Daniel José Older recommends 3 favorite YA: NPR novels


The end of summer means that those school vacation reading assignments are hopefully over and about to be handed in – but if you’ve got a young bookworm at home, we’ve got you covered. We have a whole list of fantastic young adult novels they can turn to. And here to guide us in this quest, fantasy and young adult author Daniel José Older.

“I love a story that really transforms the world I’m in, even though it uses a whole different world,” he says. “Ultimately, every young adult novel should be about a young person stepping up to who he is, whether it’s understanding life better or finding, you know, magical villains.”

  • “Ebony wings”, by J. Elle

    Denene Millner Books / Simon and Schuster

    It’s an amazing start on a young woman who learns terrible and amazing things about her family’s magical legacy. She is forced to step out of her comfort zone to really step up and protect her sister and sort of throw herself into the fire of this entirely new world.

  • “Legendborn”, by Tracy Deonn

    Books by Margaret K. McElderry

    SOUTH DAKOTA: It follows 16-year-old Bree Matthews as she discovers a secret society of demons preying on students in her summer program at UNC Chapel Hill. What does Bree find out about the company?

    DJ: Bree therefore discovers that this whole secret society is linked to Arthurian legends. My favorite place is this crossroads of mythology and history. It is a place where I love to write my own books and I love to read other books. But here, you know, we have a story of alienation, love and culture. And I’m so excited that there is more to come.

  • “The King of Scars” by Leigh Bardugo

    Dude, this whole series – Leigh Bardugo is just one of the great fantasy writers, not just of our time, but of all time. And in this book, you know, we have complex stuff about foreign policy and peacemaking and not peacemaking. We also have monsters, demons, gods and creatures. I can’t wait for people to read it.

On whether there are any broader themes in the YA books coming out this year

I think we’re all trying to deal with what this world looks like right now and what it will look like next. As Arundhati Roy said, a pandemic is a portal.

On his own series, the Shadowshaper Cypher

Sierra Santiago is a 16-year-old girl in Brooklyn who enjoys painting murals, and she discovers that she is part of a family heirloom that has been denied to her, of magical workers called shadowshapers, who can bring life to life. art with wit. So she must fight the evil anthropologists of Columbia, help her friends survive, and truly understand what this legacy means, to be a part of this new magical world.

This story was edited for radio by Isabella Gomez and adapted for the web by Petra Mayer


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