Saturday 21 November 2009

My Top 20 Books Of The Decade - Part 1

Let me start by saying this list is my own personal favourite 20 boy-friendly books of this last decade. Unlike Krissi Murison, editor of the NME, who states in the Guardian that the NME's list of Top 50 Albums of the Noughties "is the definitive word on the greatest albums of the noughties", I make no such claim. It isn't a definitive list; it doesn't involve votes by anyone else; it is purely a chance for me to highlight my favourite reads from the last decade in the hope that it might encourage a few more boys to pick up one of the books and get enjoyment from reading it. You may disagree with my choices. You may feel that I have not mentioned a book that really should be on the list (and that probably will happen - I am sure that as soon as this blog entry is published I will think of another one for the list). That is what the comments section is for.... whether you agree, disagree or couldn't care less I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Oh yes..... and one more thing. There have been so many brilliant series books released for boys over the last decade that instead of spending painful hours choosing just one book from the series I am just going to count the series as one choice. Cheating? It's my blog.... I make the rules and it has taken me long enough to rank these in some kind of order anyway (oh.... and I have also decided not to include any of the Harry Potter books, mainly due to the fact that the Philosopher's Stone was published way back in the last millennium).

So.... counting down from number 20 to number 11, I start with:

20. The Montmorency series by Eleanor Updale

A fresh twist on the Jekyll and Hide story. Former convict turned aristocratic gentleman-spy, set in the Victorian era. Exciting, humourous, graphic, never patronising. A rarity in YA literature in that all the characters are adults.

19. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

As funny and clever as Roald Dahl, but more sophisticated. Fast paced, with tension and humour in all the right places. A magical story.

18. The Death Collector/Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards

A pair of books chronicling the work of the top secret Department of Unclassified Artefacts at the British Museum. Grave-robbing, assassins, dinosaurs, zombies and vampires.... what more could a boy ask for?

17. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

Set in an alternate Victorian London and almost steampunk in nature. Dark and mysterious with action and fantasy in equal measures. As haunting a story as the title suggests. 

16. Airborn / Skybreaker / Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

This one is definitely steampunk. Set in the early Edwardian era (but not the one we know) this series has action, adventure, airships, sky pirates, strange creatures and even attempts at space travel. I dare you to put this one down once you start reading it!

15. The Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke

A "magical adventure that oozes a passion for books and the awesome power of words on a page, written by an author who clearly adores stories" (that's from the Amazon review - I really could not think of a better way of summarising the appeal of this series). Female main characters often don't appeal to boys, but the story is more than enough to have you turning the pages.

14. The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven

A fantastic tale of good versus evil (with martial arts and vomiting bats thown in for good measure). Mr Enthoven delivers an epic story full of action and terror, and a healthy dose of humour. If you are a teenage boy and haven't read this book yet you really should be asking yourself why?

13. The Darkside series by Tom Becker

A great concept - there is an alternate London called Darkside, a place populated by the children of Jack the Ripper, vampires and a plethora of nasty and unsavoury characters. Four books in the series so far, with the fifth and final one due in 2010. The descriptions of Darkside and its inhabitants are very well written..... despite the nastiness of the place I really want to go there!

12. The Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Having this sitting just outside the Top 10 will no doubt cause some controversy with the many die-hard Tunnels fans out there, but this list has been agonising. Thinking of only twenty books was difficult enough in itself without having to put them in order. It is a wonderful story, with great charcters, but for me the series has lacked pace at times leaving me a little frustrated.

11. The Power of Five series by Anthony Horowitz

Very different from Mr Horowitz's Alex Rider books, which have overshadowed this series to some degree, but certainly no less enjoyable. Action, magical fantasy and ancient mythology combine to create a fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable series. Again, this is another that really deserves to be in the Top 10, and maybe on release of the final book in the series I might change my mind. However, as it may be more than a year before this is published the series will have to stay at number 11 for now.

That's all for now folks..... watch this space for the final countdown from 10 down to 1.

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