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Suggestions, Please!

So, I'm doing a study on voice in young adult literature for school and I'm trying to finish up my bibliography for it today. I'm mainly using novels told in first person but also need some in third, and maybe even second.

I've already got a long list of options, especially in first, but I'd love to know what YOUR recommendations are for YA authors/novels with exceptional voice. One thing I'm looking for is novels in third person that aren't fantasy. I'm trying for a variety of subgenres and it seems like every book I can think of in third is a fantasy novel.

So, what do you suggest? Who/what are your favorites?

Thank you!


Mary Danielson said...

What a great idea for a study, Casey! I absolutely love third-person YAs, so I have a fair amount cluttering up my shelves. Some of my favorite non-fantasies are:

- Girl At Sea by Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes is also 3rd, if I remember correctly)
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (technically 3rd Omniscient)
- Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay (It's the first in a MG/YA crossover series and they're all 3rd omniscient.)

I never noticed it before, but you're right - the majority of 3rd person YAs do seem to be either fantasy or paranormal. Interesting trend...

From a pure voice standpoint, you can't go wrong with John Green, Libba Bray, Jaclyn Moriarty, Maureen Johnson, or Maggie Stiefvater. They all have such distinct voices, evident in even just a single paragraph they write. When I need voice inspiration, those are my go-to authors!

Good luck with your study!

Elana Johnson said...

Skin Hunger has a first and a third. Kathleen Duey. I really really loved it.

I think Scott Westerfeld's Midnighter's series is in third...but it's paranormal/fantasy, so maybe you don't care about that. His Uglies stuff was third too.

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments is in third...Also paranormal...

Wings by Aprilynne Pike is in third. Urban fantasy. Okay, I suck at suggestions. I'll stop now.

(The Unnameables was third too. It's more MG, though.)

Lori W. said...


Wake is interesting because it's in third person, but feels like first (though it's fantasy). I'm having a hard time thinking of YAs told in 3rd person.

Mary's suggestions are spot-on to me. Here are some other books I enjoyed:

Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
Clay by David Almond
Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Casey Something said...

Mary! I totally forgot Katherines was in third. I have that one my first person list because I remember loving the voice and assumed it was first. Ha! Perfect!

I've been wanting to read more stuff by MJ. I've only read Suite Scarlett. So, good to know which of hers are in third.

I already have Disreputable on my 3rd list, too. Thanks! And... I'll check out Saffy's Angel.

Thank you!

Casey Something said...

Elana - LOL. See, you're having the same problem. All fantasy or fantasyeque! I'm really thinking about using Uglies though, since it's more like soft sci-fi. The voice is fantastic!

Casey Something said...

Hi Lori! I've been giving Wake a lot of consideration because I felt the same way - it read more like first than third! But, it is fantasy, like so many others, so I have a lot there to choose from.

I haven't read or considered any of the others you mentioned. I'm going to go check them out on amazon right now!

Thank you!

Anna Staniszewski said...

One book that screams voice is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Feed by MT Anderson is another one. I believe they're both in first person, though.

As for 3rd person YA, it's hard to come up with titles that haven't already been mentioned. Often 3rd person narration fades into the background. If I think of any, I'll chime back in. Good luck!

Heather Kelly said...

Wendy Mass writes in 3rd person, I think. Some of her stuff is middle grade, but some is YA. Wow--now that I think about it, maybe her stuff is first person. I am no help at all... That's going to bug me.

Casey Something said...

Thanks Anna! Both those books are on my to-read pile. I'll be bumping them up and considering them for the study now that I know they scream voice!

Casey Something said...

Heather, I'll figure out which her YA books are and then google their point of view. Usually, it's pretty easy to find out thanks to reviews. Thank you for the suggestion!

Joanna Ruth Meyer said...

The Winter Prince, by Elizabeth E. Wein is historical fiction written in a unique combo of first and second person. Some really gorgeous prose and a really different-in-a-good-way voice.

Casey Something said...

Good one, Joanna! I haven't read The Winter Prince and I only have one other historical, I think.

Thank you!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Dang. I went to my shelves and found almost everything is first person. I never even realized it. Mostly I read fantasy and I was going to suggest these three non-fantasies but they are in first: Hattie Big Sky (Kirby Larson), A Northern Light (Jennifer Donnelly) and Stargirl (Jerry Spinelli)

Casey Something said...

Thanks, Tricia! I'm still open to first-person suggestions, so thank you! I've been wanting to read Spinelli. Hm...

