First things first: this isn’t really a top ten list as much as it is just a list of ten. Unfortunately I had to make some concessions to fill all empty spots, but like anything else, tastes are plenty subjective and I’m sure some of you would agree (and disagree) with my picks. 😛
From Beethoven to Black Eyed Peas, Dvorak to Death Cab for Cutie, Tchaikovsky to Taylor Swift, here are ten young adult novels to do with music!
1) If I Stay – Gayle Forman
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
This book kind of floats the concept of life and death but packages it in a YA way. It’s kind of sad. It’s kind of heartbreaking. And the main character is a music prodigy on track to go to the best music school. 😛
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Is it to cliche if I choose Say Something by A Great Big World? Just overall a sad, somber song.
2) Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store. This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
This book is one of the best coming-of-age YA books I’ve ever read to this day. The characters are flawed and so relatable, the relationships well-developed, and the plot perfectly executed. And you know that classic where couples make mixtapes for each other to listen to? This book has it, you guys! ❤
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Thank You by Dido. An oldie, maybe, but really reflects Owen and Annabel’s relationship. He’s just so, so good to her!
3) This Lullaby – Sarah Dessen
When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?
Is it cheating to include Dessen twice? I certainly hope not! The blurb makes it sound like a simple love story, but honestly it’s quite a bit more than that. Also, Dexter is in a band and they write songs about potatoes.
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Miss Independent by Ne Yo. Remy is so proud of her not needing anyone, and it shows.
4) Five Flavors of Dumb – Antony John
The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.
The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.
The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?
Yes to a protagonist who works really hard to push herself out of her comfort zone. And yes to a rock band called ‘Dumb’.
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Wings by Birdy. I feel like this is a song about overcoming obstacles, and there are definitely some obstacles in this book.
5) This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
I read this book several years ago and in full disclosure, I don’t actually have much recollection of it, but I remember enjoying its foray into the DJ-ing world. 😛
6) Hello, I Love You – Katie M. Stout
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start. She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame.
I did not like Hello, I Love You. The main character is extremely culturally ignorant and often judgmental, and her love interest–a Korean pop star–is a rude, egoistical jerk who is so hot and cold, I really want him to either permanently stay or permanently leave. No in-betweens.
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: The first song that comes to mind is Taeyang’s I Need a Girl, although I do like that song much better than this book. But let’s face it, Jason is pretty codependent.
7) Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises.
Eleanor and Park, two teenagers who are also ‘misfits’ at their school, bond over Joy Division and school bus rides. This book is like the ‘indie song’ of books, if you ask me. 😛
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Bloom by The Paper Kites, for that lovely feeling when you’re just falling in love.
8) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City–and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
Levithan and Cohn’s writing, when put together, has always been more of a miss than a hit for me, but the movie for this book is generally quite cute.
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys for that majestic NYC feel.
9) Melophobia – James Morris
Melophobia: fear or hatred of music.
The time: now; the place: America, but in a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity. Any music sowing the seeds of anarchy is banned, destroyed if found, its creators and listeners harshly punished.
Merrin Pierce works as an undercover Patrol officer assigned to apprehend a fugitive musician who threatens the safe fabric of society, only to confront everything she thought to be true – her values, upbringing, job, and future.
Melophobia takes the world as we know it but erases all shreds of music. No one can create music except for the government, and no one can listen to anything but government-mandated music. For a self-published book, this one actually surprised me with how well-plotted it is.
RECOMMENDED SOUNDTRACK: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. Worse than the destruction in this book, but it’s pretty bad.
10) Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception – Maggie Stiefvater
Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician.
She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin.
Stiefvater’s lesser-known (and lesser-liked) book, Lament is generally enjoyable, though I’ve seen it mentioned as the faerie version of Twilight.
What do you think of these books and songs? What’s on your TTT this week? Let me know in the comments or leave me a link to your post! ❤