The Divergent triology is the one I highly recommend. After reading the first one I could not wait for the second to come out. Now I have to wait for the third. That will not be out until next year. Eeep. This is the one with the best heroine and the most interesting plot. Divergent (and the sequel Insurgent) are set in a future where each person lives in one of 5 factions. Each faction values a particular personality trait. When they turn 16 they must decide if they belong in their faction with their parents, or if their true faction is one of the other 4. If they choose another faction they can't go home again. And their new faction may not take them in. The interactions between the 5 factions hold a reader's attention. I found myself wanting to see this made into a movie just to see how the groups would look. Of course, things are not what they appear to be and trouble is on the horizon. Is being loyal to one way of life and one group of people a good thing? Are there bad things about the group you long to join and what happens if that is the case? Why is the city surrounded by a fence? Tris was taught to be selfless and to serve others but feel like she could never be as selfless as the rest of her Abnegation Family. She could be brave like the Dauntless, or honest like the Candor, or peaceful like Amity, or intelligent like the Erudite. But soon it seems that Tris is good at a lot of things, too many. This is what makes her Divergent. She is warned that his makes her dangerous but it takes her a while to understand why. What I like about it is that Tris, the heroine, is smart and strong. She does awful and wonderful things. This is also an excellent way to examine what it means to leave your family behind when you believe you are so much different than they are. These questions and issues are not ones that we stop dealing with when we turn 18 and that makes this a good read for adults. The interactions between the 5 factions hold a reader's attention. And there's some good action in this book.
The Matched Trilogy is my number two pick. A perfect society has found the algorithms to make perfect love matches. They have also cured disease and all people die peacefully at the age of 80. Teenagers are matched with their perfect mates at an elaborate ceremony when they turn 17. But citizens are also forbidden to read or write and the government has selected a limited number of songs, poems, and paintings that they are allowed to view. At the matching ceremony young people dress in the best clothes they will ever wear and see their future husbands and wives on the screen. They are given microchips containing information about the person they will marry. But Cassia is matched with her best friend and neighbor, a rare circumstance. This is great news until she goes to view the data on him and sees someone else's face. How can she be matched with two people? The math is perfect. Like everything else. Complicating the matter is that the other face belongs to a boy she also knows, a mysterious outsider adopted by his aunt and uncle. As the book goes on Cassia must deal with her feelings for both of them. What makes this a good read for adults is that it is never black and white and allows for love to be a tricky thing without being simply about liking two dudes at the same time, much like The Hunger Games. It becomes a choice between a comfortable best friend and a boy who teaches her to do forbidden things. And it gets even more interesting in Crossed, the second book. There is also the relationship between Cassia and her dying grandfather. He tells her about forbidden things and gives her an illegal gift that changes the way she sees the world. This is another story about learning when and how to question authority and follow your heart.
I'm going to be honest, this is my least favorite of all of the novels I read. In this story love is a disease and the cure is given to teenagers when they reach 18. But sometimes (gasp!) they catch the disease before getting the cure. The book's protagonist, Lena, believes in the cure and fears the disease like most people. She doesn't know her parents and is being raised by her aunt. Her mother had the disease and this haunts Lena. Then she meets a boy who shows her not everything is as it seems. Maybe love is a good thing. It is a great idea and started strong, but as an adult reader I found too much hinged on describing first love. Too much time is spent on the two of them hiding together and breaking curfew while descriptions of the future world are left out. It was interesting to describe the physical symptoms of love as disease and madness, as it can feel that way. It has a little Romeo and Juliet in it since the whole world seems to be against the lovers. Still, I found it poorly written and hard to get get swept up in. Lena is just a less interesting a less developed character than I was hoping for. The author does not get into much detail about the big bad government and the Wilds outside of the fenced in world in the first book, even though the boy Lena meets knows a lot about it. I kept reading just to know what happened, not because I loved the book. I do think you should try it for yourself if you like a dramatic romance, the end of the first book is quite the cliffhanger. That is why I got Pandemonium, the second book. But I only read about 10 pages before giving it up.
I will keep reading and let you know which ones pass the "Will an Adult Like This" test. And please let me know if you have any good suggestions to pass on. Don't forget to sign up for summer reading and to review your books. We'd all love to know which YA you think works for adults and what you think of other books in our collection.
Happy Summer Reading