As anyone who has ever made a list of this kind will know, it is very hard! And I know as soon as it is posted, I will want to make some changes.
The heartening thing was, there were a substantial number of Indian books. And this is a personal list and I have a predisposition to fantasy. The books are in alphabetical order. Each of them have made me very happy. Please do add your favourites to the list too!
Amulet of Samarkhand by Jonathan Stroud The first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, this is the story of a young sorcerer’s apprentice, Nathaniel, who summons a 5000-year-old genie named Bartimaeus in a London ruled by magicians. One of the most amazing fantasy novels I have read—and who knew footnotes could be so much fun?
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger One of the great coming of age novels of all time. The story of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield and what he did over the course of two days. A must-read for everyone who wants to be a true teenager.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Okay, so you have watched the movie. But the book is better! A dystopian fantasy set in the US of the future, where two teenagers from each of the districts must participate in a fight-to-the-death TV reality show. Completely gripping stuff.
No Guns at My Son’s Funeral by Paro Anand Set in Kashmir, Aftab, a young boy, leads a double life. By day, he is a normal, bubbly teenager whose prime concerns are cricket, family and friends. At night he sneaks away to confabulate with Akram and his fledgling group of tearaway terrorists. It is a stunning story of a child born in a time of war.
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman Okay, so this is perhaps a bit young for this age group—but if you have not read it you must! Pullman’s tale of Lyra Belacqua, and her “daemon,” Pantalaimon, It compasses the struggle of good and even, alternate worlds, and is completely impossible to summarise.
Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu I have personal prejudice when it comes to judging this book, but it is a completely rollicking read. Two prophecies were made before the Great War, two hundred years earlier, one foretelling the return of the great rakshas Danh-Gem and the other about a hero who would rise to challenge the rakshas. As the chosen hero is sent on a quest, other young men and women are also faced with the consequences of Danh-Gem’s return.
The Battle for Number 19 by Ranjit Lal Eight schoolgirls from the hills on a tour of Agra, drive into Delhi the day Indira Gandhi is assassinated. This is the story of how they survive when the world around them is going mad.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone is a fifteen-year-old boy who describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties’. When a neighbour’s dog is killed, Christopher sets out to investigate and finds out much more than he expected. A stunning and unusual novel.
The Grasshopper’s Run by Siddharth Sarma One of my favourite Indian YA novels, which won the inaugural Crossword Award for the children’s and YA books. Set against the backdrop of World War II in northeastern India, where the British and the Japanese clash, it is the intensely felt and told story of a young boy Gojen and his personal mission to seek out the man responsible for the attack on his village.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A timeless classic, told from the perspective of a young girl, about events unfolding in Georgia in the 1930s. It is a lovely and complex books, dealing with themes of class, colour, courage and gender it addresses. While this summary makes it sound boring, it is anything but.
And of course, if you are looking for more YA stuff, we have a bunch of gorgeous Duckbill books too!
The Wordkeepers by Jash Sen
Jobless Clueless Reckless by Revathi Suresh
Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar
Alice in Deadland by Mainak Dhar
Facebook Phantom by Suzanne Sangi
The Right Kind of Dog by Adil Jussawalla