1. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley — I’m starting with what I consider to be the very first young adult novel I read. This novel came out in 1982, long before there was a category called “young adult,” but it has all the hallmarks of a fabulous teenage girl’s most delicious fantasy: strong heroine, strange land, a magic sword, and at the very end, true love.
2. Pawn of Prophecy by David & Leigh Eddings — Yes, this is still old school, but it is the book that got me hooked on fantasy. I began reading this series (The Belgariad) when there were only two books out: this one and the second, Queen of Sorcery. This was before we found out that Mr. Eddings wrote these books with his wife, and long before his death. It has a boy, a mysterious aunt, and an incredible depth of suspense I can’t adequately describe except to say that it lasts for the entire series.
3. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer — This is, quite simply, one of the most creative, disturbing, fantastic books I have ever read. I bought the digital version, then promptly bought the hardcover. What would you do if a meteor hit the moon and broke it? The girl we follow in this book is heroic, selfish, selfless, funny, sad, and a myriad of other things that it’s best to discover by reading this book right away.
4. Matched by Ally Condie — I first read this book as an ARC I picked up from Book Expo America in Manhattan a few years ago. I loved the cover. Then I read the book and was completely flabbergasted. The social commentary and moral issues are brilliantly interwoven within the character development and plot of this novel. It’s awesome.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins — If you haven’t read this yet, um, where have you been? I assure you, it’s actually a wonderful read. I love the main character and the part where she totally kicks butt? Awesome.