Looking to delve into YA?
Our Highpoint team have put together a ‘must read’ list for you!
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta:
This book is one of my all-time favourites. I read Looking for Alibrandi seventeen years ago and it is still the book I go back to when I don’t feel like reading anything else. I grew up in a very stereotypical Anglo family so getting an insight into Josie’s “Wog” family was not only enlightening, but it was like sitting outside someone’s house and peering into their life. While Josie and I were so different in so many ways her character is still so relatable to all teenage girls. A crush on the popular boy, being friend-zoned by that boy, driving lessons with Dad, hanging out at the skate park with your best friends, the overbearing family member, losing your best friend, falling in love with the bad boy, feeling like you don’t fit in and being bullied by the popular girl… It all resonates. When you finish reading Looking for Alibrandi, Josie will feel like a long lost friend. I have made my nieces read this book and I recommend it to anyone who has a teenage daughter. I remember when the movie came out, my Mum took me to see it, she was extremely concerned about the content but knew how much I loved the book so gave in. When Mum came out of the cinema she said to me “See, We may not be cool, we may be annoying and some days you will hate us but at the end of the day, your family is always there and we love you no matter what trouble you get in to… But please don’t ever get on a motorbike with a boy.” I think I grunted at her and told her to stop being so emotional but that has always stuck with me, just like the book has. – Chaille
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews:
This unique coming-of-age novel is told from the perspective of 17-year-old rookie-filmmaker Greg Gaines, and begins on his first day of senior year. Things were going as well as he could expect, until he gets home to the news that his “sort-of-kinda-not-really ex-girlfriend” from Hebrew school, Rachel, has been diagnosed with leukemia. His mum forces him to befriend her and eventually, the two rekindle their friendship. And before you think, “Ugh, not another John Green“, think again.
One of the things I loved most about this book was that it was so genuine. It didn’t have some sappy, unrealistic love story; there were no deep, philosophical conversations about life and death; and best of all, it didn’t romanticise a terminal illness. It was just three teenagers trying to make it through high-school in all their awkward, self-deprecative, sarcastic glory. The characters and their interactions are hilarious – I don’t think I’ve ever literally laughed out loud this often whilst reading a book – and the unique format that incorporates screenplay excerpts and lists was fun and original. This book is unlike anything you have ever, or will ever, read, and is by far my favourite YA book of all time. – Kayla
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer:
You don’t mess with magical creatures, especially is they have laser guns, invisibility shields and jetpacks to go with their magic. Yet teenage criminal genius Artemis Fowl intends to do just that. He plans to kidnap an elven police officer and ransom her back to people. He thinks he has everything planned out…
A hilarious book with action and drama to boot. Colfer’s writing drives the plot forward whilst allowing the amazing cast of characters their time in the sun, the wise-cracking tech head centaur and also-wise-cracking dwarven thief personal favourites. I’ve loved this series for many years and for a very good reason, it’s just that good. – Jai
Once by Morris Glietzman:
Once focuses on ten-year-old Felix, the son of two Jewish booksellers growing up in Poland in 1942.
Felix has lived in a catholic orphanage for 3 years and 8 months, after his parents hid him there for safety. He believes that someday they will come back to get him, but they never do. Later, a group of men known as Nazis come to the orphanage and start burning books. Felix believes that these men must hate books, and decides he must find his parents to warn them.
What makes Once so hard to put down, is the true naivety of Felix to the events occurring around him. He uses fictitious stories to turn starvation, death and violence into justifiable acts that he can understand. And as this becomes more and more impossible, readers get to grow and come to grips with it just as he does.
In his story, Morris Glietzman succeeds in painting a picture of the true destruction of innocence it must have been, to be a child during the holocaust. This is a book that every young reader should attempt. – Isabelle
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
Panem… a world where one city, known as “The Capitol”, controls everything…
The Twelve districts are forced to give up one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to fight in the “Hunger Games”- a battle to the death in a maze of deception. Some districts have volunteers that will train all year or indeed, all their lives, to take part in this crazed battle. Other districts do not have the funds for food, let alone training. These districts have their representatives drawn from a lottery controlled by The Capitol who forces people to put their name in the draw so they can receive food. In District 12, When Katniss Everdeen’s twelve year old sister Prim’s name is drawn, she has little choice but to take her place, to preserve her sister’s life. Katniss swears to Prim that she will win. Although Katniss does not believe that she will come out alive, she plans to fight as long as she can, with the promise to her sister constant in her mind.
