Here are some of my favorite books and authors of young adult literature. We'll see if I can keep it down to just five. There are, of course, many other authors whose books I want to read and just haven't gotten to yet.
1. Laurie Halse Anderson. My three favorites of hers, Catalyst, Speak, and Wintergirls, are all the kind of books I love best. I like fantasy, I like historical fiction, and I like mysteries, but these kind of contemporary issue-driven first-person narratives are the kind of stuff that I just eat up. I love books that make me think, laugh, and cry.
2. Shannon Hale. I've enjoyed everything of hers I've read. I'd have to pick Princess Academy as my favorite because of one particular aspect--girl power! I love female protagonists who improve not just their own lives, but the lives of the people around them.
3. Cynthia Voigt. I loved the whole Tillerman cycle. I read them as a teenager, and I still think they are really good stuff. Dicey's Song and A Solitary Blue are her best, in my opinion.
4. Lois Lowry. I thought The Giver was just about as perfect as a novel could get. Gathering Blue was also really good.
5. J.K. Rowling. So everybody and their dog has read Harry Potter. Maybe those canines have good taste. I wouldn't say they are close to perfection, but I can't help but admire Rowling's ability to create an entire world and a culture around one skinny, bespectacled boy. And I can reread them when I'm sick.
6. Tim Wynne-Jones. I'm totally in awe at how he uses a single striking image (like a piano dangling from a helicopter in The Maestro) to create a novel.
7. Orson Scott Card. Ender's Game made my jaw hang open. The premise seems impossible, that a six-year-old boy is chosen to save the world, yet you believe it when you read it. There's some deep stuff in this one.
I can think of more, but I'll stop here. I have to work on my own masterpiece sometimes, too.