Today I was trolling NPR for some non-fiction reading recommendations and came across their number one story, the Top 100 Best Ever Young Adult Novels. This surprised me because while I am aware of the fact that NPR reviews books other than non-fiction, I equate N, P and R, with News, Politics and Recommendations (oh, and National Public Radio). I love them for their reviews of political books, biographies, non-fiction selections and even literary bestsellers. But teen novels? A top 100 list? It doesn’t seem like an ideal candidate for a Fresh Air segment. Nonetheless, I was intrigued and clicked the link. Big mistake.
Naturally,the Harry Potter series topped the list, which is fine. It is followed by the Hunger Games series (which I have not read, nor will I, and that is an entirely different post that I will not delve into here), which is also fine, I suppose. But the two main things that I learned are, by and large, not fine:
- Judy Blume’s Forever ranked 46th, which I think is worthy of a much higher ranking. Certainly higher than #10’s The Book Thief, which I put down before I finished the second chapter, and even that was a struggle.
- There is a disproportionately large number of vampire books, which I’m sure is not a testament to the fact that vampire books are full of original story lines and talented writers, but rather that they are trendy. Which means that what is “trendy” monopolized perfectly good spots, and that is simply not okay.
So I guess what I really learned from this list is that there is no such thing as a “Top Young Adult Novel” (meaning “teen novel) because nothing I read in high school is even on this list. The books that made the list in 1997 and were the “it” books to read that everyone just had to have had titles that I can’t even remember now. With the exception of Judy Blume’s Forever, of course. Because let’s face it, that’s a book that should remain on the Top 100 list. Forever.