May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Cover of "The Hunger Games"
Cover of The Hunger Games

I have never been a fan of fiction/fantasy literature. I read one “Harry Potter” book and about a chapter of the first “Twilight” book before I got bored and turned back to my standard reading fare, which consists of mostly nonfiction from the likes of Jon Krakeurer and Chuck Klosterman. A couple of days ago, I saw the trailer for “The Hunger Games” movie coming out in March, and it piqued my interest enough that I decided to give the first book a go. Forty-eight hours later, I am done and can’t wait to start the sequel; it is one of the most engrossing books I have ever read.

The story revolves around a post-apocalyptic United States with twelve different “districts” that are all ruled by an oppressive government that resides in the “Captiol.” Once a year, two “tributes” — a teenage male and female — are sent to fight in the annual Hunger Games, which is an all-out fight to the death among the 24 tributes; the games do not end until 23 of them are dead.

“The Hunger Games” is just the latest in the young adult (YA) genre literature to gain traction with a wider audience. The YA genre is consistently an area of the publishing world where sales continue to be strong. In 2009, adult hardcover sales were down 17.8%, whereas children’s/YA hardcover sales were up 30.7%. The college market likely had a lot to do with this (Carpenter, 2010).

There are several reasons the YA genre has become so popular, including: easy-to-understand plots, fast-paced character development and nostalgia for one’s own youth. The most common theme in YA literature is the classic coming-of-age story, even if vampires, wizards and fights to the death are mixed in.

The following is a list of the top ten best YA books for those of us who may be long past that YA stage. If you are in youth marketing, burying your nose in one of these books this winter should be part of your homework assignment.

Carpenter, Susan. “Young adult lit comes of age.” The Los Angeles Times 8 March 2010

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