Best YA Fantasy Books for Your Book Club

shutterstock_141036148One of the best parts about being a YA author is the fact that I get to read all the latest and greatest YA fiction in the name of research. As fun as it is to dive into a new world, analyzing the text afterward is even better. That’s why I love being a part of a monthly book club were we tear apart everything from fantasy to romance to nonfiction.

Since YA fantasy with strong heroines is my passion, I thought I’d share my top picks in this genre to read and discuss with your book club.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
One of the most lighthearted and enjoyable book club discussions I’ve had surrounded this book. In Roth’s world, everyone is split into five factions that are essentially personality types. Our book club had a blast deciding which faction we would belong to, and what it said about our character. The book also has a strong and unconventional female heroine who resonated with each of us in different ways. The author doesn’t shy away from making tough choices, and debating Roth’s decisions led to more serious discussions. Click here for some great questions to kick off your book club discussion on Divergent from the official HarperCollins guide.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Despite being a hot topic in pop culture right now, this trilogy raises some surprisingly complex questions about he nature of love, PTSD, and ethical questions of war. Click here for some great questions to kick off your book club discussion on Hunger Games from the Galesburg Public Library.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is a simple, relatively short book that yields awesome discussion. Lowry is a master of her craft, and everything from the futuristic society that she created to her complex characters resonates. Whether you love it or hate it, everyone has strong opinions on their take on Lowry’s world. Click here for some great questions to kick off your book club discussion on The Giver by LitLovers (incidentally, LitLovers is a great site to check out for book club questions and ideas in general).

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I know, I know. The Twilight series is probably not the most intellectually stimulating collection of books that you’ve stumbled upon. But it brings out the teenager in you, and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think you’ll enjoy debating Edward vs. Jacob. If you need a break from discussing heavy, serious texts, this is the perfect vacation for a lighthearted book club. Click here for some great questions to kick off your book club discussion on Twilight by Shmoop. I like these questions because they are some of the same ones I had in my head about the series.

Do you have favorite YA fantasy books that your book club has loved?

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Falling in Love on the Page

Picture1I’m writing the second book in my series, The Conjurors, and my main character is falling in love. Writing this in a way that feels real and conveys the power and passion of love when you’re 16 has been exceptionally hard for me to do well. If I keep it too minimal, readers won’t have an emotional investment in the relationship. But take it over the top, and it starts to feel like a cheesy romance novel.

Not to be controversial, but my one gripe with J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter (of which I’m a HUGE fan) was that I never felt invested in Harry and Ginny. Hermione and Ron, I was totally rooting for. But somehow I always felt like Harry deserved a more compelling love story.

At the other extreme, Stephanie Meyer‘s Twilight series hit a nerve with YA girls for the romance, but for the rest of us who were looking for more substance to the world and the action surrounding that story, the series was disappointing.

hungergamesSo how do writers find the right balance? I think that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins did a great job of weaving a dynamic love triangle with a gripping story. It gave the series an emotional center that made the stakes higher and the consequences more poignant.

What YA books do you think have done an exceptional job with romance?