Continuing on from Part 1 and Part 2 of the countdown of my Top 20 boy-friendly books of this last decade, here are numbers 5 down to 2...... to keep you in suspense for just a little longer I am not going to tell you my Number 1 choice until New Year's Eve.
5. The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
Listen up boys! Books can have female main characters and still be boy-friendly and totally brilliant (watch this space in 2010 for more recommendations for books like this). Valkyrie Cain (for it is she, not Skulduggery, who is the true main character in this story) is smart, confident, sharp-tongued, and best of all she really kicks ass! As we progress through the books we see these character traits, as well as her magical and combat abilities, develop under the tutelage and friendship of the wise-cracking, dead detective Skulduggery Pleasant. These books cross a number of genres, delivering enough horror, mystery, fantasy, action and humour too keep even the most reluctant of readers engrossed. With the fourth book in the series, entitled Dark Days, due to be published on 1st April 2010, there is still plenty of time to read the first three books if you haven't already done so.
4. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
A consistently brilliant series of five books that will only soar in popularity with the release of the big-budget movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians in 2010. Rick Riordan very cleverly weaves the classic tales of ancient Greek mythology into a modern day action/adventure story good enough to rival the Harry Potter series. The whole series is incredibly fast paced, with exceptionally tight plotting, and enough twists to keep the reader guessing to the very last page. Like the Harry Potter series these books are all about friendship and triumph against seemingly impossible odds. Mr Riordan's The Red Pyramid, the first book in the Kane Chronicles, is due for release in 2010. This time focusing on the mythology of ancient Egypt, I already have this high up on my list of must-reads for next year.
3. The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
I found it so difficult to decide between this and the series of books at Number 2 that I very nearly cheated and put them both as equal second. However, I have bitten the bullet and made my decision, which no doubt will be unpopular with some of my blog readers. There is very little I can say about this series that hasn't already been said. Mr Horowitz is the man who set the ball rolling for the multitude of great boy-friendly action stories that have been written and published over the last ten years, and I do not mean to do any other author a disservice by saying that without the Alex Rider series we might not ever have seen the Young Bond series, Jimmy Coates, Cherub and many more. Not all the books have shone with the same brilliance, but on balance the series is still head and shoulders above most of the competition, with the recent Crocodile Tears being one of the best so far in my opinion.
2. The Jimmy Coates series by Joe Craig
There are six episodes so far in this action-packed and very imaginative series of boy-friendly books. Throughout the series Joe Craig has never disappointed with his combination of a troubled and reluctant hero, breathless action scenes, and immoral government-sponsored genetic engineering, all set in a dystopian Britian of the future. The stories are tightly plotted with many memorable characters and Mr Craig writes his action scenes with a fluency that should be the envy of many other writers, whether they write for the young or the adult markets. However, I think it is the author's imagination and vision that really make his stories stand out from the rest of the crowd and I am sure that they will continue to grow in popularity. Look out for the next instalment in the series - due to a dispute with his publisher we do not yet know when this will be but I am sure it will be well worth the wait.