Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Ten YA Series

10. House of Night PC and Kristin Cast

This series is about Zoey Redbird. In the first book she gets "marked" and is sent to the House of Night, a school for fledgling vampires. There she learns all about being a vampire; vampire history; and the normal reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic. I picked up the first book, Marked, when I was at Barnes and Noble with 4 of my very dear friends waiting around for the midnight release of Breaking Dawn. It had a relatively gloomy cover, which always peaks my interest. Also Barnes and Noble told me I would like it, so I bought it. Good job, Barnes and Noble, I Did like it! I can't decide if it's the part of me that wants to be a rebel (and loves the idea of lace filigree tattoos) or if it's because I'm just a nerdy, vampire-book lover. But I love this series. I like the mix of Cherokee beliefs and the vampires' beliefs. Zoey’s grandmother and the Cherokee values guide Zoey in her quest as this chosen, badass, fledgling vampire. Basically the goddess, Nyx, decided Zoey needed to whip the House of Night into shape. And she does just that throughout the series. At times it can be trite, and with so many books in the series I feel like it's almost overdone. But I will still read them to find out how Zoey's story finally ends because all in all they're very entertaining!

9. The Wake Trilogy Lisa McMann

Wow. These 3 books are so awesome. They tell the story of Janie who has a very unfortunate gift. Whenever she falls asleep, if there is a person sleeping nearby she will wake up in their dream. This sounds kind of cool, but the drawbacks are the pits. She never gets any rest because she's always awake, whether in her consciousness or someone else's unconsciousness. I was sucked into these books because it's not often that something I would consider a super-power is discussed negatively. But I think it's definitely cool to look at the other side of the coin. This girl was born with this ability, she doesn't want it, doesn't like it, and ultimately it could lead to her early demise. I had never once thought about super-powers this way. Not that dream-waking usually comes to mind when I think about awesome super-powers, but roll with it. I had never thought about them being a burden, or something to consider a curse. These books changed that. I also really like Janie's struggle to accept her ability, learn to master it, and eventually use it to save the day. That part was pretty typical of a super-hero story, but it's a great theme nonetheless. 

8. Night World LJ Smith

I really like LJ Smith’s stuff; she is a hard-core romantic, and it definitely shows itself in this series. The bond that LJ Smith creates between soul mates is my favorite part of Night World. In Night World (and The Secret Circle series, f.y.i.) every soul mate pair is connected by this shimmery, silver string of energy. It’s not like they walk around all day with these lightning bolts sticking out of their chests; it’s symbolic. But when 2 soul mates kiss they are overwhelmed with this energy, and they can hear each other’s thoughts. It sounds just like a Disney movie, and it is; which is probably why I love it. But Night World is about just that, the world that LJ Smith created. It’s not a series based on one specific character or couple. Sure the characters in each book are all linked in some way; whether they are distant cousins or happen to meet at some point in the book. But it’s more about how all of these loosely linked characters end up working together toward the same goal. I really like series like this. You read just enough about a character to really like them, but they don’t really have time to get annoying.  Also one of my favorite characters, Ash, has eyes that change color. And not the kind of color-change where you wear a blue shirt so your eyes look extra blue. No, legitimately change colors in the middle of a conversation. I just think that’s cool.

7. Twilight Stephenie Meyer

I couldn’t leave Twilight off the list. My friend at Blockbuster recommended this book one night at work, and I never looked back. I am sure we all know the story of the moody, non-descript teenage girl who managed to seduce the 80-year-old man-child into stalking her and nearly killing himself before they were married and lived happily ever after with the most perfect of happy endings in almost any book. I mean, seriously, Bella got everything she could have ever asked for. It’s pretty frustrating. But you know I love that mess. I’m a sucker for unrealistic expectations and vampires. And if you’re reading this, it means you’re most likely my FaceBook friend. That means you have probably seen evidence of my Twilight obsession before, and it would be pointless to lie to one another and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

6. Wicked Lovely Melissa Marr

So this is the series that changed my definition of fairy. Before reading Wicked Lovely, fairies were tiny girls with wings and pixy dust. (Obviously these are pixies, so my generalization is rather atrocious.) And now I know the error of my ways thanks to these books. The best part about the Wicked Lovely books is the villains. Bananoc and Irial are my favorite characters to hate. Bananoc is pure chaos; she thrives on conflict and discord. And Irial is the villain to whom this most aptly applies: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Irial is King of the Dark Court, but when Bananoc challenges his court (along with the other 3) he looks to the protagonists for help. There’s also the Hunt, who are some badass biker fairies that do Irial’s bidding.

