A couple of years ago I was given a copy of ‘Looking For a Alaska’ at around the time I first began hearing about John Green (the mega popular author in the states who would do the same over here). As a bookseller, I often hear about ‘the next big thing’ but the hype was convincing so I dove straight into ‘Looking for Alaska’ and after finishing it in a day, I was certainly convinced. Over a couple of years Green has gone from a relatively unknown over here but, no doubt thanks to Green himself and his dedicated Nerdfighter’s online, he now has a British publisher (thank you Penguin!). In ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, he has a gem of a novel that has broken the Teen label and crossed over into general Fiction arguably reaching an even bigger fanbase than ever before. Green has done a lot of good for YA fiction and continues to be one of my favourite authors in the genre but one of the questions I get asked a lot at the moment is ‘What have you got that’s similar to John Green’, so I thought I’d put together a list of books for those asking ‘what next?’ So if you like John Green why not try….
1) Hate List By Jennifer Brown
Like most of us, there are people Valerie isn’t particularly fond of so when she jokingly makes The Hate List with her boyfriend Nick, she doesn’t expect him to open fire on the people she’s helped name. Yes, it’s dark and serious but it’s a powerful and compulsive read.
2) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay is haunted by ex-classmate Hannah who manages to distribute a tape from beyond the grave implicating her classmates in her recent suicide. As dark as the subject matter is, it’s a compelling and original read.
3) 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
The Ultimate Travel Guide! When Ginny’s favourite Aunt dies, she leaves her some cash, a series of letters and a ticket to London where Ginny begins her journey of self discovery and independence. Not convinced yet!?! Firstly, follow Johnson on Twitter (she’s hilarious!) then get an introduction to her in the short story collection ‘Let It Snow’ which features Green.
4) The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Brie is dead but for some reason she can’t seem to move on. At first she thinks it’s because she needs to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend and ex-best-friend but hurting them doesn’t help. Don’t worry, it’s not all grim with a sprinkling of humour and potential love interest to lighten things up.
5) The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The story of Ruby Oliver who, after boyfriend Jackson (no.13) dumps her, begins to lose the plot. We follow Ruby and her shrink as she works her way through a list of 15 guys important to her and how it helps her regain control. Some serious topics discussed but over all very entertaining.
6) Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Geeky, awkward yet lovable Charlie kinda reminds me of Miles from ‘Looking for Alaska’. All Charlie wants to do is navigate through High School unscathed but a combination of his weird family, a teacher who singles him out because of his intelligence and well meaning but bonkers friends Patrick and Sam, mean that Charlie will have to step out of the shadows and embrace the limelight or at least an accidental lead role in a small town production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Every generation has its coming of age novel, this has got to be the noughties edition!
7) If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Mia literally has everything going for her until one day a terrible car crash tears apart her perfect world. Trapped in a coma, the book follows Mia going over the accident and trying to make sense of just how much her life will change but she needs to make a decision, is this new life worth fighting for?
8) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
For me, Sarah Dessen is like Jacqueline Wilson for an ever so slightly older audience – she’s great at writing about topics that affect various teens. If you’re new to Dessen, ‘The Truth About Forever’ is a good place to start. Macy just doesn’t want to deal with her father’s death so instead she tries to make her life perfect to convince everyone that she’s coping just fine (maybe she can convince herself too…). But with the chance to hang round with a new group of friends and away from her old life, Macy begins to face both her grief and her future.
9) Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Filmed as ‘Now is Good’, think of a British ‘ The Fault In Our Stars’. Tess only has a couple of months to live but she’s determined to live fast and hard, not pausing to think about the consequences or, with some things she gets up to, the legality of her actions. At some point though, she has to slow down and mentally prepare herself and her family and friends for the inevitable.
10) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Love the concept of this – three stories for the price of one, Cath’s story, her fan-fiction and the original novels they are based upon. Arriving on campus Wren decides she wants independence, Cath however doesn’t feel safe without her sister. The only place Cath feels secure is online, where her alter-ego Magi-Cath has a global following writing alternate Simon Snow fiction (think Harry Potter meets Twilight meets Game of Thrones). Wren’s betrayal turns out to be a blessing in disguise as Cath’s new roomate Reagan along with Levi are determined to stop Cath spending her Uni years hiding behind her laptop. The only problem is Cath also has to satisfy her fans by finishing her story before the official publication of the final Simon Snow novel.
11) Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
As festive as tinsel, mince pies and dodgy gifts from old relatives. Okay, slightly cheating here with two authors, one book but ‘Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares’ does give you a chance to try out two authors at the same time. As a format, this book is a brilliant idea with Cohn and Levithan picking up alternate chapters to give each character a distinct voice and it must be successful as it’s not the first time these two authors have teamed up – remember Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (book or film!)? I’m sure that any Green fan will be aware of Levithan from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but much like Green, Levithan was hugely popular America long before he really began to get recognition in the UK, perhaps he could be just as big as Green here in the next few years.