I’ve noticed a trend. I tend to read books with female leads/narrators. This is probably because I’m a girl, and I like seeing strong ladies kicking ass. It makes me feel empowered. But when I asked my best friend (a guy) about the books he reads, he said that typically if it’s YA, he’s reading about a girl. I then looked at the demographics for YA books and the protagonists are typically female. Sometimes, they’ll split perspective with a guy but the primary voice is female. This is probably because YA is marketed to girls. Boys typically will move past the YA section and find their heroes in “adult fiction.” That being said, YA books with solely male protagonists exist, so I wanted to make a list of the ones I’ve read and also give you my thoughts on them.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This is a story about a teenage boy named Clay Jensen who receives a package from a dead girl. The package contains tapes where she goes over the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. The reasons are tied to people and Clay is one of them. I really enjoyed this book. I found it really interesting and well-written. This book could fall under having a split perspective, but I didn’t really read it that way. I felt like the reader is Clay. We’re listening to these tapes with him and we’re responding to the tapes through him. We’re walking around town with Clay, and we go where he goes. It’s obviously not a light read because it does deal with depression and suicide. I still highly recommend it to everyone.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Another heavy read. Perks is about a teenage boy named Charlie who is writing letters to an anonymous “friend” about his freshman year of high school. Charlie is a quiet and observant kid. He becomes friends with a group of seniors who he hangs out with all the time, and they try to bring him out of his shell to make him more adventurous. Charlie has issues with anxiety, depression, and PTSD(?) which go back to him being molested by his favorite aunt, which he feels died because of him. He repressed the memory, and he doesn’t realize the source of his problems until the end of the book when he is getting intimate with a girl he’s convinced he loves and the memory comes back to him. This is a very heavy read, but I think it’s really important for people to read this book. It’s one of my favorite stand-alone books.
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Beastly is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it’s told from the Beast’s perspective. We follow Kyle Kingsbury a spoiled, handsome, and shallow high school senior who is cursed to become a beast. (We all recognized this story). He has to get someone to fall in love with his heart or he’ll remain a beast forever. He holds a girl hostage (I know that’s not the narrative, but I’m not wrong) and he tries to get her to fall in love with him. She hates him at first, then he becomes less of a dick, and she falls in love with him. This is a lighter read than the first two books. It’s a bit dark in certain places due to the nature of the story, but for the most part, it’s a decent fairy tale retelling. I actually reviewed this book in the early days of my blog, so if you want to read more of my thoughts on this book, I encourage you to check it out.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
This is the second book in the If I Stay duology. This book follows Mia’s boyfriend Adam Wilde a few years after the events of If I Stay. Adam’s band has gained international fame, and he’s become known for being a bit of a diva. He has issues with anxiety and panic attacks. He runs into Mia in New York and they spend a night together figuring out where they went wrong. I can’t say that I enjoyed this book as much as the first one, but as a duology, I really enjoy this story.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
This is the story of Miles “Pudge” Halter. He transfers to a boarding school because he needs a change. He wants to start his adventure. At the school, he meets a girl named Alaska, who he falls in love with. Alaska is a wild and free spirit. She’s not into Pudge that way, but she wants to help him achieve his goal of adventure. Alaska ends up dying in a drunk driving accident (it’s unclear if she crashed on purpose), and leaves Pudge behind after he finally got to kiss her. This is hands down my favorite John Green book. I really wish this had become a movie instead of Paper Towns. I feel like this is the best example of John’s writing ability. His other books are good, but I feel like Looking for Alaska really showcases what makes John Green books shine. This is honestly the John Green book I’d recommend to people.
Paper Towns by John Green
Paper Towns is about Quentin “Q” Jacobson, a geeky, safe teenage boy who’s madly in love with his neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman. I have gone over the plot of this book multiple times and I reviewed the movie so I won’t keep harping on about it. I thought this book was okay. It lacked the spark that’s in Looking for Alaska and even The Fault in Our Stars. John is a fantastic writer so this book is not bad by any means. I just didn’t love it.
Life and Death by Stephanie Meyer
I’m cheating here. I know. But it technically is a YA book with a male lead. For those of you who don’t know, Life and Death is gender-bent Twilight. This is the story of Beau Swan moving in with his father to Forks, Washington, where he meets Edythe Cullen. We all know how the story goes. I won’t spoil the plot twist in this story (because she did change the story). I know Twilight wasn’t the best story; my friends and I constantly complain about how Alice and Jasper would have been much more interesting main characters. Hell, we even would have loved Carlisle’s story or a story of Edward’s time away from Carlisle where he hunted humans. That being said, this is a book with a male lead, and the editing made it better than the original. I enjoyed reading it. I’m not going to recommend it because I know Twilight is something dirty that most people won’t touch with a 30 foot pole. But I am not ashamed to say that I really liked this book.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
You all knew this was coming. This is possibly the most popular book with a male lead in our generation. Do I even have to go over the plot or how much I love this series? Read it. Just read it and watch the movies and immerse yourself in the magic of the world Jo has created.