Phantasma’s author, Penelope Reece has been kind enough to give me an e-copy of her book so I can review it. So far, I’m liking it quite a lot. In the meantime, I thought I’d do a top ten list on must-read books in the YA genre. After gathering my favorite books, I found that I had seventeen and not ten books like I had hoped. What’s more, there were fantasy/paranormal books in the mix which made it kind of hard to fit them into my list. SO, I’ve decided to make two lists, one for normal YA books and the other for fantasy/paranormal YA books. So, here we go.
Please click on the image to view the Goodreads page of the book. MUST-READ NON-FANTASY/PARANORMAL YA BOOKS: 10. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
I know this is more tween than teen (but it becomes more teen as the series progresses), but boy, is this series fun to read. Sure, it’s not very “literary” and includes a lot of pop culture references, but who cares when it’s this good? This series, which has 14 books in total, is in the epistolary format and makes for an uber-satisfying read when you’re in the mood for a light but also thoughtful read. My early teen years were spent getting nose-deep in The Princess Diaries books.
Books in the series: The Princess Diaries, Princess In Spotlight, Princess In Love, Princess In Waiting, Project Princess, Princess In Pink, Princess In Training, The Princess Present, Party Princess, Sweet Sixteen Princess, Valentine Princess, Princess On The Brink, Princess Mia, Forever Princess, Princess Lessons, Holiday Princess, Perfect Princess
9. When It Happens by Susane Colasanti
I read this book when I was in my final year of high school and I could totally relate to it. I picked the book up thinking it would be a cheesy high school romance with cliché characters. But it had surprising depth and the lead guy Tobey is wonderful. The protagonist is likeable for a change and their chemistry is believable and real. A must-read for mid to late teens.
8. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Looking at the cover of the book, you would think it’s just another book about a girl who has a bunch of boys fawning over her, but the cover doesn’t do this book any justice at ALL. This book is so heart-felt and touching, plus it describes exactly how you feel when you’re an adolescent. It talks about an adolescent’s feelings when one of your parents is suffering from depression and also how said adolescent would cope in an almost all-boys school. It is funny and deep. What more can you ask for?
7. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
I decided to include these books not because of their plots (although the plots are good too), but the style of writing. Levithan and Cohn have such a unique and fresh way of writing and their characters are always likeable and relatable no matter what. I love both books, but if I had to choose one among the two, I’d choose Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (which was made into an awesome movie) maybe because I’m a big music freak and the book has a lot of amazing music references. If you’ve already seen the movie version of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, try the book version. It’s a zillion times better. As for Dash and Lily’s book of dares, I was skeptical about it at first because there’s only so much you can do with such a concept, but the book didn’t have one boring scene. My only complaint would be that the kissing scene had been a little better. But it was still an awesome book, so, don’t NOT read it.
6. Easy by Tammara Webber
Again, when I picked this up, I was expecting it to be a light read. I so didn’t foresee the emotional rollercoaster I was about to step into. This was amazing on so many levels I don’t have words to describe how amazing it was. The book has some serious subject matter (the R word), but it deals with it in a really honest way. And, the chemistry between the two leads? Oh my God, it was burning, sizzling, hot! I couldn’t, didn’t want to put the book down!
5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
This was one of my earliest YA reads and still remains one of my favorites. The male lead, Alex is such a sexy badass that I couldn’t stop thinking about him for days after reading the book. And the girl is amazing too. Their chemistry is face-smackingly good (obvs) and when I finished reading the book, I had this big, goofy smile on my face that just wouldn’t go away. It was THAT satisfying. But I have to say the rest of the books in the series were not as satisfying as the first one.
4. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
I wish more people read this book because it is so beautifully written. Each line feels like it was ripped out of your heart. And the pictures. Oh, the pictures! The author drew them herself and I have to say, they add a special feel to the book. If you’re into backpacking (and even if you’re not), you’d love reading this book. It does help that Hubbard is a travel writer, I guess. When you’re reading it, it does feel like you’re travelling alongside Bria and Rowan. Bria’s issues with her ex-boyfriend feel so real and they way Rowan and Bria come together in the end is just… beautiful. I loved, loved, loved it.
3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
So much has already been said about this book across the Internet and I have very less to add. This book is a wonderful, wonderful love story of two people, Anna and Etienne (fabulous name, huh?), who go to a school in Paris. And I don’t tell you that Paris makes for a really magical place to fall in love in. When you read this book, you’ll be cheering for Anna and Etienne to unite with all your heart. And the scene where they both sleep in the same bed and do nothing but overthink the whole thing? So freaking sexy.
2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
For whatever reason, before I read the book, I looked at the cover and thought ‘Sarah Dessen-like romance’. I didn’t read the blurb and thank God for it, because I would never have picked it up otherwise. You see, I have a thing against sad, depressing books. And this book was exactly that. Sad, depressing and heartbreaking. I read it at a very dark time in my life, when I myself was suffering from depression and feeling really down. I could totally relate to it and it made me cry rivers of tears into my pillow. Every word in the book felt like I had written them myself. And I loved the moral of the story, that every small action of every person we know affects us in some deep way.
1. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Okay, what can I say about this? This is my favorite Dessen book and Owen is my favorite Dessen hero (and my favorite Dessen heroine, btw, is Colie from Keeping The Moon). Owen has anger issues and Annabel is a rape victim. The romance between them is heartrendingly beautiful and reading about it, you’d wish you had someone like Owen in your life. And at the end of the book, (***MILD SPOILER HERE***) when Owen gives the dick Will a black eye, I punched the air with my fist and yelled “Woo!” so loudly my mom thought I had gone crazy (***END OF SPOILER***). I think I’m a little bit in love (read: obsessed) with Owen. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Owen, like me, is very serious about his music.
Okay, so, now onto the fantasy/paranormal list.
MUST-READ FANTASY/PARANORMAL YA BOOKS:
7. The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I started the first book of this series, Half-blood, two days before my exams. Bad decision. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I didn’t want to shower. I just wanted to sit in a corner and read the book. If anyone approached me, I bit their heads off for pulling me away from my Aiden (er, Alex’s Aiden). So. Anyway. The storyline of this series kind of reminded me of the Vampire Academy series. But having started VA and never finished it, I thought this was better than Vampire Academy. And the series gets better with every book. The latest book in the series, Apollyon was released last month and it was super-fabulous.
Books in the series: Daimon, Half-blood, Pure, Deity, Elixir, Apollyon, Sentinel (unreleased)
6. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
I had low expectations for City of Bones (mainly because a lot of people said good things about it and I’ve been disappointed way too many times because of that), but this one surprised me. I liked Clary, the protagonist, Simon, her best friend, Jace, her romantic interest, Alec, Isabelle, Magnus and every other damn character in the book. I even liked Valentine, for God’s sake. So, if you don’t like the book, there’s something wrong with you. That said, I’m not a fan of the extended series, aka, any book after Book 3. But the first 3 books are awesome, so do check out!
Books in the series: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire (unreleased)
5. The Ghost and the Goth Series by Stacey Kade
OMG, this series was so hilarious! Will and Alona are now one of my favorite couples. I liked how Will and Alona didn’t like each other at first, but then, gradually learnt to see the good in each other. And it has such a unique storyline too. If I saw someone with Will Killian’s eyes, I would probably jump his bones right then and there. And Alona is such a kickass heroine. She is a nice mean girl, if you know what I mean.
Books in the series: The Ghost and the Goth, Queen of the Dead, Body and Soul
4. Hex Hall Series by Rachel Hawkins
I loved the protagonist’s voice so much in this book. She is funny, sarcastic and totally the kind of girl I would like to be friends with. And the banter between Archer and Sophie is just adorable. Archer is just perfect for Sophie and her smart mouth. They are meant to be. And the twist at the end of the first book just about killed me.
Books in the series: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound
3. Nevermore Series by Kelly Creagh
Although I have a thing for brooding boys, I have never had the hots for an emo or goth boy. Before I read Nevermore. Varen (which, btw, is one of the weirdest names I’ve ever read in my book-reading experience) is a goth boy with piercings, black wardrobe and the works. He’s into Edgar Allen Poe and drawing sketches. Isobel Lanley is a popular girl who is initially creeped out by Varen. Not the makings of a love story, right? Well, wait till they’re both paired off on an English project. Soon, sparks fly and Isobel starts to fall for Varen. But Varen has secrets of his own and Isobel is somehow dragged into his secrets (or secret world, if you will). The ending of each book in the series is a huge cliffhanger that makes you want to throw the book against the wall. I’ve not read the final book yet, but I have high hopes that it will be just as fantastic as the first two.
Books in the series: Nevermore, Enshadowed. Untitled Book 3
2. Angelfall Series by Susan Ee
I have only read one other “angel” book before and that is, Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. It was an okay book with good sexual tension between the characters, but the story just didn’t hook me in, you know. It didn’t make me reach for its sequels. And after that, I was kind of wary of other angel books. Angelfall had such good reviews (almost unanimously positive), but I was a little hesitant because the blurb sounded a little cliché. But the cover was pretty and like I said, it had good reviews on Goodreads, so I picked it up. I am so glad that I did. Because this is not a cliché story AT ALL. It was so different and unique that I had to pinch my arm a couple of times in between to check if I was indeed reading a YA paranormal book. And the protagonist is so freaking amazing! She is my favorite female YA paranormal lead right now. The romance between Penryn and Raffe is so believable and Raffe is just delicious to read about. The book has a lot of humor, romance, action and emotions that will never leave you bored at any point in the story. And, it SO bugs me that this book is not as famous as it deserves to be. I mean, how come books like this have to be self-published when other crappy books manage to get publishing deals? I am offended on behalf of Miss Susan Ee. So, if you’ve not read this book and still refuse to pick up this book after reading this, I hate you. No, really.
Books in the series: Angelfall, Untitled Book 2, Untitled Book 3
1. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Okay, what else were you expecting in this spot? I know, almost everyone would have read this, but still I have to put this on the list. This is the series that started my love for magical worlds. I read this as a twelve year old, but even when I re-read this now, I enjoy it immensely. These books deserver every credit that has been bestowed on it and more. I loved it so much that even after four years since last reading it, I could name every character, magical object and curse in the series. For the poor souls who have not read it, you’re missing out on SO much.
Books in the series: Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
So, there you go. This is my list(s) of must-read books. Do you think any other book deserves a place here?