It’s always my goal to spend more time with a paper book than my computer screen, and the type of book that draws me in most is young adult fantasy fiction. It retains a sense of innocent adventure often lacking in adult novels, and it’s a breath of fresh air at the end of a long day. There’s no shame in leaving adulthood for a while, jumping aboard a pirate ship or war machine, and losing yourself.
Also, reading is a healthier practice than watching TV, for example, because it requires a more active process. As you read, your brain has to create pictures for you, rather than simply consuming what it sees.
If you’re looking for a summer escape, here are some of my personal young adult fantasy suggestions.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. What happens when a hero fails to complete his prophecy? The Final Empire is a dark world laced with oppression, where ash falls instead of rain. At last, a courageous leader named Kelsier, who posseses magical powers, joins with the skaa, the lower class serfs, to rise up in rebellion. Vin, a young thief with the same powers, joins him to defeat their overlords. However, she learns that victory often comes with terrible sacrifice. In this well-rounded fantasy novel, magical powers link with scientific reasoning to create a believable and engaging world.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. All hell is about to break loose in World War I. On one side, the Austro-Hungarians and Germans are armed with massive, steam-powered battle machines. The British, thanks to Charles Darwin, use genetically fabricated creatures as their warships. Westerfeld adds a cast of vivid characters to this scene, including newly orphaned Prince Alek and Deryn Sharp, a girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can join the service. Adventure is unavoidable! This is hands down my favorite series for young adults.
Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell. The country of Farsala has enjoyed prosperity for years, but a formidable enemy now approaches. The country looks to their legend of a savior for protection, but will this mysterious “Sorahb” come as promised? Young people Jiann, Soraya, and Kavi are swept up from different corners of Farsala as they bring this legend to reality. I love Farsala’s middle-eastern culture, and the plot is thoroughly engrossing.
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. Incarceron is a prison that stretches for miles. The dark, rusty worlds within are endless, and its prisoners are doomed to eternal captivity. Claudia, the warden’s daughter is determined to discover the prison’s location, and escape an arranged marriage. Finn, a prisoner within Incarceron, has no memory of his past life or identity, but he searches for escape. Little do they know that Incarceron itself is alive and angry.
Watership Down by Richard Adams. A courageous band of rabbits follow their instincts in search of safety, but danger isn’t always black and white. If you saw the violent Disney movie as a child, you might be scarred from ever reading this book. I would still encourage it, using the cliché line, “The book is better.” Even though this book is a classic fantasy with many social and political themes, it’s easy to read.
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