5. Morganville Vampires Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine, you are a genius. And so is her main character, Claire Danvers. Claire is 16 when she moves to Morganville, Texas to go to college. She arrives and has the snot kicked out of her within one week of living in the dorms. This is all Michael, Eve, and Shane need to see before they agree to her moving into the Glass House with them. And from then on out it is one crazy vampire attack after another. Claire is one of my favorite leading ladies. Had I read this series when I ranked the Top Ten BA Females, Claire would definitely have made the list. She is such a nerd. She loves school, and will not miss a class even if her life depends on it. I like that her brain gets her out of the tough situations just as often as her fancy anti-vampire weapons and her friends. I really like the dynamic between Eve, Michael, Shane, and Claire in the first half of the series. I just read book 13 and things are changing, as is natural for early adulthood, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

4. Uglies Scott Westerfeld

I stand by what I have said in the past, Tally Youngblood is such a badass. In Uglies we are taken to a place where any kind of self-modification/enhancement is possible, painless, and free on your 16th birthday. Before that, you are completely normal. No more or less beautiful than anyone else is when they’re born and live to be 15. And I believe that if I could ask 50 15-year-old girls right now if they would want to change something about themselves on their 16th birthday, most would say yes. That’s why Tally is such a badass. She said no. She knew that the surgeries did not just make physical changes, and she was not going to have them take away her Tally-ness. The series is based around a dystopian society, about which I love reading! But I think for me, the best part of this series is the vocabulary. Scott Westerfeld created a whole new dialect for these books, and I love the creativity that went into it.

3. Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices Cassandra Clare
So the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices are technically two separate series by Cassandra Clare. However, I make the rules, so I say they count for one for my purposes. Both series transport you to the world of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Shadowhunters are the warriors of the Nephilim, a race of humans that were blessed by an angel to protect regular humans from Downworlders. Downworlders being your typical baddies: warlocks, vampires, werewolves, demons and the lot. The Infernal Devices are set in turn of the century London, and you get to meet Tessa, Will, and Jem. In the trilogy you learn about the Infernal Devices themselves, 3 devices designed to be the demonic balance for the 3 angelic Mortal Instruments.  The Mortal Instruments are discussed in…wait for it….The Mortal Instruments series. Phew, it’s a doozy. But these books are set in present(ish) day New York City, and we meet Clary, Jace, and their rag tag group of friends. This really is a fascinating world that Clare created, and just so you know the movie premieres August 21, 2013 (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones)!!!

2. The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

Here is another dystopian series because I can’t seem to get enough. I’m pretty sure if I could find a dystopian vampire novel my head would explode. So my favorite thing about these is how Suzanne Collins describes the Capitol and its citizens. The books are written in Katniss Everdeen’s voice, and I love her dry, no-nonsense commentary. She has little patience for the Capitol’s citizens. Katniss was raised in District 12 where most everyone barely has enough food to survive, and in the Capitol she sees more decadence and waste in an hour than she has seen her whole life. And reading about the Hunger Games is very interesting as well. The barbaric nature of sending 24 teenagers into one place to kill one another is outrageous, and yet it is the Capitol’s favorite source of entertainment. This is an extremely well written, edge-of-your-seat story about the proletariat sticking it to the man. Of course it’s awesome!

1. Harry Potter. Duh. JK Rowling

Obviously, this is the greatest of the greats. It defines my generation. I remember standing in a book fair when I was in the 3rd grade and picking up my first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I remember being devastated that I was already 11 and I hadn’t received my entrance letter to Hogwarts. I even remember why the last 100 pages of my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have tearstains on them (a mixture of the happenings in the book and the fact that it was actually going to be over). I waited for every book and every movie with barely restrained glee, and I still get disappointed when I realize that there won’t be any more. If you haven’t read them, shame on you! I implore you to get your butt to your nearest book store and buy them. (Not a library. Borrowing simply will not do.) Read them for yourself, read them to your children, I don’t care. Just read them! Now.