Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ten YA Novels That Don't Follow The Rules (with a bonus of four more titles!

Of all of the books I've read, there are just some that stand out from the pack.  They're what I call renegades, rebels, and non-conformists. Once I started reading these bad books, I was HOOKED. But don't think they aren't workhorses either.  In today's educational world, students who can interpret and understand a variety of texts are the pros.  It's not so much about the written word, but also how you can "read" different formats.
So here's a list of naughty but very nicely written YA novels that don't follow the rules:

1. Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  2015
Like the cover says, this is a compendium of files from charts, to layouts of space ships, government documents to personal texts, decoded voice and video files.  Don't let the thickness daunt the reader, it's a FAST read with an excellent plot and conflict!!

2. YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright.  2015
When a generation comes up with their own langauge, why not write a novel with it?  Better yet, why not only write a novel, but let is be a translation of one of the greatest works of all time!!  It may help to have background knowledge, but even if you don't, it's definitely a FUN read!

3. TTYL, YOLO (Internet Girls series) by Lauren Myracle  2004-2015
Before emoticons, there were acronyms, and the beginning of some very interesting ones too.  The list keeps growing, just like this series that is all about friendship, text, and three girls from junior high to college.  Keep in mind (always!) - you can't read emotions in text...until emojis were born!

4. Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose by Gillian Cain and Legs McNeil.  2014
First-person perspective of a young girl whose life goes from okay to bad to downright sad.  In non-fiction diary format, you will experience her pain, her joys, and her frustrations all the way until the last day she writes.  But what captures the reader's heart is her self-portraits. Wide-eyed innocence or a look of being overwhelmed?  Wow....powerful

5. Non-fiction Graphic Novels ( My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf) 2012

Graphic novels, a cousin of the comic book, brought  non-fiction to a whole 'nother level.  While teens may say there's nothing as boring as a non-fiction book (they should try narrative non-fiction!) this is THE antidote to boring.  Pictures fill the pages along with the short storyline.  Little do teens know interpreting graphic novels is all about reading waaaaay deeper than a regular novel. Gotcha!!

6. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony.  2012

This is definitely not your average graphic novel, although it is considered one.  First of all, there are no drawings.  This is more like a scrap book filled with pictures, notes and a storyline all about elicit love and music.  Difficult to read?  No.  Emotionally fulfilling?ABSOLUTELY!

7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 2012
It doesn't matter how old you are, there will always be something comforting about reading a picture book.  Until you read this one with some really crazy scary pictures in it!  The storyline is impeccable and how the author weaves his story with these eerie images is a thrillfest.  Love at first sight...or read...

8. The Notebook Girls by Julia Baskin.  2006
Who hasn't ever wanted to pick up someone's diary and read all about their lives?  What you get with this novel is called a two-fer.  The first is that first forbidden look into one of three girls' notebooks.  The second is that this isn't a made-up story but a real one.  Talk about living vicariously through characters in a book! 10 years later, visiting NYC, I couldn't HELP but think about this book and the teens who live there!

9. Post Secret by Frank Warren.  2005
Sometimes, all it takes is a small snippet to either suck the air out of the room or make you sigh with happiness.  The premise is brilliant - share a secret with complete anonymity.  There are more books in the series, and you'll want to read them after tasting the first one full of real-life and real people.

10. Monster by Walter Dean Myers  1999
When you're sitting behind bars, waiting to see what happens next, your mind can whirl with all kinds of thoughts.  So why not create an alternate ending to life in the form of a movie?  Myers nailed it in this fiction book and I contend that is  why this is still such a favorite.  Myers actually gets kids to read a movie script of an excellent YA story through a classic format not much widely read by young adults.

Other titles that dare to be different:

Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross 2012

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates  2009

Twice Told: Original Stories Inspired by Original Art Work by Scott Hunt  2006

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky  1999