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Fast, Fun Reads for Not-So-Young Adults

The summer's nearly over, alas!  In a week, it's back to pencils and books (or computers and smartboards) for the younger generation.  If you've got kids in school you might hesitate to pick up a long novel right now, with the demands of the school year looming so close.  Or maybe you don't have kids, but end-of-summer burnout is making your reading pile look like the Tower of Babel.  Well, fear not!  The library (as always) has an answer for you: Young Adult books... for grown-ups!

Young Adult (or "YA") titles tend to be faster reads for adults, but that doesn't mean they're poorer ones.  These books will hook you early and hard, grabbing your attention from the get-go.  Think about it-- they have to grab a teen's attention away from school, sports, friends, social media, texting, gaming, movies, shopping... you get the idea.  And in the name of grabbing that audience, YA authors are often willing to be more innovative and edgy than their adult-market counterparts-- telling an entire story through chat windows, for example, or using Death himself as a narrator.

Adults can usually zip through a YA title pretty quickly because the pacing is faster than in adult novels, the page length is generally shorter, and the reading level is geared towards a junior high/high school audience.  (As a note, most newspapers are written at a high school level, too.)  But don't assume the subject material is juvenile!  If you've never read YA because "those books are for kids," you've been missing out on some truly fantastic writing. 

YA titles are a class unto themselves; not children's books, but not quite adult fiction, either.  In a lot of ways, YA lit reflects its target audience.  Being a teenager often means feeling like a stranger in your own skin.  Teens are changing and growing up-- physically, emotionally, mentally.  Many of them are experiencing love or death up close for the first time as they lose a grandparent or see a familiar face in a new way.  They're beginning to think about the complex issues they'll face as adults, the kind of world they're about to inherit and what they might want to do with it.  And all of those emotions and doubts and questions are rmirrored in what they read.

Teens are aware of how fast the world around them is changing, too, and they're in a hurry to keep up.  Think about how much our world has changed already in the last twenty years: texting, tablet computers, cloning, and Mars landings-- none of that existed.  Few people outside of academia had even heard of that "World Wide Web" thing.  In another twenty years, most of our teens will be old enough to run for President.  What will their world look like?  What kinds of decisions will they face?

Is it any wonder, then, that speculative fiction holds so much appeal for teens?  With speculative fiction, they can explore the potential of their changing world without the limits and complications of real-world considerations.  They can work through difficult issues vicariously, even problems they hope never to encounter in person.  Nor is that appeal limited to teens-- no matter how old you get, that teenaged feeling of finding one's way through an unfamiliar world never seems goes away.

And contrary to popular opinion, a lot of YA spec fic is hopeful in ways adults might not expect.  Again, it comes down to intended audience: Young Adults are young.  They have their adult lives ahead of them, with the time, energy, enthusiasm, and desire to make a difference.  Even the grimmest YA dystopia carries that message of hope within it, the reminder that the world doesn't have to turn out this way if even a few people have the will to make it better.  (Remember that, parents, when you worry about your kid reading too much dystopian fiction.)

If you're a parent, reading a book together can be a great way to reconnect with your teen (and encourage that last-minute summer reading to get done).  If you don't have kids, your end-of-summer reading list awaits below!  Check out a YA read-- and prepare to be surprised.

There are a lot of fantastic "crossover" authors (authors who write both YA and adult novels), but I've tried to stick with predominantly YA authors for this list.  For titles on one of the Clarkstown summer reading lists, I've noted the Reading List copy instead of the regular YA copy, or marked it with (RL).

Feed by M. T. Anderson (Reading List Anderson)
Everneath by Brodi Ashton (Express YA Ashton)
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Reading List Bacigalupi)
Chime by Frannie Billingsley (YA Billingsley)
White Cat by Holly Black (YA Black)
Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier, eds. (YA Short Stories Zombies)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (YA Blake)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Reading List Bray)
Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (YA Brennan)
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (YA Carson)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Reading List Cashore)
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Reading List Clare)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Reading List Collins)
Matched by Ally Condie (Reading List Condie)
Foundling by D. M. Cornish (YA Cornish)
The Naming by Alison Croggon (YA Croggon)
Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delany (YA Delany)
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer (YA Farmer)
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (Reading List Fisher)
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke (Reading List Funke)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Reading List Garcia)
Gone by Michael Grant (Express YA Grant)
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (YA Hale)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Express YA Hartman)
The Shattering by Karen Healey (YA Healey)
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (YA Hieber)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Express YA LaFevers)
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (Reading List LeGuin)
The Carbon Diaries: 2015 by Saci Lloyd (YA Lloyd)
Huntress by Malinda Lo (YA Lo)
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (Reading List Mantchev)
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (YA Marr)
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry (Express YA McQuerry)
Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer (Reading List Meyer)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Express YA Meyer)
Fair Coin by E. C. Myers (Express YA Myers)
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Reading List Ness)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (YA Nix)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Reading List Oliver)
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (YA Oppel)
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (YA Peterfreund)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Reading List Pfeffer)
Starters by Lissa Price (Reading List Price)
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (YA Reeve)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA Revis)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Express YA Riggs)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Express YA Rossi)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Reading List Roth)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (YA Ryan)
Magyk by Angie Sage (YA Sage)
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (YA Scott)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Reading List Shusterman)
Quiver by Stephanie Spinner (YA Spinner) (RL)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Reading List Stiefvater)
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (YA Suma)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (YA Taylor)
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (YA Westerfeld)
The Midnight Charter by David Whitley (Reading List Whitley)
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Reading List Wrede)
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (YA Yancey)
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (YA Young) (RL)

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Karen - I loved the book Feed

Karen - I loved the book Feed by by MT Anderson.  I've been talking about all summer.