Friday, September 16, 2011

First YA book that HOOKED me

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?


  1. Harry Potter I suppose is where I started but from there on it was Northern Lights. I love that book

  2. I haven't read either of these! I have the Northern Lights trilogy, but it's really confusing, I think! After reading like, one chapter I stopped! That was a good few years ago though so I think I'll give it another go soon! Darren Shan and Harry Potter got me into YA!

  3. I haven't read either of these, but Sabriel keeps on catching my eye in bookstores. I think I first got into YA by reading the Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, if you haven't read tham you really should!

  4. I think the Jessica Darling series was the first YA books that hooked me into reading YA.

  5. You know I'm counting down till the abhorsen prequels are out, I'm too excited for words

  6. Northern Lights was one of the first books to get me hooked on YA too. I loved the His Dark Materials trilogy! I really loved Sabriel too, but I read that one not long ago.

  7. Hmm.. I can't recall when I started reading YA.. The year I worked in a 4th grade classroom was when I started reading younger books.. I was surronded by kid books, but I loved them all! (I'm pretty sure I read every book on all the shelves..)From there I guess I just moved onto the YA books..

  8. I never really stopped reading YA - I started when I was an actual teen, had a brief gap, but started up again when I realised that I write YA fiction myself.

  9. Kirsty - I think it was the other way around for me. I read Northern Lights first and that's what got me into children's fantasy. Harry Potter seemed like the next logical step.

    Cliona - Oh you should! I remember Northern Lights being a little bit confusing at the start, but it makes sense after awhile. I'd say definitely give it another chance. I read some Darren Shan awhile back, I need to read more. Also, Cathy Hopkins!

    Zoe - Oh I adore the Inkheart trilogy! Really great stuff :)

    Linda - I've heard such good things about the Jessica Darling books, I just wish they were available here/weren't so expensive on amazon.

    Shadowfalcon - You and me both!!

    Liz - They are amazing books and series, both of them :)

    Becca - That's pretty cool! I like that :)

    Julianne - How fantastic :) I know I definitely read a lot of what would be called YA now but wasn't then when I was a teenager. But I jumped pretty quickly from there into adult fiction.

  10. Brilliant post as ever. I find your two books really interesting choices, I adore the His Dark Materials series but whilst I've enjoyed other books by Garth Nix I really disliked Sabriel. I know there's a lot of love in the blogging world for it, I guess on this I'm in a real minority.

    I don't think I've ever stopped reading YA since I started as a pre-teen, but for a number of years it made up a much smaller proportion of what I read.

  11. Jenni - Really? You didn't like Sabriel? I'm really curious now to know what about that you didn't like!

    As far as YA reading habits, I guess it's mostly the same for me, there are definitely other books I read that would be considered YA, but I guess I really meant my full conversion back into reading nothing BUT YA, which is how it is currently!


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