Let's face it. We can't all be John Green or Sarah Dessen or Rainbow Rowell. They're among the Kings and Queens of YA contemp. Most YA fans know them. Most YA fans have read them. Their books rocket up the best sellers lists and they are talked about, recognized, and celebrated.
I'm a fan of these authors myself, but over the past several years I've discovered and enjoyed many authors who don't seem to be as widely read (but maybe should be). Here are a few of my stand-outs:
Abby McDonald/Abigail Haas
I've been saying for a year and a half now that DANGEROUS GIRLS is the most underrated, under-read YA in existence. And it is. This is the book I shove at people when they ask for a recommendation. I think I even told my cat to read it. It's just that good. The follow-up book, DANGEROUS BOYS, is fantastic as well. Abby writes unputdownable YA thriller like nobody's business.
Laura is, in a word, amazing. Her writing is gorgeous, evocative, and brave. Her stories are thought-provoking and heart-wrenching. I needed a box--an entire BOX--of Kleenex when I read ORDINARY BEAUTY. Few books have touched me so much or wrecked me so thoroughly. I know that when I open one of Laura's books, I will spend the next several hours crying. And I look forward to it.
No, I don't just love Rebekah because her name is the same as mine but spelled differently. I love her because her books are hilarious and awesome. I remember getting her first book, PLAYING NICE, as an Amazon freebie. I do not have a good track record with Amazon freebies, but this one was a gem. I scored an ARC of her latest book, ASPEN, and was charmed all over again.
Dahlia is super supportive to authors and I appreciate the time and commitment she puts into promoting, recommending, and blogging about books. She also writes books, and they are fun and engaging. BEHIND THE SCENES was my first Dahlia book, but definitely not my last. She also wrote a New Adult that "didn't make want to scoop my eyes out with a spork." (direct quote from my review) and I'm eagerly awaiting her next YA, UNDER THE LIGHTS (which, FYI, comes out the same day as my next book).
Brandy's debut novel, POINTE, was probably my favorite contemporary YA of 2014. I discovered it while browsing through the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag on Twitter one day. Sometimes an author's writing just clicks with me and that's what happened here. There are a select handful of authors whose Goodreads pages I keep a close eye on, just waiting for a new book to add to my TBR shelf, and Brandy is one of them.
Amy Christine Parker
Cults. Brainwashing. Corruption. Amy hit on a lot of my literary weaknesses with GATED. I was riveted from the first page to the last. This is another author who I feel is under-hyped. Some people put Amy's books in the dystopian or sci-fi category, but after reading the first one, I think they're solidly contemporary. I have yet to read GATED's sequel, ASTRAY, but it's high up on my to-read list.
Jessica brings something really unique to contemporary YA. MY LIFE AFTER NOW tackles an issue I don't think I've ever seen in a YA novel. THE SUMMER I WASN'T ME is about a girl who goes to a religious de-gaying camp. I feel like I can count on this author to bring something new and different to the table. Ever ask yourself "Why hasn't someone written a book about ______?" Well, Jessica is probably writing it.
Who are some authors that you feel should be on everyone's radar? Tell me in the comments. If I haven't heard of them, I'll rectify that ASAP.