YA Books That Are Actually Worth The Hype

(Standard.uk, 2018)

As an avid book reader, I am constantly searching for new material to read, despite ignoring all the unread books collecting dust on my shelf. Often the books that come to my attention are the ones that are the most hyped. They’re the most recommended novels at bookstores and libraries, the ones that pop up onto my dashboard, the ones that friends try to shove down my throat. However, sometimes the hyped books that everyone has seemed to enjoy don’t satisfy my hunger. They just miss the mark and I’m left feeling very disappointed. Or sometimes I hear people say, “That book is so overhyped that I’ll probably be disappointed.” So here is a list of books that will fill your cravings for the next great big read, despite the  massive hype around them.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Series) – Yes. One of the most hyped book series out there. The Harry Potter world has expanded into theme parks, movies, the biggest book fanbase and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. J.K Rowling even became the first author to be listed on the Forbes Billionaire list from her work (which she later dropped off due to donating vast amounts of her money to charity). Harry Potter, for those who’ve been living under a rock their entire lives, is the story of a young wizard, Harry, who finds out his parents were killed by an evil wizard called Lord Voldemort who, for some reason, was unsuccessful in killing him. As the only survivor to Voldemort’s wrath, many believe that Harry is the “chosen one”, selected to be the saviour of the wizarding world.  So, yes, Harry Potter is easily the most hyped book out there, but the plot, characters and messages presented throughout all seven books define the series as what it is today. The plot is so intricate and planned out that each book contributes to the story as a whole, with small parts in the first book playing a major role in the very last novel. The characters in Harry Potter are easy to identify with, facing very human struggles despite the fact that they’re wizards and witches. Each character is so defined and fleshed out, they seem to be leaping off the pages. The messages offered in Harry Potter are also important because they teach readers values like love, kindness and friendship. The messages also delve into complex themes such as racism and prejudice with “pure-bloods” and “half-bloods” reflecting issues that are unfortunately still prevalent in today’s society. Altogether, these books make up one of literature’s best reads and will forever be considered classics.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan (Series) – Surely most readers have heard of this famed series, or at least their terrible movie adaptations. I can absolutely say this though; these books absolutely live up to their hype. The book is about a young boy called Percy who finds out that his father is actually the Greek sea god, Poseidon. In consequence of this, many monsters are out for his blood and so he undertakes many quests to slay evil and save those in distress. The characters in Percy Jackson (and other Riordan books) represent a wide range of diversity including characters suffering from ADHD and dyslexia.  There are plenty of strong female characters and the main character doesn’t take all the lime-light – he actually encourages his peers to stand up for themselves. These books are also absolutely hilarious- I often find myself chuckling at the jokes even though I’ve read them many times. However, the main reason you should read these books is the fact that they are educational. Often, I am confronted by random bits of Greek mythology in everyday life and I still lean on my knowledge of Percy Jackson to absolutely ace the question and totally impress my peers. Seriously, it makes you sound like a genius when you can just rattle off ancient Greek mythology from the top of your head.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– Another story supported with many awards for both the book and its movie, which stars famous actors including Jeffrey Rush and Emily Watson, is the Book Thief. The book tells the tale of a small girl named Liesel, a German orphan in the second World War. Adopted by a woman with a fiery temper and a soft-spoken man, we follow Liesel as she grows up in this difficult time period. However, what does not get conveyed in the movie is how beautifully this book is actually written. It’s narrated by “death” who is dark, humorous and provides another perspective of the war. His chilling and bittersweet way of storytelling always leaves me crying at the end. One quote that stays with me is “They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss that expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.”” Through this technique of narration, it gives death a personality, something that most books don’t delve into. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this book is a dark and depressing replica of other novels telling of this time period. It’s actually a beautiful book portraying the innocence and playfulness of childhood. We see Liesel growing up and making her through life despite the looming shadow of Hitler and the War.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Series) – Taking the world of high fantasy by storm, many young adults around the globe have picked up the Throne of Glass series. Seriously, I’ve seen whole shelves in book shops dedicated to a shrine of the Throne of Glass books. The series is about a young heir dedicated to taking back her home country and throne, despite the creatures from a parallel universe invading her world intent on taking her down. The story is filled with strong female characters who organise battles, strategise armies and are skilled with weapons like long bows and swords. The story is about breaking out of your chains, whether it’s physical or mental, and going after what you want. As well as the series being empowering, Sarah J Maas uses beautifully crafted sentences that leave you with chills. She can sum up her scenes so well that I’ve often almost find myself hearing the clash of swords and the cries of battle.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Series)– Though not as hyped as others, I was very hesitant when I started reading the Six of Crows series. Not only were the covers magnificent, but I’d heard only good things about this duology. Six of Crows is a story about a group of misfits hired to sneak into a heavily guarded ice castle to rescue a man held hostage.  Quickly, I found this book was unlike anything I’ve read before. For one, these ‘misfits’, our heroes, were basically criminals, but were the better side of two bad options. Despite this, you are guaranteed to fall in love with all the characters, with their quirks and vulnerabilities. The book was fast paced with clever tricks and a twisted plot. It sucks you in and leaves you with the feeling that you’ve just read something amazing.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli– Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book that grew into the award-winning movie “Love, Simon”. It follows a closeted gay boy as he struggles with school, family, and the blackmailer threatening to expose him to the entire school. Since first reading it, it’s become one of my favourite books and I often recommend it to anyone looking for something to read. The story is sweet, funny and heart-warming. If there was a book equivalent of a hot chocolate on a winter day, this would be it.

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