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Topic: What book did you love? (Pimp your YA Hidden Gems)

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Subject: What book did you love? (Pimp your YA Hidden Gems)
Date Posted: 9/23/2009 12:08 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Jennifer's Jane Yolen post made me think of this - What book did you love when you were growing up that no one else seems to have read?

Mine is Rite of Passage by Alexi Panshin.  I loved this book when I was a young teen.  It's one of the rare SciFi books with a scrappy, smart female protagonist.  It won awards when it came out in the '70s, but now seems mostly forgotten, which is a shame.

It's about a young girl, Mia, who lives on a large, city-size space station several generations after Earth was destroyed by over-population.  There are all these really interesting class issues between the people who live on the ships and the settlers who live on planets.  When the kids on the space station turn 14 (I think), the have their "Rite of Passage", i.e. they are dropped on a planet and must survive for a week.  It's a really fascinating and wonderful coming of age story. 

What books did you love that you don't see mantioned very often?

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 12:37 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
Posts: 2,235
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Tom's midnight garden - i loved this book growing up and for years would wish that the grandfather clock would strike 13. it is one of the best books I have ever read,

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 4:18 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,499
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The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy.

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold

(Warning, that has graphic negative sexual bits)

Of Swords and Spells by Delia Marshall Turner

A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman  (both self image and mother issues, oh my.)

Sunshine by Robin McKinley (well, anything by her)

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 6:46 AM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 285
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Curse you!  Now I have to find Rite of Passage and re-read it.   I do remember enjoying the book, but I forget how it ends.

Books  that stuck with me you that you don't hear about much these days:

House of Stairs by William Sleator.    Five teenages wake up in a space filled with stairways suspended in the air and have to figure out what's going on.

The Far Side of Evil by Sylvia Engdahl.   An observer from another world integrates into a planet that is at its "critical stage," where they have nuclear weapons but no space exploration and therefore face possible extinction.  Despite her orders, she is tempted to intervene.

The Children of Morrow   Set in a post-apocolyptic society, Tia and Rabbit must hide their "differences" from their community until the day they must run and try to find sanctuary. 

Last Edited on: 9/23/09 7:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/23/2009 7:01 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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When I was in high school I found the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.  They are written for a slightly younger than YA audience, and Diana Wynne Jones shouldn't be a hidden gem, because she's been around since the 1970s and is very well-regarded, but many people still don't know about her!  Chrestomanci is a nine-lived magician whose job is to keep the lesser witches and warlocks in line.  He lives in a castle with his family and takes in his cousins Cat and Gwendolyn as his charges after their parents die.  Gwendolyn causes a lot of trouble, leaves to a different world, and is replaced by Janet, who looks exactly like her (it turns out that worlds split when a major event happens - one for each possible outcome - and everyone has doubles on other worlds, except for the Chrestomanci who is the only one, but he gets all his extra lives because of it).

I read the books in a four-book omnibus that had the books Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Magicians of Caprona, and Witch Week.  Order doesn't really matter, because the books aren't presented sequentially and you can build the world by yourself.  There's also a short-story collection called Charmed Life, and two more books, Conrad's Fate and The Pinhoe Egg.

The other great thing about Diana Wynne Jones is that most of her books were reprinted with the popularity of Harry Potter.  This series is probably the most similar to Harry Potter, but don't think of it as an imitator - the first book came out in the 1970s.

(And if you're still wondering who DWJ is, the Miyazaki movie Howl's Moving Castle, which came out a few years ago, is based on her novel of the same name.)

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 7:13 AM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 285
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I love Diana Wynne Jones - one of my favorite of hers is The Power of Three.  It's a bit darker in tone than her other books (although still okay for the younger set), with some neat turns and twists that forces the reader to shift perspectives.

Dogsbody is also great, about the star Sirius being exiled to Earth in the body of a dog who is adopted by a lonely girl - great YA SF and dog story all rolled into one.

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 10:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I really loved The Haunting by Margaret Mahy. I spent 5 years trying to remember the title, and then randomly came across it on PBS a year or so ago! I was so happy. I remembered every detail of the cover.

For a recent book: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I think it was overshadowed by The Hunger Games last year and the sequel (The Ask and the Answer) has been overhadowed by Catching Fire this year. I liked The Hunger Games a lot, but it didn't compare to The Knife of Never Letting Go. 

Last Edited on: 9/23/09 11:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 9/23/2009 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I've been trying to figure out what the title of House of Stairs was for 20 years!!  Was that the book where the kids were rewarded for violent behavior?

I love, love, love Rite of Passage and really don't understand why people stopped reading it.  Do you think it was taken off YA lists because the The Sex Between Teens With No Negative Consequences?

Date Posted: 9/29/2009 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 9/15/2008
Posts: 148
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While I was growing up I read all of Amelia Atwater Rhode's books.  It was cool because she was fourteen when she wrote them, and I was about twelve when I read them.  I started with Demon In My View, and still highly recommend it.  With Twilight bringing back all the vampire books, you can now buy all of the books in one giant omnibus.  It is very cool.