Thursday, January 19, 2017

#Books for Boys~ Teen Version Upper #YA #amreading

My younger son, attempting
to read while standing up
on the crowded tube in
London (the A Song of Ice
and Fire series)
Hands down, my absolute favorite pastime is reading...even more so than writing.  I've literally never been bored in my life, thanks to my love of reading, and things like waits in airports and doctors' offices make me happy, because it's an excuse to read.  I've done my best to instill my love of reading in my kids, but it hasn't always been easy.  It requires a bit of work on my part, in terms of searching out the type of books that capture their attention fast, and that can actually compete with all the technology available to kids today.  But I'm up for the challenge!

My first Books for Boys post (written in 2014, when my boys were 12 and 15), was so popular, in terms of hits, that I followed it with More Books for Boys a few months later.  Now, my kids are 15 and 18 (how did that happen?), so I thought I'd write about a few other series that have been favorites of my sons in the past few years.  Both boys are very picky, one because he's a reluctant reader, and the other because he's such an avid reader, with an author for a mother, that he's able to quickly vocalize things he doesn't like...i.e., he'll tell me there's no hook, the pace is too slow, etc. -- what can I say to that?  Those are all valid complaints, and I can't argue that he's at least picked up some of the topics I teach in my writing classes.  So hopefully these suggestions will work for other teenage boys looking for page-turning entertainment!  Fair warning, though...like me, my boys appreciate some pulse-pounding, life-or-death action, as well as some scary scenes that up the stakes for the characters.  Younger teens or those who don't like that sort of thing might want to avoid the scarier titles.

The Loners (Book 1 of The Quarantine series) by Lex Thomas: a YA dystopian thriller series described as "Lord of the Flies in a 21st century high school setting".  When a high school devolves into chaos following a military quarantine, survival becomes a desperate challenge.  With no adults left inside to fill the vacuum of authority, violent gangs form as social cliques band together to maintain strength in numbers.  But protagonist David Thorpe and his younger brother, Will, have been always been loners...and now, it's just the two of them against the rest of the students.

My kids could NOT put these books down, even my older reluctant reader.  In fact, when I packed the second in the series for him for our trip to London, he finished it in a few days and I had to download the next one and share my Kindle!  Comparisons have been made to popular YA novels The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Gone, so any fans of those books might want to give this series a try!  The books are: The Loners, The Saints, The Burnouts, and the latest release, The Giant.

These covers alone are super creepy!

Lockdown (Book 1 of Escape from Furnace series) by Alexander Gordon Smith: another survival-type thriller, this time set in a hellish prison for teen offenders called Furnace.  There are many terrors lurking in the prison, and when the protagonist Alex realizes justice will not help save him from this nightmare, he devises an escape plan--but the secrets he learns about the Furnace soon put him in even more danger.  Fast-paced action and enough scares to keep readers engaged.  Books in the series include Lockdown, Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitives, and Execution.  

There have been a few different covers
for these amazing books


A Game of Thrones (Book 1 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin: *not* a YA series, but the inspiration for the very popular HBO show featuring the dark high fantasy series filled with amazing characters, dramatic plot twists, epic battles, and unrelenting action in the quest not just for power and control, but for human survival as well.  

As I mentioned, this is not a YA series, and there is heavy subject matter and scenes with sex and violence.  Unfortunately, actual history is filled with similar incidents, so we use these topics as a springboard for conversation (for example, the main plot is loosely based on The Wars of the Roses in England). So, yes, I let my teens watch the show, which certainly employs some racy scenes.  But there are only a few things my two teen boys want to do with me, and watching the show based on books I raved about is one of them.  The show veered away from the books in a number of very significant ways, so I mentioned they might want to read the novels to not only see what happens in the books, but to discover plot points, backstories, and characters that never made it into the show.  This worked on my younger son, and he tore through all five huge novels, and now we both anxiously await the sixth.  The books are: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.  These books were also part of my annual "Favorites Books" post for 2012.

The Gunslinger (Book 1 in The Dark Tower series) by Stephen King: Another epic high fantasy series with a memorable cast of characters on a quest to find The Dark Tower, complete with touches of the spine-tingling horror King is known for.  The journey through this world, which has "moved on", takes readers through bleak landscapes, deserted cities, desolate beaches, and magical spots that connect to our own world.  While my kids haven't read these yet, almost everyone I know who has liked Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has also enjoyed The Dark Tower.  It's now being made into a movie, so I've purchased the first book to get them started before it comes out.

So there you have it, what my teens have been reading this past year.  Feel free to add your own suggestions in comments below!
  




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