So many choices!

Artemis Grey said...

I've been on a real tear reading first person recently, which I hadn't really thought about until now.

Girl in the Arena is a great, different first-person book and not a fantasy

Both Fire and Graceling were great third-person stories, although that pesky fantasy is back with them :)

If I Stay is also a good first-person book, and also not fantasy.

I don't think I've actually ever read a second-person book...

Phil said...

Look at the Gossip Girl books. They're all written in 3rd person -and they're all enjoyable in a guilty pleasure kinda way :)

Unknown said...

You must check out "After" by Amy Efaw. Fabulous contemporary, gritty YA novel written in third person. Amazing voice. Best I've seen in a long time.

Paul Greci said...

A newer page turning 3rd person: Home Boyz by Alan Sitomer.

An older 3rd person POV book: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

A mix of first and 3rd person: All in by Pete Hautman. five star voya review.

Another 3rd person: Pinned by Alfred C. Martino

Two more: Touching Spirit Bear and Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikealsen.

A mix of 1st and 3rd person POV--Angry Management by Chris Crutcher.

Unknown said...

Has anyone suggested Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy? It's fantasy (but not high fantasy) and has three different voices in a combo of first and third...the book itself is really a study of voice.

Suzie F. said...

Do you have Laurie Halse Anderson's, Speak and Wintergirls? Both first.

Another I loved was Shug by Jenny Han. I don't own the book, however, and am not sure if it's written in first or third.

Oh, and I just started Dear Aubrey, by Suzanne LaFleur - also first.

Lisa Nowak said...

Ellen Emerson White writes in 3rd person with a great voice. White House Autumn, The President's Daughter, Long Live the Queen, and Long May She Reign. All books about a girl whose mother runs for President and wins. The last one's a little long-winded, but they're good books.

Rebecca Gomez said...

Just finished reading The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt. Amazing voice, though it may be considered middle grade rather than YA. Not sure.

Neal Shusterman's UNWIND is a great one!

Heather Zundel said...

Both Holes and The Westing Game are good third person non-fantasy stories.

I think The Hunger Games has a great voice (esp. for being in first person, present tense). Howl's Moving Castle, The Sea of Trolls, and The Abhorsen Trilogy all have excellent "voices" in them, though they are all fantasy. Hope that helps!

Casey Something said...

A. Grey, Phil, Angelina, Paul, Beth, Suzie, Lisa, Rebecca, and Heather - THANK YOU.

You've named a few I've already decided to use (Wintergirls, Hunger Games) but there are bunch more here I'm not familiar with. I'll be looking into all these titles.

It's going to be so hard choosing! But, even if I don't use them for my study, I'll be adding a lot of these to my to-be-read pile. Yay!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I second the suggestion for Neil Schusterman's Unwind. It's speculative fiction and, if I remember correctly, told in 3rd POV.

Also, I think Carrie Ryan does a great job of voice with The Forest of Hands and Teeth - a 1st POV of life after the zombie apocalypse.

Casey Something said...

Thanks B.E. Sanderson! I think you've convinced me to add UNWIND. I'm really interested in reading it but hadn't committed to using it for my study yet.

This is going to be such an awesome study. So excited!

Anonymous said...

I am currently reading The Book Theif by Markus Zusak. VERY interesting voice, a mixture of first and third person...with just one main narrator.

It is, however, a very "old" young adult novel--9th grade and up is where it lies, I believe.

An amazing read, regardless, though. :)

Suzie F. said...

I just wanted to mention that I'm about halfway through one of the books I recommended to you. Dear, Aubrey is definitely a MG book, so it may not be what you're looking for for your study. However, I would definitely recommend it for pleasure reading. The MC has a genuine 11 year old voice and the story really tugs at the ol' heartstrings.

Suzie F. said...

Sorry, Casey. It's me again. I must have had a brain freeze.
LaFleur's book is titled
Love, Aubrey not Dear, Aubrey. Sorry about that.

annalisa said...

Ann Dee Ellis is a great young-adult author. You may want to check out "This is What I Did" by her, but if you're looking for girl voices try "Everything is Fine." They're more middle-grade, but great writing. Also, if you're interested in Mark Zusak, I'd try "Getting the Girl" or Barry Lyga's "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl" which are both wonderfully awkward teenage boy. I tried to look at your goodreads page to see what you've read, but your profile is private. Good luck!