Over the last few weeks I mentioned that I have a personal “YA Fab Five” and that I really don’t read much other YA, disputed reading a great deal of it up until the last few years. I still like the general but have been finding the writing quality to have fallen off recently as a whole. So if I do choose to read YA with my limited free-choice reading time, I stick to Sarah, Ruta, Marie, Leigh and Renee.
Sarah J. Maas
Ah, what can I say about Sarah J. Maas that I didn’t already said in previous posts? Over the years she has introduced me to some of my favorite characters – Rhys in A Court of Thorns and Roses) and Lysandra in Throne of Glass – and two of my all-time favorite fantasy worlds. I think her writing is spectacular – I always feel so immersed in her world and character relationships. She’s also been super nice and charming every chance I’ve had to meet her in person and there have been a few over the years. After my young adult years were spent without a real YA section, Sarah introduced me to the world of post-Harry Potter YA fantasy and for that she will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Ruta Sepetys is one of the kindest, humblest, most generous people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I’ve had occasion to do so a few times over the years, and the second time I did so, I told her what a HUGE fan of her books my sister, Laura, is, and she asked if she could send her a message. I said sure, and pulled out a pad of paper and pen, and she said she’d rather send her a video message. Recording that message and sending it to Laura was one of the great highlights of my bookish life. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that her books are so immersive and introduced me to the story of the Wilhelm Gustloff and Lithuanians during World War II. Ruta’s newest book, Fountains of Silence, came out last week!
I had always heard great things about Marie’s books and they came to me highly recommended by some customers at the bookstore. I started with her second series, The Young Elites, when our YA book club decided to make it one of their monthly picks. I really appreciated that it was an antihero sort of story and was unlike anything else I had read. When she came to the bookstore for the launch party of Warcross and I got to moderate her discussion with fellow YA author Alex London, I was ecstatic. She was nicer, kinder, and friendlier than I ever could have hoped and dealt with my obsessive fangirling very patiently! The lastest book in the Legend series, Rebel, came out last week and her next book, Kingdom of Back, which comes out in March, is her best yet – I absolutely cannot wait to share this beautiful story with you all – it’s Marie’s envisioning of Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart’s imaginary kingdom they created as kids, and oh, just wait. It is SPECTACULAR.
I have embarrassed myself in front of Leigh Bardugo countless times now. I have loved the Grishaverse for years and when our Macmillan sales rep sent us ARCs of Ninth House (out today!!!), her first adult book, my coworkers and I were so excited. I love how Leigh walks the line between fantasy and horror and often blends the two together in wonderful and magical ways. Another super patient person with my fangirling, she answered all of my writerly questions and is just a wonderfully kind person.
Renee’s debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, was another YA book club book and I was so excited to share it with the high schoolers. Renee’s take on a story from the Arabian Nights mythology is sweeping tale of courtly intrigue and love against all odds. Flame in the Mist is set in Japan and has often been called a Mulan retelling, but that’s not quite accurate. It’s a great story of more courtly intrigue and love against all odds, but feels very different than her first duology. Her protagonists are some of the wittiest characters I have ever read, and her latest addition to her girl group’s book, The Beautiful, comes out today!
While these five ladies make up my personal fab five, there are of course lots of other great YA authors that I just haven’t read. And while it’s not my favorite genre anymore, the authors who write for YA have filled a much needed hole in the book marketplace. Now if I could only figure out how to have the publishing world pay attention to college age characters… that’s the next hole to fill!