When I was a kid, I read compulsively. In fact, I never stopped. And after I finished the early teen books like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the classic young adult books To Kill a Mockinbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, etc. there was nothing left for me to read - a bit like Roald Dahl's Matilda at 5, but only at 13. So, my mom, in her desperation, took me to the Mosselbay Library where I could take out anything I wanted. And like many a South African geeky teenage girl, I was left with Daniele Steele, John Grisham and Wilbur Smith. Talk about age-inappropriate! I still remember some of those raunchy scenes. And I bet a lot of kids didn't have such an awesome mom or was put off and just stopped reading.
What has changed since? The Young Adult fiction scene has exploded. It is simply incredible. If I only read good Young Adult now, I would almost never stop reading.
My favourites - most are sci-fi/fantasy, but I tried to choose most that aren't:
The Fault in our Stars
His Dark Materials (This wasn't available in SA when I was a teenager)
But actually, just go here, because it's a brilliant list:
will also be publishing some brilliant Young Adult books and I look forward to sharing those with you then.
If you're writing Young Adult, here is some advice: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/04/25-things-you-should-know-about-young-adult-fiction/