As someone who was already seriously hooked up on fiction well before 1997, I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. I haven’t actually read almost anything that may be classified as young adult fiction. “The Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mocking Bird” are the closest I ever got to the genre. By the time the Harry Potter mania took the world by storm, I wasn’t attracted to the idea at all. I have never read Tolkien, Frank Herbert, or Terry Pratchett, not to mention the “Twilight” series.
I’m not quite sure why I avoided these names over the years (except for “Twilight”, of course, you wouldn’t catch me dead anywhere near a book about vampires). I guess I was too old for stuff involving too much magic to read Harry Potter. As for the rest, I have never been too attracted to fantasy/Sci-Fi, so it simply didn’t happen.
Last year I thought I should see what the fuss is all about some of the new names in YA fiction, particularly because I got fed up with the cliche that teens fiction is not just for teens anymore. So I read the first volume of the “Hunger Games“, which I found rather interesting in its plot, but badly written. I get it the book is meant to be read by kids/teens, but the language was so simple it was borderline insulting. I managed to finish it, but couldn’t be bothered to read the next two books.
After a while, I decided to give Stephen Chbosky a try, and I’m glad I did. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was surprisingly one of the best coming of age stories I have ever read. I actually think it held its own in front of Salinger and Harper Lee. I particularly enjoyed the epistolary style, as well as the way Chbosky penned his main character, Charlie, as an introverted teenager who thinks and feels beyond his years. The book references in the text are also quite clever, and the music references bring an invisible soundtrack to the novel, creating something you can almost hear while turning the pages. This book convinced me that some of the books that appear on a YA top list are actually worth considering even if you are closer to 30 than to 16.