I love my fantasy story with a fun time, and a bunch of memorable characters along for the ride. Whether it’s in the land, the sea, or destroying the stars, give me a group of flawed, arguing, flirting, fighting and plotting the right course, and I’ll climb aboard happiness.
It was my love of such stories that drove the characters in my YA imagination, Winter, Whiteness and Eviland its sequence Rebel, Brave and Cruel. I wanted to ride some fun ice roads with a bunch of bad guys, so I wrote a story that made it possible.
In books with a team of workers, there is often work that needs to be done, and this work requires a collection of people with special skills. This creates palpable tension, sparks of connection, and naturally at its best, a page-turning story. Magic, we call it.
When I think of some of my favorite reads with memorable characters, the hard part is narrowing the list down to just five books. Although some of my favorite characters are featured in adult SFF books (Leviathan Risesanyone?), I’m going to limit this list to YA books, and I’m going to give you a collection of old and new favorites.
The saint by Adrienne Young
As an introduction to his popular YA study, A legend and NamesakeAdrienne Young donates The sainta novel that follows the paths of a sailor whose current plan is to own his ship and run his business, who is always in crisis of success, and a young man on the run whose secret threatens something each one he fought to achieve.
Through strong, beautiful prose we are invited into Riven and watch as the crew begins to form. The captain of the ship, the Saint, is a man tormented by his past and driven by the future he wants to experience. The captain of the ship, Clove, is the only person in the world of Saints.
These two men have a bad reputation, but nothing can guarantee that their lofty plans will succeed. A million mistakes could sink their rickety ship, but it’s the addition of Isolde, the young jewel whose touch attracts the Saint, that may be the end of all their hopes.
Thrown into the mix is Nash, an apprentice shipbuilder who isn’t exactly happy about joining the crew, but turns out to be better than anyone could have imagined. Even though we’re only treated to the feelings of Isolde and the Saint, it’s clear that each member of this group is a little broken, a little desperate, and in need of more than they want. It makes for a fun and emotional read.
Heist Association by Ally Carter
This book is fun from the first word. Heist Association i Oceans 11 for the YA crowd, but that description doesn’t begin to do it justice. Not only does Ally Carter know how to pull off a heist (and she does!), she also excels at that interpersonal energy that makes the crew so fun to watch. And you do it from the heart.
The leader of this group is Katarina Bishop, the daughter of a thief who is currently wanted for the theft of a mob art collection. When his best friend, WW Hale the Fifth—a gun-toting thief, heir to a fortune, and entourage of a young dreamer—pulls him out of a boarding school, he knows he must steal a collection, if only he clears his father’s name.
Luckily for Kat, her family has no shortage of criminals willing to help. Along with Hale and a bag named Nick, Kat and her cousins - the brilliant Bagshaw brothers, and the annoyingly beautiful Gabrielle with a gift for distraction – they put all their skills to use, and it’s a joy to read. As well as a small high class, it made me feel like I should steal some fancy pictures for my walls. If I had the knowledge, I would steal the crown jewels to join this group. Only, Kat’s uncle Eddie already did, so…
Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Under the Painted Sky is a historical setting in Missouri in 1849, featuring a Chinese-American violinist named Samantha, and a former slave named Annamae—two characters with spunk, and a kind of inner strength that inspires.
When tragedy strikes Samantha’s father, he breaks the law in self-defense. Now an outlaw, he teams up with Annamae, and the two go on the run, hoping to hide among the hordes of gold seekers bound for California. They disguise themselves as boys to protect themselves on the treacherous Oregon Trail, a decision that works well enough, but it becomes complicated when they join forces with three cowboys, turning the two of them into a team. of the five.
As Samantha grows closer to a cowboy named West, she learns that while it’s hard to hide who you really are when the workers need to trust each other, it’s a little harder when the heart gets involved.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
When I grow up, I want to write like Maggie Stiefvater. His prose is rich and structured, and everything he puts on the page is interesting. The Crow Boys is an example.
The story follows Blue, a girl who grew up in a house full of intellectual women, as she falls in love with four boys from a wealthy prep school in town: Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah.
Since Blue was young, she was told that her true love would die if she kissed him. Talk about a sad thing to hear! Seeing that Gansey’s spirit is still stuck with the souls of those who will die in the next twelve months, the questions bring him closer to this group of boys who are willing to be resurrected in order to find the king’s body. old Welsh, Glendower.
But hunting the ley cloth is more dangerous than they know, and it takes pieces of each of them—Blue’s incredible ability to amplify energy fields, Gansey’s “uncanny ability” to mysterious discoveries, Adam’s desire to make his own decisions, Ronan’s dreams, and the secret that Noah has been telling them for months – to see the job done.
Blue and the four Raven boys are passionate and interesting characters, and their commitment to each other, while imperfect, is heartwarming to read. I will admit to researching ley lines after I read this, and I like to think that Gansey has turned me into an honorable Raven boy.
All Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
When the book begins, it reads like a political fantasy, with a high-profile show of power that will prove that the heroine, Princess Amora Montara, is fit to rule.
When the show goes awry, Amora finds herself on the run with a rogue thief named Bastien who breaks her out of prison and gives her a ride on his magical ship, the Keel Haul, an unmanned ship.
But it’s not just the princess who comes on board. Her boyfriend who will soon follow her. Ferrick is not nearly the marriage partner that Amora had hoped for, but he is kind and wishes to save her. Only Amora finds herself comfortable in Keel Haul, under Bastien’s watchful eye.
So, on the unmanned ship, the crew begins to form. And they’ll need each other if they’re to defeat Kavan, a rebel ruler determined to master more magic. It is a goal that brought down the government once, and it is determined to do so again.
A captive mermaid named Vataea joins the crew soon after agreeing to lend them the use of her magic provided they release her once the request is completed. Vataea is beautiful and deadly, and his addition to the crew brings power and unpredictability. It’s a recipe for a great read, and it’s a game you can’t help but enjoy.
Shannon Dittemore I am a writer, speaker, and blogger Go to New Writerswhich was one of the Author’s Book 101 Best Websites for Authors. When she is not at her desk, she can be found in the country of Northern California, accompanied by her husband, their two children, and a man named Leonidas.