There are many worthy series and novels out right now—YA is getting bigger and bigger with lots of Steampunk, fairytales, and dystopias right now. In the last eleven years, two children’s books have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel against all sf and f novels, kids and adult: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2001) and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2009). (Gaiman’s Coraline won as Best Novella in 2003.) So show your support for YA/Middle Grade, and start nominating! These books are also all eligible for the Hugo Award for best novel, and some really deserve it!
Your own comments/recommendations are welcome here of course.
Books I enthusiastically recommend:
These are fun for adults as well as teens and really something special in the spec fic world. As for my taste, I like epic fantasy, retold fairytales, and some steampunk but mostly I don’t like the teen books that feel like literature lite, with shallow, vapid prose and a love triangle as the main plot. Nonwestern fantasy and action heroines are a plus, but basically, I like the story to be as dense and interesting as adult novels. Humor’s good too. Here are some I found really exceptional:
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
With Valente’s typical poetic beauty, a rough-and-tumble Snow White sets off adventuring through the old west. Unlike anything ever, and that takes talent.
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
A delightful steampunk comedy of manners with vampires, werewolves, and a finishing school for accomplished spies. Fun and funny, for a younger crowd than Carriger’s previous romantic adventures.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
As a teen goes off to college, she must reconcile her geeky obsession with a beloved character, Simon Snow, with her desire to fit in and grow up. It’s a book for the fan in all of us and a sensation sweeping through the teen community.
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices book 3) by Cassandra Clare
The author of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (this past summer’s hot teen movie) wraps up her steampunk trilogy delightfully—it’s sweet and romantic, epic, and roll-on-the-floor funny. The snarky, loving, tragic and conflicted teens drive the story as they’re caught in an atypical love triangle and battling the confines of their society.
(For normal Hugos, apparently there’s a part of the rules that allows an entire series to be nominated if the final book in said series was published and is eligible in its own year. I’d recommend this for The Infernal Devices, absolutely.)
Books I also recommend
Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
The Scarlet Pimpernel retold in a pacific island dystopia, with a female hero battling the legacy of genetic engineering. Yes, she’s a bit teenagerish, but also a delightful mistress of disguise and subterfuge, like the original.
Pivot Point by Kasie West
A girl who can see into her future must look to see how her life will unfold—living with her mom among those with mental gifts or with her dad in the normal world. This “sliding doors” style double story has intriguing parallels and twists between the two adventures.
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
This debut fantasy novel hails from south Sudan, for those seeking something a bit different. Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, sets out for Olondria, a land filled with books, unlike his own. Accompanied by a young girl’s ghost, he faces a civil war between rival cults as he struggles to understand the true magic of reading.
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
After a nuclear winter, survivors in Brazil sacrifice their summer king eachc year. This dystopian debut explores society’s corruption as a soulful young artist is chosen.
The Girl with the Iron Touch (The Steampunk Chronicles book 3) by Kady Cross
This book wraps up a delightful, fast and funny steampunk romp in the style of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In this final adventure, the clever Irish mechanic who intuitively links with machines attempts to win her lover—the cyborg she created—as her misfit team of heroes battles to save the queen.
House of Hades
A new Percy Jackson, in the Roman series with more multiculturalism and more depth. This book featured a character coming out, and the typical web hullaballoo accompanying such things.
Inheritance by Malinda Lo
The author of the literature-sweeping “lesbian Cinderella” novel Ash brings out book two in her science fiction dystopia. Reese and David, adapted with alien DNA, are on the run for their lives as the heroine faces a love triangle with a girl as well as a boy. The author’s writing is warm, surprising, and delightful honest and personal.
Book three of the Divergent series wraps things up much as Mockingjay did—by turning everything on its head and revealing a far different revolution than the teen heroine was battling in the first two books. Epic and stunning. Book one will be this spring’s big teen movie.
(For normal Hugos, apparently there’s a part of the rules that allows an entire series to be nominated if the final book in said series was published and is eligible in its own year. I’d recommend this for The Divergent Series…I just liked the first two better.)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A startling and grisly adventure in a world of vampire segregation, in which a teen girl tries to overcome her guilt at the death of her mother.
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien became the prince’s champion in book one. Now in book two, her heart is torn between lovers, as plots spin from the court intrigue.
The Night Itself (The Name of the Blade #1)
by Zoë Marriott
A Japanese warrior-girl with her magic friends and magic katana. This fairytale adaptor brings adventure, magic and fun as the heroine quests on an epic adventure.
Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson’s new series in the Mistborn world. It’s a superhero story of the Epics and the few ordinary people who battle them, packed with fast-paced adventure and excitement.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Lady Isabella Trent, the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist, tells her diary-style account of a thrilling expedition amid romance and heart.
In the world of self-promotion, I must add that many of my nonfiction works are eligible for the Hugo for best related work. I’ve made two of them free for the next short while for anyone who would like to try them:
Winning the Game of Thrones: The Host of Characters and their Agendas
Free with coupon code HM23E or available in paperback with many reviews at http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Game-Thrones-Characters-Agendas/dp/0615817440
Doctor Who – The What, Where, and How: A Fannish Guide to the TARDIS-Sized Pop Culture Jam
Free with coupon code PU82T or available in paperback with many reviews at
Many thanks for reading!