It may surprise many of you (OK, maybe not!) but I didn't always read teen fiction. In fact, there was a day not too long ago when I worked into the Books section of WHSmith and didn't have a clue about the YA section. A customer came in looking for the latest Georgia Nicolson book and there I was looking up 'Nicolson, Georgia' on our computers. Thankfully for that teenage girl, a colleague came along and rescued me (after also laughing at me!), but I was pretty useless for a long time about children's books and teen books.
The thing is, I can pinpoint exactly the books that hooked me into the fabulousness of YA fiction. And that's what I'd like to talk about today, if you don't mind.
Sabriel by Garth Nix - It must have been coming up to Christmas one year where I was still working at WHSmith. There were quite a few hardback books being stocked and I was preparing one of the end displays for a new promotion. A really cool looking white hardback book caught my eye. 'Ooh' I thought. I'd never really been one for fantasy before. In fact, at the time, I was probably a little snobby about books. But something about Sabriel intrigued me. I had to know what it would be like. So I bought it, on the strength of the cover. And I was completely swept away into the characters, especially Sabriel, this strong and independent young girl and I was swept away into this new fantasy world. I thought the concept of necromancy and the bells were all so fascinating. I loved the Mogget and just everything about the book. When the next books in the series were published I snapped those books up. And beyong that, my eyes had been opened to YA fantasy. I wanted more.
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman - By something of a coincidence, I picked up Northern Lights around the same sort of time as I was discovering Sabriel by Garth Nix. In my head, I think I will always pair the two together so when I think of Sabriel, I'll think of Lyra at the same time and vice versa. It was the absolute perfect timing for me to find Northern Lights. I was in the exact right mood for an exciting and fast-paced fantasy series, especially one that involved another strong and feisty girl character in the form of Lyra Silvertongue. There's just so much to love with the His Dark Materials series - from the fantasy version of Oxford to daemons and witches and fighting polar bears. I had been mostly reading serious (and uptight) literary fiction at the time, so reading a series of books that is so entertaining and adventurous and FUN had a huge impact on me. I compulsively read the rest of the books in the His Dark Materials series and went on to Sally Lockhart and then anything else I could get my hands on...
And really, why would I want to go back to serious (and at times, boring) literary adult fiction? When YA can contain so many absolute gems like Sabriel and Northern Lights?
I must know. What was the book or books that had absolutely HOOKED you into reading YA fiction?