Beautiful Writing for the End of the World

So, recently Slate published an article about YA literature. I suspect it was supposed to be funny, but either my funny bone is broken or the sarcasm sinew is pulled. One bit that really stood out to me was this:
But readers in Y.A. don't care about rumination. They don't want you to pore over your sentences trying to find the perfect turn of phrase...
Because, well...the thing is, I do pore over sentences. I do ruminate--and I'd like it if my works make other readers--YA or not--ruminate.

And I suspect many--I hope most--YA authors feel the same way. So, in honor of that, here's my list of YA books that are, quite simply, beautifully written. Since this is for the League, I'm sticking with SFF, but if you've got any other ideas of beautifully written YA (very different, please note, from beautiful YA), please leave your thoughts in the comments!

First up: THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan. This was the first book where I realized that YA literature was beautiful. I suppose this means I should forgive the authors of the Slate article--after all, maybe they've just not read this book yet.

Because here's the thing: THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is about zombies and death and unrequited (?) love and it's terribly terribly dirty, but--it's beautiful. Stunningly beautifully written.

Speaking of dirty...welcome to the slag heap. THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff is, well...disgusting. There's blood. And that's the least disgusting bit. Brenna describes the settings in such creepy detail that that alone would keep me up at night--but it's the characters who are truly twisted--inside and out.

But here's the thing--with the exception of a handful of characters and scenes, everything in this book is creeptastically horrifying--and absolutely gorgeously written.

MISTWOOD by Leah Cypess was a recent read for me, although it's been out a year. This is a fantasy, but don't be deceived by the pretty cover--it's a very deep novel that makes you question things like right and wrong, love and being worthy of love, loyalty, and nature.

And it's just beautiful. Not just with the main character's inherent beauty, but beautiful on a word level. The turns of phrases are shockingly brilliant.

So, what about you: what are some truly beautifully written YA books that you can recommend for us?

9 comments:

Diva Schuyler said...

I pore over every sentence I read, even my cereal box ingredients, no joke...I'm a READER, Slate, it's what we do, no matter what age range the book is targeted for!

Some YA reads I thought were beautifully written? Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking, Moira Young's Blood Red Road, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and Plague by Michael Grant. Also, I follow all the League books, and love love love them!

What is it with people ragging on YA lately? I'm an adult who reads these books, and find they challenge me just as much, sometimes more, than the adult-age books out there. Is anyone writing about YA books actually READING them? Or has it become popular sport to pick on young adult books?

Myrna Foster said...

Anything by Shannon Hale, Laini Taylor, or Stephanie Perkins - they have bits in their stories that are so shiny they hurt.

Julia Karr said...

I personally think Maggie Stievater writes some of the most poetically beautiful prose ever!
And... Lisa Schroeder.

Miranda said...

I love NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh. It is truly beautiful and poetic and origional.

Krispy said...

Totally agree with you on The Replacement, and I'd add that Delirium by Lauren Oliver has these beautiful, quotable lines.

Stephsco said...

That Slate article was strange. I re-read to see if it was me whose brain was scattered or if the article didn't make sense. I don't think it was me.

We'll probably see more books dumped into YA b/c publishers want some authors to have a marketable book in YA as well as their own market. Outlining YA as some sort of easy market to cash in will probably flood the shelves with some less than stellar books. I think we all know there is great writing all over YA, whether it's contemporary or fantasy. Good writing is good writing. I don't think there is ever a short-cut to cheap and easy success. Especially with teens who can smell a rat when the see one. I think the writers who love the genre will stand out in the end.

Jemi Fraser said...

YA readers and discerning and they DO appreciate how hard authors work to choose the best phrase & word. There are SO many beautifully written books out there!

Tere Kirkland said...

I know I sweat over every word, every turn of phrase, every syllable, so reading that article really bothered me.

Was it a reaction to the WSJ Gurdon article, to make YA seem more "fun"? Because all it did was make YA authors seem like flightly asshats.

Elana Johnson said...

SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey is beautiful, especially the chapters from Sadima. I also think THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX is clean and crisp and wonderfully written.