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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Best YA Fiction Marketed to Young Women

In a reflection of the (lack of) value that our society places upon young women in general, the trends and tastes marketed to young women are often under the the greatest amount of scorn. The way young women talk is "not really English." The music young women listen to is "bubble gum nonsense." The movies marketed to them are "teeniebop." The literature marketed is argued to be Mary Sue or emo. Of course, the interests of young men are rarely described with such vitriol and are often folded into nostalgia markets or given more mainstream markets.

Even the criticism that is often leveled against "bad writing" or "clichè tropes" is disproportionately brought down on things young women more typically like. Take the heroine with the choice of two hot guys–how often does a dude with two hot women go unremarked upon? Or heroines with some kind of "chosen one" power? Because that never happens to men in fiction. Even our own "Worst Page-Turner" poll had more than its fair share of titles from that particular niche.

So this month's poll is the best fiction marketed to young women. To avoid a quagmire of gender essentialism the conditions for "marketed" will simply be this: a YA novel where the main protagonist is a woman. (That's the MAIN protagonist: Hermione might be very important, but the series is named Harry Potter.)

The Rules:

You may nominate TWO (2) books. Obviously the fifteen books you love can't all be the best you've ever read. Any nominations you give me beyond your first two will be ignored because I'm a despot. (Though I will count them as "seconds" if someone else nominates the same book.)

As usual, I leave up to you what "best" means. But I do want to stress that if you nominate Divergent it should be because you think Divergent is really good, and I wouldn't mind finding a lot of good fiction in this genre that isn't a bit on the formulaic side.

I'm also going to leave it up to you what "YA" means. You may have to make a case for your suggestion in order to get anyone to go along with giving you a second, but genre policing is a big waste of energy.

You may, and SHOULD, "second" as many of the existing nominations as you wish. Nothing will go on to our poll if it doesn't have a second, and sometimes, in the interest of keeping a poll to one month (like a HALLOWEEN POLL...nudge nudge), instead of running semifinals, I may limit the final poll to every title that got three or more "seconds." SO PLEASE SECOND STUFF YOU WANT TO SEE ON THE POLL!

While I technically take nominations from anywhere, you should make a comment to this post. Comments left on social media where I cross post (like my Facebook page) don't tend to get seconded there because they are so quickly buried beneath ever spewing content.

103 comments:

  1. The Will of the Empress, by Tamora Pierce
    The Sweet Far Thing, by Linnaeus Bray

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    Replies
    1. Seconding The Will of the Empress

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    2. Also seconding The Will of the Empress

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  2. Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett
    A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

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  3. Alanna by Tamora Pierce
    Mairelon the Magician, Patricia Wrede

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  4. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede.
    Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.

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    1. Second Dealing with Dragons

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    2. Third Dealing with Dragons

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    3. Second Pippi Longstocking

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  5. Slayers- by C.J. Hill
    Mistborn- by Branden Sanderson

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  6. I got a thing for Martian Chicks

    Arabella of Mars by David Levine
    Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein

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  7. So two books huh?

    Angel's Blade-Elizabeth M. Azzinaro (not marketed to girls directly but it does have a great female protagonist that has the spirit of a true hero)

    Catching fire-Suzanne Collins

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  8. Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud
    Demon Road series by Derek Landy

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  9. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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    Replies
    1. Seconding Throne of Glass series.

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    2. Thirding Throne of Glass

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  10. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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    1. Second Anne...she's lovely!

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    2. Seconding Anne ... spelled with an "e"!

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    3. There was my first suggestion! Enthusiastically seconding (thirding? fourthing?) Anne!

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  11. (One from me, one from a friend)

    Tamora Pierce - Protector of the Small (I dunno, pick one)
    Robin McKinley - The Blue Sword

    -S

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  12. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
    The Host (Stephanie Meyer)

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  13. The entire Old Kingdom series - Sabriel, Lirael, by Garth Nix. They're fantasy, but kind of fit the YA troupe? Either way, they're fantastic books with excellent female characters.
    Lauren Oliver's Delirium series is fantastic as well, and definitely YA.

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    1. Seconding the Old Kingdom series, it's really good.

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    2. Seconding Old Kingdom *and* Delirium

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  14. The Lunar Chronicles are probably the best YA I have ever read. Clever retelling of classic fairy tales in sci-fi setting - gotta love that! Also, every book of the series has a different, interesting heroine and all of them are likable (which is often not the case in this genre for me.)

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  15. The Harper Hall Trilogy - Anne McCaffrey

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  16. A Wrinkle in Time
    The Mists of Avalon

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  17. Second A Wrinkle in Time...also...

    Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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  18. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
    The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

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    Replies
    1. Second How I Live Now. Also one of the few books turned into movies that I felt did the book justice!

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  19. Anything at all by Tamora Pierce. As a young girl, her writing was the first thing I ever encountered that showed strong women who were being strong for themselves, not just for a man to watch being strong. Her characters had the first, true, adult relationships I had ever seen. She was the first to introduce me to anything outside of my closed off religious upbringing, and for me that was incredibly growing. And, of course, her worlds were well thought out and her magic always intrigued me. She remains one of my biggest inspirations and will forever be my first book suggestion for any young girl.

