NPR…I’m shaking my head at your idea. There is absolutely no way we can pigeon hole 100 books into a list titled “100 Best YA Books Ever”. Impossible. And here is why:
1. “Young adult” spans from 12-18. Or is it 11-17? Or is it just high school? Or is it post-high school, through mid-20s? Yeah, we can’t decide on the right age grouping. And who decides if a book is “YA”? The publisher? The purchasers (teens, library catalogers)? The “Readers Advisory” advisors (librarians, teachers, book store clerks)? Just look at Alex Award Winners: adult books that appeal to young adult readers. Can we include those in our nominations? Because just as many teens as adults are reading Ready Player One, but according to the publisher, it’s an adult novel.
2. See above and think about this: what is appropriate and beloved by a 12 year old is totally criticized by an 18 year old. TTYL is on a completely different level than Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but both series are about a group of high school best friends. Can both be on the list, or will one be denied because the other awfully similar book is on the list…but it’s not all that similar? (This works with all types of genres, not just realistic fiction.)
3. 100 titles? Over 4,900 YA books were published in 2011 alone, and you think a bunch of YA book-lovers can pick 100? Not to mention, you’re asking each responder to submit 5 titles. FIVE?! We read these books for a living, attend awards shows and follow Twitter accounts and read interviews just to learn more about our favorite authors and their expert literary creations. And you expect us to choose 5? That’s like asking Snow White to pick a favorite dwarf. Like asking Jay Z to pick a least favorite of his “99 Problems”. Not happening, folks.
4. What poor intern has been given the job of collating the responses (1,551 as of July 7)? S/he deserves a paid job after that little task. And not an “assistant” anything. No way. S/he totally deserves some kind of high-paid, management-level appointment because s/he clearly has what it takes to move forward (read: an “I’ll do anything!” attitude) in the cutthroat biz of journalism.
5. I will never agree with your list, NPR. I will find a better alternative for probably every other book.
I am not a fan of “top XYZ” lists, because uneducated/non-reading librarians, teachers, and book store clerks will rely on those lists for Readers Advisory, instead of actually reading any books (on the list or not). Lists like that are a crutch, and I am totally against them. That being said:
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
3. The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
(I linked to the author’s websites because linking to their books would be unfair to their other incredible works of literature. Obviously I think those on the list are their best, but I also have mad respect for each of the authors.)