Generally, I'm leery of YA fiction, because I am what is known colloquially as "a grown-ass man." But Charles N. Brown, the late Editor-In-Chief of Locus, a publication I hold in the highest esteem, apparently preferred YA novels over most other types of fiction during the last years of his life. And I just read a YA fantasy novel that I really liked — Daryl Gregory's Harrison Squared, it's great, you should read it too — and I also recently picked up Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go after enjoying his regular adult novel The Crane Wife from last year (though that's basically a fantasy, too, and one of the protagonists is an adolescent). So I'm curious to find other good books in this category as well.
There are some restrictions on the types of books I'm willing to read, though:
- So-called "dystopian" novels that are set in patently ridiculous futures in which people are broken up into "castes" reminiscent of first grade activity groups. Actual dystopian SF is okay if the setting is well-wrought and the characters aren't messianic superheroes.
- Books in which the hero(ine)'s romantic travails are the most important element of the plot — basically the "Team XXXX" school of writing.
- "Chosen One" narratives. I just... don't.
- Generic fantasy/horror elements — vampires, werewolves, angels, etc. I have no problem with fantasy elements or secondary worlds, but I'd prefer something weirder and less classifiable than standard-issue fare.
- I'm looking mainly for current (post-2000) stuff, since I'm familiar with most of the classics (Heinlein, Christopher, L'Engle, et al.) and have even read a few of them.
YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS — GIVE THEM TO ME!