NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels

So a while ago I had this post where I first talked about NPR’s summer poll where they were looking for the top 100 Teen Novels.  Well, they’ve finished tallying up all the votes and their final list is up.  Here’s a link to the list, and here are my thoughts about it.  (I’m not going to talk about every book, just some of them.  I’m also going to include links to those books that I have reviews for if you’re interested and haven’t read them.  For a series the link will be to the review of the first book unless otherwise noted.)

Lets start at the top.  Not surprisingly, The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling took the number one place on the list.  And I couldn’t agree more, I’ve said before that I think this is one of the most important series of books to come out in the past 20 years because it’s one of the only series in recent memory where kids were breaking down the doors of bookstores because they wanted to read the books the day they came out.  I’m glad to see it this high on the list.  (Book 1Series Review)

#2: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I really enjoyed this series, and I thought it was well written, but I also wonder if this is more of a “what’s popular now” pick than some other books.  I think this list came out at the perfect time for The Hunger Games to be this high.  (Again, I’m not saying that it isn’t deserving, I really enjoyed the books.)

#8: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  I don’t know if I’d really qualify this one as a teen book.  I think it’s primarily on the list because it’s taught to high school students on a regular basis.

#10: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I loved this book and I’m thrilled that it’s on the list, especially since it’s this high.

#12: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams.  Again, not really sure if I’d consider this to be truly a teen novel, but a lot of the humor in the books probably works better for teens than for some adults.  I enjoy the series and can’t complain about it being on the list.

#17: The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Wonderful book and I’m glad to see it here.  It’s a really interesting example of a sort of meta-fiction where the author plays with a lot of what we normally take for granted about books.

#19: Divergent Series by Veronica Roth.  I can see why it’s up this high, because the story in the first book was executed quite well.  Unfortunately, if you have any knowledge of psychology and how personality works the worldbuilding completely falls apart.

#25: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  This is a really weird book that has a unique narrative voice.  I thought about choosing this book for my 10th choice, but while it’s a very interesting way of telling a story, I don’t know if it’s the kind of book I would give to a teen to try to get them to read more.

#27: Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer.  I haven’t read the books (and don’t plan on it) but I’ve heard a lot of people say that they aren’t very well written, and that they don’t do a whole lot to encourage women to be strong on their own.  However, I still say that any series that gets people to read is a good thing.

#28: Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld.  I haven’t read these, but I did vote for The Leviathan Series by Westerfeld, and I’m glad to see him on the list.

#36: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  Another fantastic book that I’d highly recommend.  There’s also a very good movie based on the book, which makes it highly accessible as a story in multiple formats.

#38: A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  We read this book in my junior year English class in high school, and this is one of the few books that I’ve gone back and re-read after school.  I really like this book and I would highly suggest it.

#41: Dune by Frank Herbert.  This is a great book, truly a classic piece of literature, but it’s not a teen book.

#42: Discworld/Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett.  I recently read The Color of Magic by Pratchett, and I think it’s one of the worst books I’ve ever read.  I personally prefer the Xanth series by Piers Anthony which is very similar to Discwold, a continuing series of books that take place in the same world with a rotating cast of characters. (The Color of Magic, Discworld Book 1)

#48 The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.  Another one that I haven’t read but that I endorse for the same reasons as Harry Potter and Twilight, anything that gets people reading is a good start.

#65 The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.  I’ve read the first book in this series and have the other two, but I read the first book well before I started my blog and didn’t want to do a review for the second book in a series without having the first on here so I’ve been putting them off.  (I’ve since done that several times, most notable with Orson Scott Card’s Ender series, where I have reviews up for books 2-9 but not Ender’s Game.)  The first book was fun and did some interesting things with fantasy tropes.

#74 The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner.  This is a series that it definitely thriving because of the current dystopia trend in YA.  The first book was decent, the second was actually pretty good, but the ending of the series left me really upset that I read it at all.  (Book 2Book 3)

#82 I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak.  Another great book that I’m glad to see on this list.  I would personally like to see it higher, but The Book Thief is his better known book and might have taken a few votes away from this one.

#92 Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld.  I loved this series, but I can understand why it’s this low on the list, steampunk is a really weird genre to get into.  I do have to plug one thing about the books, they have illustrations in roughly every chapter that add a lot to the series, I’d highly suggest this to kids.

Overall I don’t have a whole lot of complaints about the list.  I’m pleased that everything that I voted for made the final 100, apparently I have some good taste in books.  My biggest complaint is still no Ender’s Game, but it was their decision not to include it on the list.

So what do you think?  Did the voting public come up with a good list?

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  1. Reblogged this on The First Gates and commented:
    Since Adam found and followed this list, I thought I’d let him introduce the results with his take on them. As he did, I thought the final selections made a lot of sense – more than I had initially expected. Enjoy!

  2. It looks like they had the same problems with this list that they did with the Fantasy and Science Fiction list they did earlier, and that is having books on the list that aren’t really the right classification. I agree with your thoughts on several of these being worthy books but are not “teen” books. I wish the committee would do a better job screening out popular books that aren’t really in the category they are promoting.

    I read my first Discworld novel recently, Thud!, and loved it. Fun characters and a really entertaining story.

    Haven’t read the Twilight or Potter series. I’ve heard similar things about both and while I appreciate their popularity and what they’ve done for promoting reading, I’m just not interested.

    The Uglies series always looks very interesting but I haven’t felt moved to pull the trigger.

    • The SciFi/Fantasy list I didn’t have a huge problem with, there were a couple of books that I think are kind of questionably included in the list (although the books I question are probably different from books other people would question). The biggest problem is that specifically YA books are a fairly recently differentiated category. So a lot of books that are 25+ years old weren’t classified as Teen books since that distinction didn’t exist then. The only book I really have a complaint about being on this list is Dune, and the absence of Ender’s Game really annoys me as well.

      The Harry Potter books are actually quite good. The biggest problem that I have with the series is that I thought the last book was the weakest of the series. The books are also pretty quick reads, last summer I went through the entire series in about 2 weeks, which isn’t bad for something like 3800 pages.

      I’ve heard that a lot of the later Discworld novels are much better than the early ones, and I certainly hope so, The Color of Magic was dreadful.

      I’ll get to the Uglies series eventually, maybe I’ll see if I can find it in a box set sometime.

      • Yes, Dune is definitely not one that should be on this list. And I say that while admitting it is one of my favorite SF novels. And yes, Ender’s Game is one that is ridiculous to not be on here. Makes me wonder if it has to do with Card’s beliefs as I cannot believe it wouldn’t have received a high number of votes.

        I think the problem I have with SF/F list is that books like Frankenstein and Dracula are only included because of a too broad definition of SFF. I love both books but don’t think they belong on a SFF list. But that is just me.

      • Ender’s Game wasn’t even included in the options to vote for the list. The people who created the list deemed that it was too violent for teens, in large part because of *spoiler* the xenocide at the end of the book. I think that’s a BS argument since they allow plenty of other violent books on the list. Hunger Games for example has kids killing each other, and there are some deaths at the end of Mockingjay that are purely vindictive kills rather than defense of the entire human race. Basically it was a stupid decision by someone who made the list and it ended up keeping one of the greatest books of all time off a list that some people will use to look for books to buy in the future.

        Ender’s Game was included in last year’s poll about SciFi/Fantasy books and it came in third. It probably would have come in the top 3 on this list as well.

      • That is pretty stupid, and leads me to believe even more that the true agenda behind keeping it off the list was something to do with Card’s views on homosexuality, not the violence. After all, this is a list for “teens”, not a list for “children’s” books.

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