A friend recently asked me to suggest some books for her 12-year-old son. Since far more books are marketed to girls that age than boys, my friend complained that it’s hard to find stories her son would like. Here are the suggestions I gave her, as well as some more I got from my librarian husband… if you know any boys in this age group who are interested in reading, you might consider recommending or buying some of these books to them as well:
- Gone by Michael Grant. One reviewer describes this story as “Lord of the Flies, if it were written by Stephen King” and I think the description is pretty apt. In the book, everyone 15 years old and up disappears in an eye blink from a small California town and the children who are left have to figure out how to deal with it. And some of those kids are developing strange mutant powers…It’s an exciting, fast-moving read. My one complaint is the characters are pretty one-dimensional. The bad guys are bad — really sociopathically evil — for no other reason than they were born that way. The male protagonist is a little more interesting in that he’s an extremely reluctant hero. But the story did deal with some of the issues I thought might get glossed over, such as “what about the friggin’ babies?!”
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. The story of Nobody Owens, a boy who’s raised from a baby by a bunch of ghosts in a graveyard and a vampire. If he leaves the protection of the graveyard then he risks being murdered by the nefarious “Jack,” the assassin who killed his family and is eagerly waiting to finish the job.I love this book so much. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer and creates worlds that are original, creepy, beautiful, and unforgettable.
- I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. Haven’t read this one yet but am dying to. It’s being promoted as a book that fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will love and is scheduled to be released as a major motion picture in 2011.“John Smith” is one of nine aliens who were brought to Earth as an infant to flee the invading species that attacked their home world, Lorien. The only problem is, the invading species has now found them on Earth. Three of Loriens have already been found and murdered. John is number four on the list.
- The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson. Daniel X is an alien who looks just like a regular teenager who’s tasked with the onerous duty of protecting the Earth from all the really NASTY aliens out there… It’s got kind of a “Men in Black” thing going on.The writing is short, snappy, and fun. Plus, the bad guys are monstrously gruesome.
- The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. Rob recommended this series about a high school guy whose father was a vampire and mom was human. His parents died in a mysterious accident and he has to discover the truth of what happened to them, in addition to dealing with regular high school drama and avoid getting spiked by the vampire hunters who are on to him.Yeah, I know, vampires, bleah… I’m sick of them, too. But at least this story has a male protagonist who presumably doesn’t sparkle.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. This is a more literary read which has garnered great reviews. It’s about two very different boys who happen to share the same name and whose paths intersect in a way that changes their lives forever. Critics call it “humourous and insightful.”
- Bonechiller by Graham MacNamee. This is a great horror story for kids—but be warned: it is SCARY. Not gruesome or gory… just “scared to turn out the lights” freaky. Danny and his father move to a small, remote town in Ontario where every generation, during the coldest winters, children mysteriously start disappearing. People think they’ve run away, but Danny discovers the truth on one particularly frigid evening when a horrifying creature taps him to be its next victim.The monster in this story is original and downright disturbing… but the writing is top-notch and the characters are interesting and well rendered. If scary stories are the only thing that pique your 12- or 13-year-old’s reading interest then I suggest you get him to give this one a try.
- RIP, M.D. by Mitch Schauer. This graphic novel is perfect for boys who aren’t quite sure if they really like reading yet, but are into funny, dark stories involving monsters. Ripley Plimpt’s life is turned upside down when he saves the life of a tiny bat — only discover the bat was really a vampire. Suddenly he acquires the reputation as a “monster doctor” and has all sorts of monsters big and small coming to him for help in solving their problems.
So those are some ideas to get you started… Do you have any more suggestions? If you know of any books that your boys have enjoyed reading, please tell us about them in the comments.