    Because you want two books, these are book #1 in my two favorite series from her.

    Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
    Terrier, Tamora Pierce

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  20. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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  21. "In the Forests of the Night" by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.
    "Glass Houses" (first of the Morganville Vampire Series) by Rachel Caine.

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  22. Both "Illuminae" and "Gemina" from Illuminae files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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  23. Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld
    Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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  24. "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" by Fannie Flagg,
    Submitted by Christie (his better half)

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  25. The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman
    Second the Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (that one changed my life when I was about 12)

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    1. Second Ruby in the Smoke

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  26. The Seventh, by SD Wasley. Excellent writing. So good in fact that it's easy to forget that it's YA.
    Can't remember anything else, too long ago!

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  27. I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest. Possibly the best YA I've read in half a lifetime. Bonus points for not needing romantic subplots at ALL.

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  29. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle.
    Second Harper Hall trilogy

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    1. Second A Ring of Endless Light

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    2. Second Ring of Endless Light

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  30. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

    Nancy Drew series

    -CM Scott

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  31. MZB was a child abuser and child r*pist. I argue that should disqualify her from any poll wver, but especially one about the class of children she victimized, even of her books were YA, which they aren't and were never market as.

    -CM

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    1. Was the author you commented on removed?

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  32. Goodnight stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli
    Not sure if that's considered YA but it's an AMAZING book definitely marketed to females!
    #2 The fault in our stars by John Green

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  34. Priestess of the White - Trudi Canavan
    Graceling - Kristin Cashore

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  35. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley.

    Kindred, by Octavia Butler. (Or any of her others, really.)

    Snow Queen, by Joan Vinge.

    War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull.

    Jack of Kinrowan, by Charles de Lint.

    Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones.

    The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

    The Prudence novels by Gail Carriger.

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    Replies
    1. Second October Daye and Prudence, though I think the Finishing School series is more YA as well

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  36. Second Prudence novels (but for YA, Etiquette and Espionage is closer)

    Second War for the Oaks, and October Daye, although I'm not sure either of them really count as YA, either.

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  37. The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger (Etiquette & Espionage, etc.)

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  38. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (It does come published as one book, so that counts, right?). Or if we want to just say one of the books, Golden Compass.

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  39. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (really any of her books, but this one in particular!)

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  40. A Ring of Endless Light - Madeline L'Engle

    Jacob Have I Loved - Katharine Patterson

    Runners up - All of the Madeline L'Engle books I've read - especially the entire series featuring Vicky Austin, A House Like a Lotus, Young Unicorns and of course A Wrinkle in Time.

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  41. Second Jacob Have I Loved

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  42. Seconding Lunar Chronicles
    Second Wrinkle in Time

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  43. Since A Wrinkle in Time has already been nominated,
    Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace and
    Borderline by Mishell Baker

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  44. Hmm, I'm surprised no one's mentioned Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series. I guess you could debate whether they're technically Young Adult, but the "Arrows of the Queen" trilogy follows many of the YA genre conventions. If Tamora Pierce is YA, I think Mercedes Lackey is, too. So yeah, my nominations:

    "Arrows of the Queen" trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
    "Flowers in the Attic" by VC Andrews

    OK, I'm gonna defend my second choice, here: "Flowers in the Attic" may not necessarily be the deepest or most well-written book, but there *is* a reason that most women I've met (most *American* women, I should clarify) read the book in their early-to-mid teens, with many of us developing a fascination with it, and often V.C. Andrews novels more generally. Teen girls tend to find the story extremely compelling, and for some reason, it appeals to a wide variety of young women. You could argue that the appeal comes from the sexual situations...but compared to a lot of other novels (YA or otherwise), the sexual stuff takes up a relatively small part of the overall novel, and certainly isn't as explicit as some. Women I've talked to often seem to have an emotional connection to the book(s), look back on them with fondness (if some embarrassment), a sense of camaraderie that sometimes arises, even among strangers, when reminiscing about them -- aspects that aren't shared with many other YA novels, even other popular or sexually explicit/transgressive YA novels.

    Honestly, I think the book itself is more successful functioning as a coming of age story for real, actual human girls, than it is at telling a coming of age story within the pages of the novel. There are generations of girls for whom finding "Flowers in the Attic" is a rite of passage. It's certainly not *universal*, but it's widespread. There's a reason my friends and I snuck copies of the book home with us, and there's a reason Middle School students today continue passing it around...even if I'm not entirely sure what that reason is. But I think the book has both a personal *and* a cultural importance greater than its own (admittedly overwrought, ham-fisted) prose.

    (And also, Young Erin would've pitched a fit if I failed to at least nominate it.)

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  45. I have to nominate a classic: Jane Eyre. Loved it when I was young, and let's represent some of the older stuff!

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    1. Also, I love Holly Black - but I'm not sure which of her books to choose!

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