Here’s my continuing discussion of NPR’s Top 100 YA Books list. Yesterday, I talked about the books I like and would give increased recognition. Today, I’m complaining about the books I don’t like and that I think got too much acclaim in the rankings.
Here are the books I would bump lower on the list or leave off it:
27. Twilight series: It’s easy to imagine that four years ago, this series might have occupied the place that The Hunger Games does now (second). With the movie releases now winding down and the cheating drama between the stars, the Twilight hype seems to be fading. I’m glad. I don’t think it gives a good message. But I do understand how terribly seductive the novels are.
35. Go Ask Alice: I don’t remember if this was a real memoir or not. Either way, on pure literary value, I say no, it probably doesn’t belong on this list, and certainly not in the top half. It mostly seemed like it was just meant to scare you into avoiding drugs. And its cultural references were so far behind when I read it in high school that it wasn’t even very good propaganda. I’m sure the last few years haven’t been kind in that respect either. This is a book that made it on the list because of its history and story, because it was one of the first books to be marketed specifically for teenagers, not because it’s very fun to read.
38. A Separate Peace: I haven’t read this, but I knew people who were assigned this book for school and complained about it all day. Based on that, it probably doesn’t deserve this place.
48. The Inheritance cycle: I’ve read 2 or 3 of these books. I found them formulaic, overly concerned with action sequences and descriptions, and burdened with an annoying hero. There was even a “Luke, I am your father” moment. The series doesn’t deserve to be on the list.
49. The Princess Diaries series: I read 2 or 3 of these books. They deserve a lower spot on the list, because they lost my interest in trying to milk the series dry. The first book was fine, but there was no need to drag it out too long.
50. Song of the Lioness series: I’ve read and reviewed several of these books. I don’t think they deserve such a high spot based on literary merit. The character development and relationships are weak. They probably deserve to be on the list, because as I said in the review, books like Graceling could not have been written without this precedent.
54. Hush, Hush saga: I’ve read the first few of this series, and wasn’t super impressed. It’s problematic in some of the same ways that Fallen and Twilight are problematic. However, the final book could redeem the series.
68. House of Night series: I started to read this series but thought it got ridiculous and quit. Part of it was the series-dragging-on-forever problem, bu the biggest problem was a protagonist who’s too perfect and talented with an endless line of hot guys who want to date her. It doesn’t deserve to be on the list.
Another quibble: I would have put The Lord of the Rings together with The Hobbit as one entry. And if they must be ranked separately, I’d put LotR first.
The list also exposed a lot of gaps in my own reading. Here are the books on this list that I’ve been meaning to read for a while:
- 4. The Fault in Our Stars
- 17. The Princess Bride (in my stack this minute)
- 21. The Mortal Instruments Series
- 84. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
And here are the books I added to my reading list thanks to seeing them here and liking the description:
- 10. The Book Thief
- 19. Divergent series
- 36. Howl’s Moving Castle
- 40. The Abhorsen Trilogy
- 41. Dune
- 56. It’s Kind of a Funny Story
- 80. The Goose Girl (started it already)