Top 100 Teen Novels

While perusing other posts under the books tag on WordPress, I came across a post talking about an NPR summer poll.  Last year they looked for the 100 Greatest Science Fiction/Fantasy books according to readers, and this year they’re looking for the 100 Greatest Teen Novels.  (For those interested, the top 100 SciFi/Fantasy list can be found here.)

The website for the poll can be found here.  This is a pretty exhaustive list of 235 books culled from nominations by various people.

Go vote, then come back here so I can talk about what I picked and a couple of questions I have about the list.

Done voting?  Ok, good.  here are the books I voted for:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
  • The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles

(If you’re interested in any of these books, I have reviews for all of them except The Hunger Games and A Separate Peace.  Links can be found under The Total Score page found at the top of my blog.)

Yes, I know that I only voted for 9 books and you’re allowed to vote for up to 10, but there wasn’t anything else on the list that was really jumping out at me as one of the best teen novels ever.

But as I said, I have a couple of questions on the list, some of which they kind of explain, but I still don’t agree with.  For example, where is Ender’s Game?  They said they didn’t include it because of the violence, yet The Hunger Games is on here, and I’d argue that it’s more violent than Ender’s Game.  I was also really puzzled by a couple of the books they had on there.  For example, The Lord of the Rings and Dune are both on their long list.  I must admit I’ve never actually read LotR (again, this is on there but no Ender’s Game?) but I don’t think it really qualifies as a teen book.  And Dune?  A teen novel?  I just read the book in May, Dune is not a standard teen novel.  I don’t care about their reasoning that it’s kind of a “rite of passage” for teen readers, it’s not a teen novel.

Anyway, those are my thoughts about the list, what do you think about it, and for that matter, what did you vote for?

Leave a comment


  1. I love that The Princess Bride is making so many lists. We definitely chose a few similar ones – Markus Zusak (KING OF YA) and Harry Potter, and Princess Bride. I chose some classics though because I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I voted and it made me reminisce on all the books I was made to read in high school that were actually worth way more than I gave them credit for. I didn’t see A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on their list but I would have voted for it. And if you haven’t read A House on Mango Street then you must! I’m hoping to teach a bit of it to my 9th graders next semester.

    • They said that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn wasn’t on the list because it was too mature for a teen novel, I can’t say because I haven’t read it. I’ve actually never read To Kill a Mockingbird either, I know we have a copy of it somewhere in the house (one of my brothers had to read it for school) and I’ll probably read it eventually. I’ll also have to look into A House on Mango Street.

      • How strange that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn isn’t on the list for that reason. I understand why that is, but it’s still odd seeing how a lot of these books have pretty mature content. You must have read the whole story – I just wanted to vote (I rush through things). That’s how I found my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird – it was floating around my house.

  2. sydnisan

     /  July 29, 2012

    I think that LOTR is actually really good for teens, I think what they mean is that it’s for all ages and that teens may enjoy it. I totally agree with your vote on The Book Thief, such an amazing book. I was confused as to why they put Anne Of Green Gables on there, to me it’s always been a childrens book

    • The said that LotR and Dune are books that some teens consider a ‘rite of passage.’ I’ve never actually read LotR (although I know we have copies of the books somewhere around the house, I should get on that) but I know there are some very mature themes in the story.

      • sydnisan

         /  July 29, 2012

        I don’t remember any mature themes. Oh! I know what your thinking of! You’re thinking of Unfinished Tales/ The Children Of Hurin! That one is set in the same fantasy world and has some weird stuff but LOTR was originally a childrens book but then as the trilogy went on, Tolkien found that it may be difficult for children to read.

  3. Here are my votes (in alphabetical order):

    The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
    Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Fun post, Adam, thanks. I also voted for only nine. The one serious omission I found on the choices we were given was the Narnia Chronicles.

    I also voted for the Hunger Games based on reading the first book only. Haven’t read the second too, in part because all the hype, and especially the Super Bowl add for the movie annoyed me. No doubt my personal boycott is hurting the franchise…

    I noticed that most of my choices come from before the recent explosion of YA as a hot commodity. There are certainly serious themes in some of these titles, but why not? Teens definitely wrestle with serious issues and can handle them in stories – which in no way negates a taste for escape. My reading choices have always bounced between the two poles.

    Looking at past poll results makes clear this is not a precise science. I mean, Anna Karenina as a “beach read???” I think not.

    • It’s very weird to see how they picked the list. After I went through the list and picked the 9 I voted for, I scrolled through the list 3 or 4 more times looking for a 10th book and none of the books on it jumped out at me for the 10th pick.

      I haven’t read the Narnia books, but you’re right that their omission is kind of strange.

  4. hannahrose42

     /  July 29, 2012

    I agree that LotR and Dune are a little less YA, and a little more rite-of-passage type books, but I’m still glad they let you vote for them. I don’t think there were any too-mature themes, but it has been a while since I read them… though I suppose that means I wasn’t turned off by them when I was a teen reader. I voted for:

    Abhorsen Trilogy / Old Kingdom Trilogy (series), by Garth Nix (my favorite series in middle school)
    Crank (series), by Ellen Hopkins
    Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
    His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series), by Douglas Adams
    The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
    Inheritance Cycle (series), by Christopher Paolini
    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    The Mortal Instruments (series), by Cassandra Clare (though I didn’t like the 4th as much, the first three deal really well with teen issues in a fantasy setting)
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles

    The books you voted for that I didn’t, I haven’t read yet, but all of them are on my to-read list!

    • Dune’s inclusion on this list to me is the biggest problem, there is no way that book should be on a YA list. It seems like most people do think that LotR belongs on the list though, I really need to read those books at some point.

      I haven’t read the books you voted for that I didn’t, but I’ll have to look into them.

  1. July 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings
  2. NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels « Reviews and Ramblings

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