“Young Adult” is not a genre, but simply a marketing niche. Young adult books tend to be fast paced, frequently first person and feature teen protagonists (although the villain is likely to be adult).Young adult novels cover all genres, from space opera to serial killers, high school romance to epic fantasy. One popular genre in young adult fiction is of course dystopia. This genre has given us great books and movies such as Hunger Games and Divergent. Another popular young adult genre is fantasy and science fiction.
Research is showing that over half young adult books are being read by those over 18. So put away any hang ups at reading ‘children’s books’ as we review some young adult novels that we believe should reach fantasy epic status. And who knows, maybe even a movie or tv series.
1. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
The first book of the Kingkiller Chronicle tells the story of the Kvothe, from his childhood and his rise to notoriety as a wizard. Fans of fantasy looking for an epic that could restore their faith in the genre can look no further than Name of the Wind. The storytelling is magical with solid character development from the start. Masterfully handled, the story is told from the protagonist’s first person point of view, with interludes in third person omniscient to give readers a clearer impression of other characters. Name of the Wind could easily be described as Harry Potter for slightly older readers. Rothfuss creates a detailed, believable world of academic magic; youthful exploits; love; humor; and revenge.
The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two is already released and we eagerly await the book 3 in what will surely be an epic series.
(Patrick has just announced that he is in discussions for a possible movie, TV series and video game. We can hardly wait!)
2. Mistborn: The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy readers looking for something that goes a little bit beyond the genre’s familiar archetypes will enjoy the Mistborn trilogy. Not only is its mist and ash-laden apocalyptic world intriguing, The Final Empire introduces an original magic system unlike any sorcery centric novel. The premise is also rather unique; it explores the question of what if the prophesied hero fails and the world fall into the rule of a Dark Lord? Despite its dark setting, the novel is face-paced and filled with likable characters that will leave readers engrossed in the adventure and looking forward to the two sequels.
For more in the Mistborn world, recently released is the The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel set a long time after the events of the original trilogy.
3. The Way of Shadows: The Night Angel Trilogy: Book 1 – Brent Weeks
If you ever wish the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise was an action-packed novel series, The Way of Shadows will be the closest you could ever come to that wish. Follow the tale of Azoth who – in order to escape the treacherous life in the slums – apprenticed to the legendary assassin, Durzo Blint. Under his apprenticeship as a Night Angel, Azoth is given a new identity, forced to turn his back on loved ones, and develop an appetite for taking lives. Readers are set for a fast-paced and fun to read, although brutal at times, adventure filled with fantasy archetypes. Despite the archetypal character types – assassins, masters and disciples, unconquerable enemies – there are some brilliant and surprisingly believable characterizations that will endear readers to them. An intriguing beginning to this young adult trilogy.
For other Young Adult recommendations, see our earlier list 6 Young Adult Books That Are Worth Reading