Teen Read Week: What to Read

Young adult books are not just for teens. Some of us adults also enjoy stories about friendship, coming-of-age, and the joys/struggles of high school. Here are my favorite books to read for Teen Read Week!

Panic | Lauren Oliver 

Panic is a young adult novel about a secret competition for graduating seniors in a small town. The winner gets to take a pot of about $67,000. The only catch is that the challenges are life-threatening and illegal. For a more complete summary, you can go here.
I actually have no complaints about this book, which is rare. Usually I find at least one thing that could be improved upon. I’ll admit that when I first started reading this book, it reminded me of The Hunger Games or Scorpio Races—two books about teens competing in deadly challenges. However, Panic ended up being a book that holds its own. 
My favorite part about this book was how it incorporates panic. There is a strong fear of death, which everyone faces, during the competitions. The fear in the challenges is real, but it is also man-made. They could back out of the situation at any point—of course that means that they won’t win the money, but it is always an option. Then there is also panic that comes from real life situations—violence, drugs, disabilities, poverty—that can be easily washed away. Every person involved in the game of Panic also experiences some sort of real life panic which inspires their desperation to compete. 
I really loved this book. It was entertaining, not super predictable, and a book that I couldn’t put down. Many people categorize this as a dystopian novel, but it is more contemporary. And it is comprised of events that could actually happen in present day, so it’s not fantasy as some people have assumed. I would recommend it to anyone who loves stories that have a lot of action combined with a deeper message. 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! Also check out my Q & A session with Lauren Oliver!

5/5 Stars

Fangirl | Rainbow Rowell 

This story is about Cath in her first year of college but she feels alone when her very opposite twin sister refused to share a dorm room. Cath is forced out of her comfort zone since she would much rather write fan fiction and get lost in a fantasy world than party with her sister or roommate. For a complete summary, you can go here.
So, this book is very interesting because the story within this story (the fan fiction Cath is writing) was later turned into its own novel, Carry On, which I actually read before this. I am very glad that I read it in that order because Fangirl gives away some important twists in Carry On that I appreciated being surprised by. 
Compared to the other Rainbow Rowell books that I have read, this is better than Carry On, but not as good as Eleanor and Park. But I loved this book and couldn’t do anything else until I finished reading the entire thing [Which is why I gave it my Best Book Award]. Rowell is very talented at spending a lot of time with characters and really making you feel connected to them. I also love that all of her characters are quirky and imperfect. This book does deal with some tough subjects, such as overdosing, mental health, and parental abandonment. I appreciate that Rowell isn’t afraid to talk about those things. I do think that in this book, those tough subjects didn’t feel as heavy as they did in Eleanor and Park.
I think that younger women or teens would like this book best, but I also think that any huge Harry Potter fan would get a kick out of it too. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars

The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas 

This book is about Starr, a sixteen-year-old that lives in a poor neighborhood, but attends a fancy suburban private school. One night, her childhood best friend gets shot by a cop while she’s in the car. She is forced to decide if she wants to stand up and be the voice of a movement. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this book. I even gave it my Best Book Award! It is very relevant to a lot of racial issues going on in America right now. It is not an anti-white or anti-police book. Instead, it focuses on the challenges of growing up in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood. It does discuss shootings and police brutality, but, again, it is not a book bashing the police. 
I think it is rare to find a book that can clearly explain to a young adult what racism looks and feels like without being wrapped up in metaphors. I think this would be a great book to read in high schools or for parents to buddy-read with their teen. Also, for being such a complex and heavy topic, there were lighter moments that helped to make the book not feel too dense. It was also a touching story about family, friendship, and love.
I had never heard of this book until it was picked for my book club. The title made me think it would be a cheesy millennial textspeak book, but I was so wrong. The title actually comes from Tupac and the term THUG LIFE. I won’t give it away, but it ties into the story nicely. It was also great to read a book with a black main character that was also written by a black author.
I think this book can be very eye-opening to a lot of people. I recommend it to everyone thirteen and above. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars

Without Merit | Colleen Hoover

This book follows the dysfunctional Voss family told from 17-year-old Merit’s perspective. She is holding on to a lot of secrets for members of her family, but she may not be seeing the full picture. For a complete summary, you can go here.
First of all, any book that I can read in one day (and practically one sitting) has to be pretty good. The way Hoover writes just flows so well. All of her books suck you in and are quick reads because you just want to devour the book. They usually have some twists, but you never feel like you have to think too hard or slow down to piece everything together. I even gave it my Best Book Award (I am on a roll with good books this week!).
My favorite part about this book is that it discusses perception and that we make a lot of assumptions about people. I also like how it makes us aware that no one is perfect. Some reviewers complained that most of the main characters are unlikeable, but I actually appreciated that they were flawed. It made them feel more real. I also like how it addressed a lot of hot topic issues, such as mental health. My only complaint is that it kind of made light of and easily brushed over some controversial topics. 
This book was very different from any other Colleen Hoover book that I have read. It still had a romance storyline, but it was much more about the family than the romance. It is also more for the older teen rather than adults (but I definitely still have a lot of love for young adult books!). I highly recommend this book (as with most Colleen Hoover books, it is probably more geared towards women). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars

Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda | Becky Albertalli 

This book is about Simon, who is not yet out as gay. One day, a classmate finds Simon’s emails with his secret pen pal boyfriend and threatens to reveal their secret unless Simon plays his wingman. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I have to admit that I have been in a little bit of a book funk. I am currently hardcore editing my own novel, so it’s been hard to compartmentalize that when reading other books. I keep getting caught up in trying to edit published books. Ugh. So it was very refreshing to find this book and get able to get so caught up in it that I forgot to pay attention to grammar and formatting. I finished this book in less than 24 hours (two separate sittings). 

At the surface, it is about being gay and coming out. But it is also a story about family, friendships, love, and growing up. This is a timely novel with a very authentic voice. I loved all the characters for their own quirky ways. I do have to admit that I only read this book so I could see the movie in theaters. Based on the title and cover, I probably wouldn’t have naturally picked it up.

I highly recommend this book to everyone! I even have it my Best Book Award. It gives a perspective that is not often represented in published fiction. It was truly refreshing and heartwarming. I can’t wait to see the movie (released as Love, Simon). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars

Everything Everything | Nicola Yoon

Madeleine has a serious and rare medical condition that prevents her from leaving her house. She never has a reason to leave until the boy next door teaches her that sometimes living life is worth the risk. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I don’t have a lot to say about this book other than, I loved it. (And I gave it my Best Book Award). There were a few flaws, but I can overlook all of that because this book grabbed me and pulled me along for the ride. I seriously read this in one sitting. Most of the chapters were just a page or two and the book is filled with beautiful illustrations, so it is a very quick read. After dragging my brain through quite a few psychological thrillers lately, this was a lovely mental vacation. 

I caught myself smiling several times while reading this book. I also teared up a few times. The subject is tough, but the main characters are so dang likable. I think books like this set a great precedent for other young adult novels out there. I highly recommend it. Now, excuse me while I run off to find the movie version. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars

Others to Read:

I’ll Give You The Sun | Jandy Nelson 

Eleanor and Park | Rainbow Rowell 

Shiver | Maggie Stiefvater 

I’ll Meet You There | Heather Demetrios

We Are Okay | Nina Lacour


Do you agree? Disagree?