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The Best Young Adult Novels? You Tell Us

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
June 18, 2012

Teen fiction shares the virtues of youth itself: energy, vividness, passion. Like adolescents, teen novels revel in drama and grapple with life’s big questions.

For many of us — including the large adult audience that now follows young-adult (YA) fiction — these books also make perfect vacation reads, which is why NPR Books is focusing this year’s annual summer readers’ poll on YA fiction. During the coming weeks, your votes will decide the titles that make our top-100 list of the best YA novels ever.

The first step in the process is to assemble nominees from you, the audience. To nominate your favorite YA books for consideration, log in below and write the titles and authors into the comments field. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Limit yourself to five titles per post. Don’t hesitate to nominate a book that someone else has already listed; your entry will count as a vote that will help that title progress to the next round.

2. Nominate “multivolume novels” as one work. The Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games trilogy, for example, will be judged as single, collective works — so don’t bother listing the separate titles in the series.

3. That said, not all series are “multivolume novels.” To be judged as a collective work, the books in a series must be written by the same originating author or authors and must tell a more or less continuous story — usually about a consistent group of characters. So, you can’t nominate the whole Goosebumps series as such, but you can nominate The Horror at Camp Jellyjam as an individual work.

The question is bound to come up: How do we define a YA novel? There are many answers. Some focus on the typically young protagonists in these books, or the themes they take up of self-discovery and the challenges of youth. Librarians typically peg the age range for young-adult readers at 12 to 18 years. In the end, though, a YA book is any book that is either marketed to or claimed by a youth audience — a circular definition, to be sure. We’ll assemble a panel of writers and critics that will make any tough calls we face in the judging.

Meanwhile, tap into your inner adolescent — and memories of the books that moved and inspired you. And then send us your lists! [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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