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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Favorite Young Adult Mysteries

Posted by Megan J.
Want an easy read, but don’t want to sacrifice exciting plots and interesting themes? YA books may be right for you! And don’t worry—no librarian is going to judge you for being a not-so-young adult checking out a YA book. In fact, we may start talking about our own favorite YA picks, such as the ones below:

Haddon’s book can technically be considered a mystery, since the plot revolves the protagonist’s investigation into what happened to his neighbor’s dog. However, the most important questions the book raises deal more with empathy and family than intrigue and murder. The story is told by protagonist Christopher, a 15-year-old boy living in England who falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. While Christopher learns about his neighbors and his own family’s past, readers learn about Christopher’s unique outlook and his frustrations in interacting with other people. Christopher’s viewpoint is certainly different and readers may initially feel exasperated with his frequent confusion in social situations, but as the story grows, it gets easier to relate with Christopher’s struggles. Our social culture is anything but simple, and everyone can understand the feeling of uncertainty when trying to navigate an unfamiliar world.  Thoughtful, ultra-logical, and often funny, Christopher’s voice will stick with you long after his story ends.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Probably best known in the internet-world for her hilarious Twitter feed, Maureen Johnson is also a celebrated YA author.  Johnson’s Shades of London series begins with protagonist Rory Deveaux’s introduction to boarding school life in London, England, but the same day she arrives, a brutal murder occurs near her school, followed by a series of murders mimicking the style of Jack the Ripper. As “Rippermania” takes hold in London, Rory begins to uncover the city’s secrets and discovers that the killer may be even stranger than everyone believes. Among the supernatural aspects of the book is a gripping mystery that scares and surprises readers, while at the same time showing off the city of London (and the mountain of research Johnson did on the city while writing).  The Name of the Star is an enticing start to Johnson’s Shade of London series, and is sure to whet reader’s appetites for the next three books in the series, the latest of which was published in February of this year.

Another mystery novel that delves into the supernatural, Riggs’ first fiction book was inspired by his hobby of collecting vintage photographs from garage sales. The use of these old photos in his novel helps create the mysterious and slightly creepy atmosphere in his story. The novel follows Jacob Portman as he attempts to find the truth behind his grandfather’s tales of growing up in an orphanage in England and the “peculiar” children that lived with him. As you may have guessed, he learns much more than he bargained for. While it is often the unique use of vintage photos that draw reader’s interest, Riggs’ story itself is thrilling and satisfyingly spooky enough to keep it. For those who come away craving more “peculiarity,” Riggs’ sequel Hollow City was released last year.

By now, most people have read John Green’s latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, but before he wrote about the complexities of living with disease, Green was already using smarter-than-your-average-teenage characters to discuss issues that transcend the “teen” sphere. In this Edgar award winning book, protagonist Quentin (or “Q”) harbors a crush for his neighbor Margo, a so-called legend at his school for the multiple pranks and adventures she has organized. Q believes that Margo had forgotten he existed until the night she coerces him into being her getaway driver during her night of revenge. After the ensuing high jinks, Q returns to school the next morning thinking that his relationship with Margo has changed, only to find that Margo has disappeared. Using the clues she leaves behind, Q begins to search for Margo, questioning all the while whether Margo is as “legendary” as she appears. Using references to Walt Whitman and a dash of cartography, Green’s novel questions whether our understanding of others is as complex as we believe. Make sure you check out the novel in time for the film adaption, which hits theaters July 24!

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