It’s October, and everyone loves a good vampire. Keyword: good. I read the Twilight series. You see where I’m going already, right? The only reason I finished was because I’d started, and by the end, I was ready to go punch something. I know a lot of parents object to the really screwed up toxic relationship between Bella and Edward, but my objection was that it was just horribly written. Nobody had to sacrifice. Nobody had to grow. (Spoiler rant alert.) Bella got everything she ever wanted and lived happily ever after with her sparkly friends, convenient new powers, and a mind-reading baby that doesn’t require any child rearing.
Moms, we can do better. I’m not saying we ban any books. I’m just saying there are some fantastic books and series out there that are entertaining, disturbing, thought-provoking, and just plain better written. Sometimes it’s harder to find a female protagonist in young adult fantasy, but it can be done. Here are ten great young adult books or series for starters. I’m sure you all have some brilliant suggestions you’d like to add in the comments, right? Right?
I’ll start with an easy one. There’s the strong female protagonist, and there’s definitely a lot of sacrifice. This dystopian universe plays off of reality TV and war, and the results aren’t convenient or sparkly.
This book is an incredible fairy tale to restore your faith in fairy tales. It’s like Alice in Wonderland visits Nebraska. There’s language play and wonder and sadness all rolled up into one. This one isn’t just great for daughters. You’ll want to read it yourself.
Yes, it’s a movie, but first it was a Newbury-winning novel. I’ve always had a soft spot for this self-rescuing princess.
This series actually begins with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” It’s a timeless classic, and Meg Murry should be all of our heroes.
There’s some sex in this book, just so you’re warned, but it’s a thought-provoking read. If you lived in a world where you really were forever young and could do whatever you wanted without consequences, would you be happy?
Another classic that explores the downsides of being young and immortal. Plus don’t tell the kids, but they might be assigned this one in school.
Phillip Pullman set out to write a secular humanist counter argument to the Chronicles of Narnia. (Why do they celebrate Christmas in Narnia, anyway?) He succeeded in writing an adventure story that was much more compelling and far better written. It’s scary and fantastic and totally riveting. The movie doesn’t do it justice.
This series of books are great for the book-loving tween. Meggie’s father has the mysterious and uncontrollable gift of book reading. When he reads out loud, characters from the books literally come to life. Sometimes good characters. Sometimes bad characters, and now we’re off for an adventure.
You want your self-rescuing princess? I’ve got her right here. Well, maybe not a princess. More like the daughter of an inn-keeper, and there’s a lot of cooking of stew involved in this book.
You wanted a teenage vampire story? Here it is. In all fairness, this isn’t the best written book in this list, but it does deal with teenagers and vampires and romance. This is a book about death and loss that doesn’t pretend that vampires aren’t serial killers.
So there you have it. How you actually get your teen or tween to read these books over Twilight is up to you. Good luck with that.