As I am now in my early 20s I thought it would be a great idea to look back on the books that defined my teen years. I have always been a big reader and this was something that could definitely be said about my teen years. At this time in my life I was reading an entire series of books in one go and getting through more than three books a week.
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
It would not be a best or top books post from me without at least one mention of Cassandra Clare. For me her books have always been a huge part of my life as ‘The Mortal Instruments’ in particular was one of the first times that I truly fell in love with an author and the worlds that she created. Her books have carried me through my teens straight into my adult years and I am still reading them to this day. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for ‘Chain of Gold’ to come out in just over a month.
I could honestly talk about this series for hours on end, but for now I will keep this short. The Mortal Instruments is set in New York City, but not one known for us. This world is plagued with demons and downworlders (faeries, wolves, warlocks and vampires) and is kept under control by a police force of sorts called shadowhunters; half humans with angelic powers.
The story opens with Clary Fray, a supposedly normal girl, with her best friend Simon Lewis who are out to celebrate her birthday. Whilst at club pandemonium Clary witnesses what she thinks is a murder however this is not the case. This is Clary’s first run in with shadowhunters. After returning home to find that her mom has gone missing, Clary is attacked by a demon and is fatefully saved by Jace Wayland, a shadowhunter. After being attacked and rendered unconscious Clary is taken to the New York Institute (the shadowhunter base) and finds out that she is also a shadowhunter.
I think the main reason why I love these books so much is because I found myself relating to traits from certain characters. Also Cassandra Clare created a book world where for the first time in my life I found myself wanting to be there and be a part of the action. It probably sounds pretty lame, but I definitely wanted to be a shadowhunter in my teen years.
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
I am for sure due a re-read of this series soon as when I first picked up the series I was a young teen however now in my 20s I can’t be too sure that the story isn’t a little too juvenile for me. However when reading the ‘Starcrossed’ series for the first time I devoured each book and read them back to back.
With the story being set around Greek mythology it makes perfect sense for the main character to be named Helen – after Helen of Troy. Helen has mysterious nightmares which more often than not include three women. Now this may be a slight spoiler however if you are a mythology fan then you will more than likely guess that these women are The Furies. It is later revealed that almost all of the new people that Helen meets are Greek characters from the Trojan war who have been reincarnated over and over again.
For those who aren’t necessarily interested in Greek mythology do not feel like you cannot read this series. The central theme is based around mythology but you really do not need to have a vast knowledge on it already.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I think this series is one that a lot of people would agree with me on. At some point in your life you have debated whether you are team Peeta or Gale and this could come purely from the movies (which I also love).
For those who may not have heard of ‘The Hunger Games’ and have clearly been living under a rock, the trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen a loving sister who is pretty decent with a bow and arrow. Set in Panem, a state divided into 13 districts, children aged between 12 to 18 are put into a draw to compete in a televised battle royale. The winner gains a life of luxury and becomes a part of the notorious group of Victors.
‘Catching Fire’ is definitely my favourite book in series for many reasons of which I can’t really talk about without spoiling the story for those who may not have read it. Lets just say there are a lot of plot twists that make it the most exciting book for me. Also I have always been massively team Peeta and he really is the star of this book.
A big reason why I love these books is definitely that the action outweighs the romance, don’t get me wrong I love romance as much as the next person however at times it can get tiring in YA books.
When We Collided by Emery Lord
I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA however when I do, I really enjoy them. Emery Lord is most likely my favourite contemporary writer. Her writing style really suits me and the way that sensitive topics such as mental health, grief and familial problems are explored in this book is something that I really admire. She is not one to sugar coat things and her characters are real people suffering from real problems.
‘When We Collided’ follows main characters Vivi Alexander and Jonah Daniels through alternating perspectives. I’m not usually the type of reader who enjoys books when the story is told through different perspectives however this book had me captivated from the get go.
Family is a big part of this book and oh how endearing the Daniels family are. A family with six children can be hard to get right however each character is so complex and well rounded that it’s hard not to love them. Kind-hearted Jonah who is trying to hold his family together after the recent death of his father finds respite from the daily struggles when he meets Vivi. Seventeen and recently diagnosed with bipolar Vivi seamlessly fits into the Daniels family and soon love begins to bloom between her and Jonah.
This book is perfect for people who are looking for a quick read that will really stay with you. I went into this book not knowing just how deep the storyline would be and even with this in mind I would still say that it is one of my favourite standalones.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
A cyborg Cinderella sounds pretty cool right? Definitely right. Cinder, a mechanic living in New Beijing, is a cyborg – the result of an accident that orphaned her as a child. Cyborgs are treated poorly so only a select number of people know Cinder’s secret. Similar to the original fairy tale Cinder lives under the tyranny of her stepmother and stepsisters, who have been invited to a ball at the palace. Once again Cinder is not permitted to go, even though all citizens of New Beijing are invited. Her stepmother, Adri, treats Cinder as her property and shuns her for being a cyborg.
In the world where ‘Cinder’ is set there are two colonies; one on Earth and another on the moon. Those living on the moon are known as Lunars – evolved humans who now possess the powers of mind control used for deceptions in thoughts and appearances. The Lunar Queen Levana is cruel woman who is said to have killed her sister to gain her position of power and murdered her three year old niece so her position could not be threatened.
This whole world is something that amazed me more and more as I read each book. Marissa Meyer shows amazing character development, especially with Captain Thorne – who you meet in book two ‘Scarlet’. She writes funny and witty characters who you can’t help but love and cruel and evil characters who you love to hate.