Adults reading young adult books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it! YA has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.) Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.
Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions? Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance. There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books. Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works) can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.
James Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero. Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.
Stephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner). Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!
Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.
Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories. It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters.
Danielle Steel fans fans will fall in love with David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy (2004 Best Book for Young Adult Top Ten , 2006 Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2004 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.) Levithan has also done some fun collaborations: with Rachel Cohn in the form of he said/she said alternating chapter romances in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2007 Quick Pick Top Ten, 2007 Best Book for Young Adults) and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (2011 Best Book for Young Adults), and with John Green in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. For a really unique think-piece on identity, gender, and attraction check out Every Day.
Susan Wiggs fans may want to go steady with Sara Farizen’s two YA romance novels. In If You Could Be Mine two girls in Iran grapple with gender identity and love. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel explores an inter-racial relationship between two girls at a private high school.
Debbie Macomber lovers will fall for Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (2014 Printz Honor , 2014 Teens Top Ten, 2014 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers ,2014Best Fiction for Young Adults). Rowell is unconventional and never boring as she fearlessly tackles topics such as inter-racial relationships, class, abuse, and eighties pop music all framed in a swoon-worthly tale of first love.
Nicolas Sparks fans will want to have an affair with Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2013 Printz Honor Book.) Two boys from different backgrounds come of age in the Southwest and fall in love against the odds. Unique parent/teen relationships also make this one stand out from the crowd. Identity, sexual orientation, culture, and religion are also seamlessly interwoven to make this sweet romance.
In addition to simply exploring known genres within the realm of YA, you could recommend folks take it a step further by reading about characters from different racial and/or religious backgrounds, are LGBTQ, live somewhere unfamiliar, or are differently-abled. I tried to touch on some of these elements in my recommendations, and there are a ton more out there. It has become clear that in YA and everywhere, we need diverse books.
Have you anything to add to these genre read-alikes?
— Tara Kehoe, currently reading The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.