are so realistic it’s almost scary. Oh! And imagine a big ship that’s basically like the Enterprise except not in space (and an actual ship that goes in the water). Now, put that all together and you get Operation Red Jericho!
  • Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. I actually reviewed this back in March 2009! Read my review here. I really love the protagonist; she’s sort of like a modern version of Harriet the Spy, but less abrasive?
  • A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence. I just reviewed this yesterday. Ha! Sci-fi creepiness mixed with realistic, heartbreaking real-life problems.
  • The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux. Reviewed it almost exactly a year ago exactly. I didn’t like the ending, but the rest of it was so could I can (almost) forgive it for doing that to me.
  • Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud. Yup, I reviewed it last year. I still can’t believe it’s not as popular as some other books– it’s a perfectly lovely pseudo-Viking fantasy with wonderful characters and plot twists aplenty.
  • The Floating Island by Elizabeth Hadley. Take the adventure in Operation Red Jericho, add fairy tale creatures, an extremely likable, non-human protagonist, and the promise of wonderful things to come, and you get The Floating Island. Review to come forthwith, but basically: ignore the cover and go for it.
  • Andromeda Klein by Frank Porter. I don’t read a lot of books with seriously messed-up kids in them, simply because they tend to make me sad. But this one has a messed-up kid who doesn’t make me sad, and who’s a nerd for all things magical and it’s all realistic and stuff. Well, almost realistic. Nearly completely realistic– you’ll just have to read my review for more details.
  • Spying on Miss Muller by Eve Bunting. This was probably the first book I ever read that was set in a boarding school, and it was so good that it made me obsessed with boarding schools ever since! It’s set in World War II, in a British girls school, and it’s not at all twee like you might think. It’s kind of makes me go “ow” in the heart area, actually, when I’m not squealing about the boarding school stuff. Think sort of in the Judy Blume area if you need an author reference.

So, those are my top 10 best YA books you haven’t read. What are yours?

Special Bonus List!

As a special treat, here are some books which I haven’t read and neither have you, but we should both fix that ASAP. Okay? Okay.

  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. I’ve honestly been obsessed with reading this ever since reading Eva’s review. She says: “Here’s what I knew before I started reading the book: there were twins in it. All the blurbs used the phrase ‘neo-gothic.’ And one of the twins had pica, which is some psychological disorder that makes you want to eat inedible things and not eat real food.”
  • Gentlemen by Michael Northrop. I’ve had this on my “someday I’ll read this” list since June 2009. (Okay, so when I say ASAP I actually mean “sometime before I die.” Spotted it at YA New York. Brina says: “Gentlemen is Michael Northrop’s debut YA novel, and it’s so awesome that it actually made me consider reading Crime and Punishment, that great opus by Fyodor Dostoevsky.”
  • Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz. Came across this on Lee Wind’s blog, where he says: “They travel with Christopher Marlow (!) and the rest of the witches all over the US and England on a psychedelic journey that has them stealing money, a car, and has Gilly (the gay teen of the two friends) falling for a female witch!” Just the possibility of how awesome this book could be is making me itch with anticipation.
  • The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade. Court reviewed this. It’s a steampunk rewriting of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. C’MON HOW AWESOME IS THAT.

Now, that should be enough books to empty the wallet of even the most frugal of you. Go get ’em!

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14 thoughts on “The Best YA Books You Haven't Read”

  1. So I’m beginning to realize that I know NOTHING about all the great YA out there. The only title here I’ve even heard of is Heroes of the Valley. For shame!

    Cool idea with the bonus list & linking back to what made you want to read them. I want to start doing a better job of tracking the exact post that makes me add something to my TBR list, thanks for the inspiration!

  2. You’re right on the money — not only are these books I haven’t read, they’re also books I haven’t heard of! That’s actually really exciting to me. I’ll be expanding my TBR list very soon 🙂

  3. I love Ingrid in Down the Rabbit Hole its a great series!I’ve actually got a few of these on my TBR Pile already.Maybe they’ll have to move up.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a great list of books! The only once I’ve read is “The House with a Clock in its Walls”, which I absolutely loved! The “Hunchback Assignments” is on my bookshelf now, waiting to be read for the YA Reading Challenge. 🙂

  5. I used to love Vivian Alcock’s books as a teenager! sadly they’re out of print now:(
    Also, I like the sound of Down the rabboit hole.I have a vague recollection of someone in work saying it was good, but you sold it to me comparing it to Harriet the Spy! me loves Harriet.
    Andromeda Klein also goes on the wish list!

  6. Gentlemen, The Hunchback Assignments and Down the Rabbit Hole are definitely being added to be TBR list, which is becoming a bit unmanagable with all the great Unsung suggestions!

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