T5W: Gateway Books to Young Adult

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Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week’s theme is ‘gateway books to your favourite genre’, and I really had to think about it. I’m a fairly eclectic reader, enjoying everything from memoirs, to scifi, to a great contemporary read. I took a good look at my shelf and my favourites, and I had to conclude that I do seem to read and enjoy a lot of young adult reads.

So today I present to you, 5 gateway books to young adult reads! Just as complex and intelligent as books aimed at adults, I find they’re too often overlooked. I’ve mentioned some of these in other posts, but that’s because they’re fantastic and should be read!

The barometer I’ve used here is my dad. Some of these are books that I’ve gotten him to read and some of them are books that I think he would read. He now sometimes pursues YA on his own! If my dad can get behind Young Adult books, so can you.

eragonEragon, by Christopher Paolini

While this first book was made into an absolutely terrible film, and is quite honestly a bit of a simplistic Tolkien mirror, it’s the first of a quartet that is honestly worth your time. They contain a protagonist that grows in mind and spirit, a fantasy storyline that is fairly fast-paced, and a cast of interesting characters. I sped through them, and so did my dad.

For fans of classic fantasy, a la Tolkien and Eddings, just in an ‘easy reading’ sort of way.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Cardenders-game

A science fiction novel that’s been adapted into a well-received movie, this book is actually the beginning of an excellent series, and the jumping-off point for a second. While this book wasn’t written with the intention of being YA, it has been marketed as such for a while, and has certainly been enjoyed by children of all ages. I read it for the first time at 12, and then again at 16.

Definitely for fans of science fiction interested in exploring complex moral issues.

stolen-coverStolen, by Lucy Christopher

A very intense novel, the entire thing is a letter from a captive to her kidnapper. You’ll either love this book or you’ll hate it. The author is very gifted with storytelling, and basically explores Stockholm Syndrome from the inside. A book I haven’t read in ages but that has stayed with me for years.

For fans of contemporary thrillers and psychologically challenging books.

Sabriel, by Garth Nixabhorsen-1

The first book in a series, it has incredibly extensive world building. With different types of magic systems, and a protagonist who must learn a legacy of binding the dead, it’s certainly a page turner. It involves very interesting necromancy, and an antagonist who moves the story along at a rapid pace.

For fans of high fantasy and cool magic systems.

white-catWhite Cat, by Holly Black

One of my favourite teen authors, this is another book that you’ll either love or hate. The protagonist is an ungifted guy in a family of curse workers – people with various magical gifts. He starts having bizarre dreams about a white cat trying to tell him something, and must try to figure it out while navigating strange family secrets.

For fans of the paranormal, this is Supernatural meets the mafia.

There were other books that I would add to this list, but most of them speak for themselves, so I’ll add them here as honourable mentions. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, His Dark Materials, and anything written by Tamora Pierce are all well known and worth reading.

I hope that if you’re not familiar with Young Adult novels, I’ve helped to open a new door for you!

Have you read any YA novels that have convinced you that it’s a genre to look for? What is your favourite genre of books, and a gateway book you’d recommend for it?

T5W: Books I Want To See As TV Shows

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Starting this week, I’ll be participating in fun Top 5 Wednesday topics. This was created by Gingerreadslainey on youtube and the group can be found here. Every Wednesday a new topic asks people to choose their ‘top 5’ books in a specific category. With fall TV season around the corner, this week is focusing on books that I would want to see as TV shows!

First, a disclaimer. I would only want to see these as *good* TV shows (I’m looking at you, Golden Compass movie). In an ideal world, these would be well-adapted, cast properly with great actors, with budgets for good VFX, accurate sets, and elaborate or well-worn costumes depending on the situation. Seeing these badly butchered would be worse than having no adaptation at all!

That being said, let’s begin!

#1 – The Samaria Books, by Sharon Shinn

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I adore these books. A perfect blend of theology, science, romance, and adventure, I would pay good money to see them on a screen. Just imagining the diverse cast of characters playing out their stories is thrilling to me. It would work best if the books were adapted in chronological order rather than published order, though I’m sure an argument could be made for that as well.

Seeing angels come to life would almost be as great as the bomb soundtrack that I’m sure would accompany large gatherings, and play gently in the background at all other times. With rather serious topics spread throughout the series, it wouldn’t always be light watching – but it would sure as hell be satisfying.

#2 – Beka Cooper Books, by Tamora Pierce

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I’m a fan of all of Tamora Pierce’s books. While I think it would be cool to watch *all* of her books as shows, I realise how difficult it would be in the cases of books in which the protagonists go from children to adults in the span of a series.

Beka Cooper is a ‘puppy’. Essentially a police officer in training in the slums of a city where law enforcement is not always looked upon kindly. In a medieval (but not historical) setting, Beka discovers the pains of arresting those she grew up with and keeping order when laws aren’t always the easiest to enforce or agree with. Oh, and she can hear the spirits of the dead carried by pigeons. A masterful set of stories that would be brilliant as a TV show.

#3 – Old Kingdom Series, by Garth Nix

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While I feel that TV has had enough of zombies for a while, it certainly hasn’t had enough of necromancy! These books are set in a kingdom where electronics are useless, modern machine made products disintegrate, and necromancers raise the spirits of the dead for their own ends. With a magic system (The Charter) that works rather like a religion, and a main character who puts the dead to rest, this is a seriously creepy and compelling series. As the series moves on, different main characters are introduced – and they bring with them a really cool history and even more world-building.

With great VFX, this would be stunning on screen.

#4 – Deathless, by Catherynne Valente

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This book was beautiful and disturbing. Because life is often both. A re-imagined Russian tale, it weaves Russian history with folklore to great success. The Czar of Life, Koschei the Deathless, is wonderful and terrible and Marya Morevna falls deeply in love with him. But as the war between life and death grows, their complex relationship is threatened – as is the strange life that Marya has come to love. This book is full of fantasy sequences more than at home in a fairy tale, and interesting side characters you’ll love learning about.

With the right actors, I can see the beautiful backdrops and heartbreaking scenes come to life. It would be brilliant.

#5 – His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

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Okay, so hear me out on this one. Everyone who read The Golden Compass and then went to see it in theatres knows what a botch-job it was. I had so much hope that it would be amazing but it just wasn’t. The religious influences were minimized so not to offend, which considering the whole thing is set in a parallel universe is ridiculous to me. Too much was compromised and it just didn’t work.

But imagine for a moment an adaptation with a script truer to the original source, and with enough time to accomplish truly telling the story. The rich settings would come to life with a colourful cast of characters just waiting to be discovered by new viewers. This show would have it all: a coming of age, drama, betrayal, witches, talking bears, and parallel universes! Best of all, it may actually be coming to a screen near you soon – though considering it’s a BBC collaboration with New Line (of the infamous Golden Compass film) I won’t hold my breath for a miracle.

So, there’s the books I’d most like to see as shows. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Are there other books that you would rather see as TV shows?