What I’ve Been Reading — YA Edition

I always feel strange passing judgement on books meant for kids. But my job sometimes demands that I read these books, and I really do enjoy many of them. As an adult, it sometimes feels silly to opine on a book that really wasn’t even written for you. So take these mini reviews with a grain of salt, I guess.


The Eighth Day: amazing premise about a magical eighth day that exists between Wednesday and Thursday. The main character is a young boy who learns he is one of those rare few who experiences the day. Author takes this in all kinds of fun directions. Fabulous world building, workmanlike writing. It’s a series, but unfortunately I couldn’t get into the second book. Go figure.

ages: 10 and older


One For the Murphys: enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It’s about a girl in foster care who goes to live with a loving family and has trouble accepting their love. Nice prose. Better than Rules (see below), I think.

ages: 10 and older


The Fault in our Stars: love story about teenage cancer survivors. The best part about this book is the subplot about the protagonist’s relationship with her favorite book and (later on) its author. The slow unraveling of the curmudgeonly author’s own personal story is wonderful. The worst part of the book is the love story, itself. Only my opinion, folks!

ages: 12 and older


Marcelo in the Real World: terrific book that attempts to get inside the head of a 16-year-old boy with Aspergers. Beautiful writing. Memorable characters.

ages: 14 and older


Rules: ah, the tyranny of expectations. I think if I had gone into this without having heard everyone hype it up, I probably would have felt differently about his book. I thought it was pretty good, don’t get me wrong, and for sure, the prose is top notch. In the end, I guess I thought it was too cutesy. I did like the realistic way the author wrote the relationship between the protagonist and the new girl next door.

ages: 8 and older


Before I Fall: really entertaining book about a popular teenage girl reliving the same tragic day over and over again. Great prose, structure, and characters.

ages: 14 and older


Life As We Knew It: An asteroid destroys the moon, sending our climate into a tailspin in this first book in a series about a slowly deteriorating world. The main character is a girl living with her family. Every character is strong, even the supporting ones. I loved this book, but couldn’t get into every selection in this 4-book series. I did like the third one, though.

ages: 12 and older


Wonder: I read this book a few months ago and quite liked it. It’s engrossing, the premise is original in its way, and it’s very sweet. I like books that feature kids who would otherwise be in the margins. And Auggie definitely is one of those kids. He’s the kind of kid who is forgotten by YA. So I love that Palacio has built an entire book around this kinda kid. It’s not a perfect book, though. The ending is definitely over the top and cloying. And as a Goodreads reviewer has pointed out, there’s something a little stinky about how after Auggie begins to be accepted by a good portion of the students, a few of them start referring to him as Little Buddy (or some variation of that), sort of like he’s a pet.

ages: 10 and older


Stupid Fast: wasn’t crazy about this one. The writing, from the perspective of a male teenager, is too goofy and unbelievable.

King of the Screwups by K_L_ Going

King of the Screwups: enjoyed this book about a popular, but out of control teenager who goes to live with his uncle when his high powered lawyer (?) father kicks him out of the house. His uncle is a fabulous character who plays in a glam band, resides in a trailer park, and marches to the beat of his own drummer.

ages: 14 and older


Earth Girl: started out terrific. About a girl alive during a future when humanity has colonized the stars and earth is mostly unlivable. The girl is part of a rare group of ostracized folks with a genetic defect that prevents them from ever living off of Earth. Ultimately, she applies to a college on Earth run by offworlders. Such a fun premise, but the book is way, way too long and it features an irritating love story.

ages: 13 and older


You Against Me: an example of a really strong YA love story. This one is about a working class young British man whose sister is sexually assaulted. Unfortunately for the young man, he starts to develop feelings for the perpetrator’s sister. It sounds a bit trashy, but it’s handled expertly, and the prose gleams.

ages: 14 and older


Now That You’re Here: about a boy who lives in an alternate, more sinister-type of world who crosses over into our world. Once here, he discovers the cast is the same, but now his friends are his enemies, and his enemies are his friends. Another terrific premise. I didn’t think the writing was all that strong here, though. It didn’t suck me in.

ages: 12 and older


The Future of Us: two teens living in the late nineties somehow get access to their Facebook profiles in the future. Facebook, of course, hadn’t been invented yet. Naturally, the discovery blows their minds. The execution of this story was okay. I wanted it to go in more interesting directions, and I thought the characters were somewhat bland. I’d say if the premise appeals to you, definitely go ahead and give it a go.

ages: 12 and older

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