Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. Leave your link in the comments below. And feel free to comment even if you are not officially participating! This week’s prompt is:
Which YA books would you like to see become classics and why?
The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows stunned the YA community with its vivid worldbuilding, its complex plot, and its nuanced characters. A lot of YA fantasy can feel derivative, but Bardugo made hers feel fresh. By doing so, she also inspired a wave of YA heist novels. As in many cases, however, the first proved to be among the best. I suspect fans will be reading Bardugo’s work for years to come.
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins’ trilogy set off a wave of dystopian fare for YA readers. However, its vision still feels original and compelling. The trilogy grapples with questions of authority and resistance, questions that continue to speak to teens. Additionally, it addresses issues such as consumerism and waste, and public image and propaganda–issues that remain relevant today.
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
Frances Hardinge is one of the best YA fantasy authors writing today. She avoids the common YA tropes to write highly original stories that typically have just a twist of the supernatural or the creepy. And her prose is beautiful, effortless, sometimes speaking truths that hit the heart. Her work may not be as popular as some, but it certainly deserves recognition.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Will just watched his older brother die. And he’s pretty sure he knows the guy who shot him. So it’s time to follow the Rules. The most important Rule? Get revenge. But as Will takes the elevator down to find his target, he is joined by a series of spirits who tell him their stories. It seems that the Rules solve nothing and only continue the cycle of violence. The book has won an impressive number of awards and tackles difficult, relevant topics. I can see this book being assigned in classrooms, helping it to gain classic status.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
To be fair, Rowling’s series might be considered half middle-grade and half YA. But it already seems well on its way to achieving classic status as enthusiasm for the series seems not to have waned in the years since its initial publication. And Millenial parents will no doubt pass on a love of Harry Potter to the new generation.
The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy by Neal Shusterman
Neal Shusterman’s trilogy raises important philosophical questions about the nature of death, the possibilities of AI, and the good and evil shown in human nature. This gives Shusterman’s work a depth not all books have, which probably helped the series become a bestseller. I can also see teachers using the series in the classroom, thus helping to cement its classic status.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End is a poignant look at what it means to die–and what it means to live. In an alternate world, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both receive a call from Death-Cast notifying them that they will die that day. They connect through the Last Friend app and, together, make special moments, but also find that death allows them to face the world, and themselves, with unexpected honesty. This book is special because it makes readers ask themselves big questions: what makes a life worth living, what kind of legacy can we expect to leave behind, and why we often leave so many important things undone and unsaid.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater’s does not read quite like anything else in YA and that originality is what should make it a classic. That, combined with its beautiful prose, lovable characters, and intricate plot. I also love that it references a historical time period not many readers likely knew about previously.
The Reckoners Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson has a gift for creating unique worlds and magic systems. The Reckoners trilogy showcases his talents as he creates a world where superheroes are the villains and “ordinary” people must band together to fight them. Sanderson is a perennial fan favorite, and I can see his books lasting as fantasy and sci-classics.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give climbed the bestseller list as it gave readers a personal look at the Black Lives Matter movement. Its important historical context will surely see it become a classic, as will the fact that it is currently being assigned on school reading lists and in book clubs. Readers are not likely to soon forget Thomas’s powerful debut.