Here at Bookish, we love awards season. We love the Oscars, we get excited about the Grammys, but one stands apart from the rest in our hearts: the Children’s Choice Book Awards. Here, five finalists from two of the biggest categories (Teen Book of the Year and Teen Choice Debut Author) chime in on the YA books that changed their lives.
Teen Book of the Year Finalists
“This series first captured my attention with one of the most epic premises I’d ever heard: Teenage girls are trained in a convent to become assassins who kill in the name of the God of Death. Sign me up! And then, from page one, Robin LaFevers blew past every one of my expectations, creating a world full of fascinating historical details, intense political intrigue, dark magic, and—oh!—the romances! This is one of those rare trilogies in which every book is stronger and more captivating than the last, and the stories of the three main characters continue to resonate with me years after reading them.” —Marissa Meyer, Winter
“The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg is, in my opinion, a perfect book. It is ambitious, incredibly moving, deeply complex. The View from Saturday does what my favorite kind of story does—it takes you by the hand through the dark and suddenly, everything is illuminated. It’s four small stories that come together to be far greater than the sum of their parts. When I read this book, I knew for sure this is what I wanted to do—write for young people. And be like E.L. Konigsburg! If only!” —Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You
“One of my earliest favorites was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It was familiar yet wholly original, a twist on ‘Cinderella’ that felt real and magical and exciting. Harry Potter grew up with me and The Lord of the Rings never let me go, but Ella of Frell pulled me in first. She’ll always have a corner of my heart.” —Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen
Teen Choice Debut Author Finalists
“Far and away my favorite book series for teens is the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. I see them as a really necessary corrective to the simplistic morality of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. For those who haven’t read the trilogy (or who experienced the terrible shame that was the movie adaptation of The Golden Compass), the trilogy roughly tracks the attempt to overthrow the kingdom of heaven so as to ensure the continued existence of sin. This goal is eventually accomplished when the protagonists, Will and Lyra (who are 12 and 13 years old respectively) become ‘intimate’ in a kind of allegorical recreation of the Garden of Eden. The boldness of this choice (and the absolute beauty of it in terms of the architecture of the series) is incredibly inspiring to me, as is the unapologetic secularism of the novels.” —Tommy Wallach, We All Looked Up
“When I first read Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky, it brought me back to the sheer pleasure of discovering a beloved book as a child—what it’s like for characters to seem like real people, to feel like you’ve been transported to an entirely different world. Lee’s gritty, beautiful, and vibrant 1800s Oregon Trail backdrop is immersive, and the warmth and humor in the writing are like coming home. It’s a story that reminded me what a joy and a gift a book can be.” —Kelly Loy Gilbert, Conviction