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Books to read whether you’re young or not

Devina Heriyanto
Devina Heriyanto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, September 5, 2016  /  03:56 pm
Books to read whether you’re young or not

Young adult books are nowhere near “Infinite Jest”, but they are worth more than people give them credit for. (Shutterstock/-)

Young adult (YA) books often get side-eyed by readers that consider them “not serious”.

In short, YA books are the sodas and junk food of books. Sometimes they are also overhyped, raising the bar on expectations that often go unfulfilled, making the genre a turnoff for most readers. Still, from the genre we enjoy such great pieces as The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

YA books are nowhere near Infinite Jest, but they are worth more than people give them credit for.

The Girls

Author: Emma Cline


A photo posted by @sosos_moods_books_and_more on

Considered the ‘it’ book of summer 2016, The Girls is a simple tale on how Evie Boyd joined a murder cult. Recounted through the eyes of young Evie and reviewed later when she’s older, the story creates an interesting contrast between two perspectives on something that seemed irresistible at the time. With brilliant prose, Emma Cline provides reflections of many teenagers and adults, delivering the mixed feelings of curiosity, regret and longing at the same time.

I Am the Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak


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If the highly appraised The Book Thief, set in Nazi-Germany, is too heart-breaking for you, this book might be more relatable for an average 19-year old. Here comes Ed, an ordinary taxi driver, who suddenly faces a mysterious task after preventing a bank robbery. Although the story might be somewhat cliché for more adult readers, Zusak’s beautiful prose is very engaging, making the book a page-turner.

(Read also: Six books you can actually finish)

The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller 

This book is an excellent introduction to classic literature for younger readers and a refreshing take on Iliad for more experienced ones. Miller describes a much deeper relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, something left out in the 2004 movie adaptation "Troy". In fact, the story centers on Patroclus, portrayed as a mere plot device in the movie. Criticism on the ‘fast food’ nature of the book aside, The Song of Achilles opens the door to more serious Greek classics.

A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

After the end of the Harry Potter series, many seek another universe as rich as that built by Rowling. V. E. Schwab takes her time to establish magical worlds in A Darker Shade of Magic, not rushing into the plot, but cleverly introducing the characters and making the reader care about each one of them. The hidden magical universe in the Potterverse is paralleled by the existence of multiple Londons, each with a varying degree of magic. All in all, this book presents a more mature, engaging and more menacing take on a magical universe.

All The Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr


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With more than 500 pages and a Pulitzer award, All The Light We Cannot See might not seem to fit the category. Still, the book follows the story of two teenagers raised in different countries, whose worlds collide in World War II. The compelling story, combined with masterful prose, has not only earned the book praise from critics but has also won the hearts of casual readers.

The Rest of Us Just Lives Here

Author: by Patrick Ness


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The book mocks the overused ‘chosen one’ trope in the YA genre. You know the trope: where everything important happens around the main characters, when matters of life and death – even the fate of the world – lies in the hands of those characters, while the rest are oblivious and do not matter. In this book, Ness shows the not uninteresting life of ‘the rest’, whose lives and trivial problems also matter – at least to them. (kes)

We hope you love our recommendations. For your information, may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

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