Novels intended for the young adult market are increasing in quantity, subject matters and in some cases quality. Many of the authors writing fantasy in this market are simply a pleasure to read, while still challenging the reader to think and grow. Here are some of the authors that everyone, teens and adults alike, can enjoy.
Tamora Pierce is a prolific young adult fantasy writer that has released a number of related series and is still going. Her first novel was Alana; The First Adventure which was the first book in the Song of the Lioness quartet. This first series was geared towards slightly younger group, nine to twelve year olds. Then came the Immortals quartet, Circle of Magic quartet, Protector of the Small quartet, Circle Opens quartet, the Trickster series (only two books), Will of the Empress, Melting Stones, and finally the current series in progress Beka Cooper series with two books out and a third scheduled to be published in 2011. All of these books happen in the same universe, the same counties with intersecting storylines, but still each book or series can be enjoyed without having read all of the books.
Pierce’s main characters tend to be young women, though there are male main characters in the two Circle quartets. All of her characters are realistic, with doubts and questions about the world, and really come to life as you read. The reader really does care what happens, not just to the main characters, but all the smaller characters and the worlds of the books as a whole. Additionally, most of her books can me found in Full Cast audio format, which is a simply amazing way to get a reluctant reader, or long distance commuter to enjoy her writing. If you read and enjoy her work then I suggest also trying Maria V Snyder Shannon Hale, and Robin McKinley.
Neil Gaiman is another contemporary writer that is great for both young adults and adults to read. Some of his best works, in my opinion, include Coraline (made into a major motion picture), Graveyard Book (winner of the 2009 Newbury Award), American Gods, Neverwhere (made into a miniseries on BBC), and Mirror Mask (made into a motion picture). He is also know for the Sandman graphic novels and Stardust (made into a major motion picture). He also collaborate with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens. Gaiman has an imagination that I am both envious of and glad that I don’t have on dark, spooky nights. He always makes me very concerned for his characters, and I like that many of the characters are flawed, like real people, even when faced with things well out of the ordinary. For those of the audiobook set, Gaiman narrates his own audio books and he does a phenomenal job with inflections and pauses just where they should be. Authors I’d recommend are Terry Pratchett and Garth Nix.
My third recommendation is Madeleine L’Engle. Most of us have heard about the Newbury Award winning A Wrinkle In Time series, but have you read it? It is a fantastic set of books, and was just a small portion of her work. She wrote at least sixty books before passing away in 2007. Many of her works combine fantasy with some science. Her work was consistently entertainment while touching and easy to connect to for ever person that has ever just not fit in, and isn’t that everyone? Other authors you might enjoy include Margaret Mahy, Lois Lowry and Kate DiCamillo.
There are still several authors of this genre that are just amazing, but to list them all, and tell you anything about them, would take up too much space. However, I can’t seem to leave this topic without also recommending Lloyd Alexander, Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Rick Riordan, and Michael Buckley.