Due to the current financial state of District 12, Katniss has been close to starvation many times, but continued to hunt for her family and fight to stay alive, surely she can draw on this experience to help her survive as long as she can.
Before “The Games” Katniss is forced, with her male counterpart from District 12, Peta, to put on a display to earn herself sponsors, who may choose to help her during The Games. This involves an extravagant lifestyle Katniss is completely uncomfortable with and which only serves to anger her, knowing that her family are starving in District 12 while she sits waiting to die surrounded by food and anything she could need. She is subjected to outlandish attire and ridiculous interviews that are simply displays of acting talent to see who can create the best persona and earn themselves the approval of a crowd of rich socialites.
During all of this, Katniss can only draw on that fact that she and Peta are in the same boat and that someone understands her pain in this situation. Peta is a much better showman than Katniss and gains acceptance more easily. At the advice of their Handler, it is decided that they will portray a romantic relationship to the people of “The Capitol” in an attempt to Have Katniss liked by the masses through Peta’s charm and create a relationship that will be cared about – as far as it’s entertainment value. But Katniss already has a romantic partner, how will this affect him? Will Katniss’ close relationship with Peta be her downfall?
Katniss and Peta must train with the competitors from all the other districts and quickly realises they are massively out-matched. Some of these children have been training their entire lives for this battle to the death… All Katniss has is her bow skill and Peta has a good ability to hide. How are they any match for these warriors? During training, Katniss befriends a young girl from District 11 named Rue. During The Games, Rue helps Katniss to survive.
Will Katniss allow someone else to win so they do not have to die?
Will Katniss have to kill?
Who will win this Hunger Games?
Will Katniss survive?
Believe me, you will not want to stop reading until you have the answer to all of these questions. – Sam-Maree
The Maze Runner by James Dashner:
The Maze Runner begins with a boy, Thomas, waking up in the Glade, surrounded by a giant maze. He soon realises that he isn’t alone, with a large group of kids being in close proximity all with a similar story. They know their names and that is all they can remember. They must find a way out of the maze to get to the real truth about the world outside. The first of James Dashner’s Maze Runner series, which is now also a motion picture, this book is fast paced and well written. It is reminiscent of The Hunger Games in a lot of ways and if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series you’re sure to enjoy The Maze Runner and its sequels. – Eric
Lunar chronicles 1: Cinder by Marissa Meyer:
The Lunar Chronicles is a brilliant adaptation of the fairy tales we all know and love put into a futuristic, science fiction context. The first book follows Cinder, based off of Cinderella.
Cinder is a cyborg, with a unknown past, owned by her cruel step mother thanks to the laws against her kind, and is forced to work as a mechanic on the streets of New Beijing, which have been infected by a virus of unknown origins. Because of her reputation as one of the best mechanics New Beijing has seen, Prince Kai seeks Cinder out to repair a castle android, but when he finds her, she becomes the focus of his thoughts.
As the charming princes’ affections for Cinder increase, he becomes the object of a suspicious marriage proposal from the wicked Queen of the moon colony, Levana. With a kingdom plagued by a disease of unknown origins, and a malevolent Queen’s wicked plan, Cinder may be in the centre of it all.
Cinder will take you away into an amazing utopia turned dystopia, and make you want more! Marissa Meyer is a genius! – Tyler
Uglies by Scott Westerfield:
The first in a four book series, Uglies, is set in a post-apocalyptic future society that holds three values above anything else, Sustainability, Peace, and Equality, where at the age of sixteen everyone undergoes an intensive operation to become ‘pretty’. Told all her life that she is ‘ugly’ Tally Youngblood is excited to turn sixteen, become ‘pretty’ and join her parents and friends on the other side of the river where she will want for nothing. Her friend Shay doesn’t share the sentiment however. Tally is confronted with the concept that maybe being pretty isn’t everything it has always seemed to be and is forced to make a choice; betray her friends, or stay ‘ugly’ forever.
A dystopian coming of age story where at the heart of it all a young girl has to make some tough decisions that will affect not only her but her friends and potentially her entire civilisation but still wants what society tells all young girls they should want, to be pretty. I first read this novel in high school and was thrilled by a heroine that was intelligent and brave but still struggled with issues and feelings that most teens deal with now. Written from Tally’s point of view, it is an easy read filled with youthful slang and vivid world building that shows just how overvalued beauty can be – a theme that can easily be translated to our own cultures obsession with beauty and its worth. It does all this while also promoting themes of individuality and finding one’s own identity in an interesting sci-fi landscape. I’d recommend this to anyone that enjoys YA dystopian novels such as The Maze Runner or Hunger Games series. – Madeleine