Saturday, September 5, 2009

Compelling Reads

Have you ever been lucky enough to pick up a book that you just couldn't stop reading? I'm talking about a book that draws you in so completely that your surroundings fade away and you're deep in the world the author has created. And your family has to tear the book out of your hands so you can eat dinner. (Huh? Whaaa? Dinner?) Or you're reading late into the night and before you blink, it's three a.m.

Those kinds of books.

Here are a few recent Young Adult books that I've found compelling:

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (pubbed in 2006 by Harcourt, but I didn't discover it until the paperback came out in 2008)
When a meteor pushes the moon out of its orbit, life for everyone on earth changes. Tsunamis and earthquakes wipe out millions of people. Summer becomes as cold as winter. Miranda decides to keep a diary detailing how she and her family struggle to survive. So convincing it will make you want to run out and stock up on peanut butter and batteries.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (hardcover publisher Henry Holt, May 2008, paperback publisher Square Fish Sept 2009)

Jenna awakens from a year-long coma after an accident, with no idea who she is. Gradually, memories begin to come back to her but they're impossible. She can remember her baptism. She can quote entire novels. Who IS she really? What did her parents do while she was in that coma? Chilling futuristic stuff.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Random House, March 2009)

Honestly, I would never ever pick up a book about zombies. But this amazing cover pulled me in. And even then I only intended to read the first chapter or so (just to see what it was about) one morning when I had a day off work. Before I knew it, I was so deep in Mary's world that it was dinnertime and my husband was getting antsy. Best thing about it: she never uses the word zombie. They're the Unconsecrated. How cool is that?

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (St Martin's Griffin, May 2009)

Kyra is 13 and lives in a polygamous community in the desert. She has 20 brothers and sisters, three mothers and one father. And there's genuine love among them all. But Kyra has some guilty secrets. She sneaks out to a bookmobile and borrows books instead of reading only the Bible. She wants to kiss Joshua Johnson. Worst of all, she fantasizes about killing the leader of the cult (one of the best opening lines in any young adult novel). When she's told she has to marry her cruel 60-year-old uncle, she agonizes over whether or not to run away. Horrifying and amazing at the same time.

And here's one for Middle Grade readers:

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas (HarperCollins, June 2008)

Conn is a pickpocket and a gutter boy in Wellmet, a city that runs on magic. When he picks the wrong pocket, trying to steal a magician's locus magicalicus (a stone that helps magicians work spells), he winds up working for the magician. But Conn isn't content to be an errand boy. He wants to be an apprentice and learn magic. I read in one breath the scene where Conn is searching for his own locus stone.

What books have you found compelling enough to keep you reading late into the night?


  1. How did I not catch this post the first time around? It's really good -- no wonder you're proud of it! I've never read any of those books, but they sound as compelling as you say.

    I tend to get sucked into all books, as long as they're not so mediocre that they're distracting, but the most recent amazing one that had me thinking about it long after I put it down was The Hunger Games.

  2. Ah yes, Hunger Games. And Catching Fire is just as compelling. Thanks, Donna!


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