I'm always stumped when people ask me what kind of books I like. I've always given the same, slightly unsatisfactory answer: I like something different. That can be anything (which is kind of the point). I just want something fresh and new, and I wanted the same when I was a teen, too, so here are five YA books that march to the beat of their own drummer:
1. Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars by Daniel Manus Pinkwater Or pretty much anything by Pinkwater, who definitely marches to his own drummer, bless him forever. Alan Mendelsohn may be a boy from Mars, there may be other dimensions, but really it's just about being weird and feeling like you look at the world completely differently than everyone else. Which, of course, you do.
2. There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff What if God was actually a 15-year-old boy? It would explain a lot. Ever since Meg first told me about this, I have been seething with jealousy that I didn't come up with the idea first. Seething.
3. Every Day by David Levithan Like Pinkwater, you could read pretty much anything by Levithan. In Every Day, a being wakes up in a different teenage body every day, which is fine until the being falls in love. The lift and flow of this is miraculous. His books are the most joyous odes to being different.
4. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin A classic, perhaps for a touch younger readership, but it's the right kind of classic: anyone will love it. Westing's been murdered, one of his relatives is responsible, there are clues everywhere. A puzzling and puzzle-filled book I must have read a million times and am now tempted to find my copy and read again.
5. Railseaby China Mieville A dried-up world where whale-sized moles "swim" the dust oceans and Ahab-like captains pursue them unto madness. Yet it's a ton of fun, while being totally serious and imaginatively brilliant. This was the best YA title I read last year, and--dare I say it--one of Mieville's best ever books. Read it.