There comes an age when parents and children can start reading the same books together. Sure, you really loved The Green Sheep and the Tashi books, but we’re talking books you can immerse yourself in as you would any other adult novel. And school holidays is the perfect time to embark on some reading adventures together and discuss the books you’ve both enjoyed.
Better Reading’s own Young Adult expert, Jess Horton, has long been passionate about YA fiction. Now in her twenties, she still loves this genre and here are her recommendations that both adults and teens can enjoy:
Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) by Eoin Colfer
You can’t help but like Artemis Fowl. For all his bluster and conniving, he’s still just a 12 year old boy dealing with the disappearance of his father and the manic episodes of his mother. And he manages to give the fairies a run for their money with the help of his faithful manservant Butler, and Butler’s wrestling-fan sister Juliet.
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
A society with a hierarchy based on the colour spectrum that people can see is a fascinating idea. Eddie Russet, a lowly Red, is sent out to a fringe town to conduct a chair census. There he meets Jane, a Grey, and the chemistry is instant. But Eddie and Jane slowly begin to realise that nothing is quite what it seems, least of all Emerald City, where misfits are supposedly sent to be brainwashed into productive civilians.
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
A group of high school students become unlikely friends after the announcement of an impending apocalypse. This bunch of misfits is written so cleverly that you feel like you know them. It definitely makes you wonder, “What would I do if I only had a 33% chance of survival?” Best for older readers, with sexual references and swearing.
Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
Set in the steampunk Victorian era, a 14-year-old girl is sent off to an exclusive finishing school, only to find it deals in espionage, assassination, and the supernatural. A surprising and highly enjoyable read, not just for girls!
Redwall (Redwall #1) by Brian Jacques
The story of a mouse who goes on a quest to find a legendary sword and save the local abbey from attack. Good for those who like historical fiction, as it deals with quests and the fight between good and evil.
The Magicians (The Magicians #1) by Lev Grossman
Quentin is obsessed with an old series of books about children in a magical world, but believes magic isn’t real, until he’s admitted to an exclusive college of magic after graduation. This is the darker cousin of Harry Potter, full of danger and suspense. A must-read for anyone who grew up with Hogwarts. Best for older readers, as it deals with first-year college students.
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Alina, an orphan-turned-soldier, awakens a dormant power within her to save her best friend, and is whisked away to a life unlike anything she’s ever known. While this novel focuses on Alina learning to control her powers, the two other books in series are much darker, and even more of an addictive read.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
If you’ve only watched the movies, please read the books! There’s so much detail in the series that is lost, not the least of which is Peeves the poltergeist, who provides much-needed comic relief. A favourite of children and parents the world over, this has quickly become a must-read for everyone over the age of 10.
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
You could pick this book up now and it would still be as relevant as the day it was written. Though Josie is your typical teenager, you can’t help but sympathise with her through her rebellion against her grandmother’s traditional values, her mother’s no-nonsense attitude, and the fraught relationships she has with her father and the boys her own age. Suggested for age 12 and up, as it deals with themes such as teenage pregnancy and romance.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Nobody “Bod” Owens, escaped from a killer as a baby and was raised in a graveyard by ghosts and the mysterious Silas (hinted at being a vampire). I think this book has universal appeal, because while it’s not too scary for younger YA readers, it’s also thrilling enough for older readers.
Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
As the eldest of three daughters, Sophie knows that she is destined to fail if she leaves home to seek her fortune. But when she accidentally angers a powerful witch, she finds herself turned into an old woman, and sets out for the home of the mysterious Wizard Howl, hoping to break the spell. A spellbinding (literally!) tale with magic, suspense, and an element of mystery.
Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix
What happens when a teenage girl, sent off to boarding school in another country where there is no magic, suddenly becomes the Abhorsen – a supreme necromancer who keeps the living dead at bay? With a quest to save her father from the clutches of evil, and finding love in the unlikeliest of places, Sabriel is enjoyable to the last.
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