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The Best Middle Grade and YA Authors

My favorite author of all time is Marissa Meyer. Not only did she write my favorite series (The Lunar Chronicles) but she has since written many stunning novels (all of which I own). Unlike some authors, she is not a one-hit-wonder by any means.

In my time as a reader (which is quite a long time), I have come to discover that there are many different types of authors. I'd like it to be known that I respect and appreciate all these types of authors. No one type is better than the rest and it should be recognized that even one AMAZING book is a huge accomplishment.

  • The One-Hit-Wonder: This is the author that writes one amazing book (or rather, one book you enjoy) while his/her others are average (or less than). For example, Kristin Harmel wrote The Book of Lost Names which was one of my absolute favorites, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy The Winemaker's Wife (I do plan on reading some of her other books but haven't yet). Similarly, I loved Julie Kagawa's Talon Saga but have hated every other book she's produced enough to not read them.

  • The One-Genre-Wonder: I've also found that many authors excel in one genre, producing book after book that makes five stars while remaining in the same genre. Many of these authors tend to stick to a very small niche. For example, Rick Riordan (author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) has written at least five series (Percy Jackson and the Olympian, Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, The Kane Chronicles, and The Apollo Trials) all which twist mythology from one culture or another. I have enjoyed them all but there's no question he has a go-to for his books. Meanwhile, some historical fiction authors will write in the same time period every time (consider Kristen Harmel with WWII). John Green, who I put on this list, mostly writes in the romance genre.

  • The One-Series-Wonder: These are the authors that carry their series (or world) on and on. Often, the single series/world is all they've written. Or else, their other books don't get the same rep as their series. I love some of these authors (and in fact, at least one is on this list) and I enjoy reading long series. Lemony Snickett would be an example in this category with his 13-book Series of Unfortunate Events. Did you know he has written a huge amount of other books? Leigh Bardugo has written seven amazing books (three series), all of which are set in the Grishaverse world she's created. Similarly, Stephanie Garber used the same world of Caraval to create her newest novel, Once Upon a Broken Heart.

  • All Wonder: There are few authors able to create books across genres and with incredibly variant plots and characters. Even fewer of these authors create amazing books every time. Most of the authors on this list have written amazing books but tend to stick to one genre (ex. Gail Carson Levine's best books are mostly fairytale twists and Margaret Owen's series are both fantasy). So far, the only author whose books traverse across the genres (and are good) has been Marissa Meyer but I would be excited to find other authors with many wonderful books in multiple genres. Let me know your favorite authors in the comments and what genres they write.

Great Authors:

Marissa Meyer

Leigh Bardugo

Margaret Owen

Gail Carson Levine

John Green

Marissa Meyer:

Books I've Read: The Lunar Chronicles (2012-2018); Renegades (2017-2019); Heartless (2016); Instant Karma (2020); Gilded (2021)

Favorite Book or Series: The Lunar Chronicles

Genres: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Romance, Fairytale Twists

My Take: Though all Marissa Meyer's books have fantasy elements (magic, superheroes, ghosts), she has written sci-fi (The Lunar Chronicles); fairytale twists (The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless, Gilded); romance (Instant Karma); fantasy (Renegades); comics (Wires and Nerves); anthologies/short stories (Stars Above, Kisses and Curses; Because You Love to Hate Me, Serendipity); and other extras like Cinder's Adventure and the Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book. Marissa Meyer's best books tend to be those which twist original fairytales but I've loved all her books and even those twisting fairytales are each different from one another. She is an inspiration to me (especially since she writes fairytale twists). I love the way she is constantly interacting with her fans whether through giveaways, signings, live events, NaNoWriMo write-ins or Q&As. She is a reader and fan-girl and that bleeds through her writing and care for her own fans.

Leigh Bardugo:

Books I've Read: Shadow and Bone (2012-2014); Six of Crows (2015-2016); King of Scars (2019-2021); Lives of Saints (2020)

Favorite Book or Series: Six of Crows

Genres: Fantasy

My Take: Leigh Bardugo has only really ever written in one world. There is a small group of books like hers. These are the collections of series written in the same world. For example, there are two "Percy Jackson" series (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus) plus others that technically occur in the same world (Trials of Apollo, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, etc.). Each is its own series but all the books come from the same universe and share characters. Similarly, Bardugo's books all occur in the "Grishaverse" but there are three series belonging there (plus extras). I have Bardugo on this list because, despite her books all occurring in the same universe, each is set in a different culture (or more than one) with characters from different backgrounds, and with stories unlike the others in the world. She is a wonderful author with a HUGE talent for worldbuilding and, more than that, her books have been turned into a show which is not only widely successful but also close to the plot of the books. I cannot wait to see what this author does next.

Margaret Owen:

Books I've Read: Little Thieves (2021); Merciful Crows (2019-2020)

Favorite Book of the Series: Little Thieves

Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale Twist

My Take: Owen has two magnificent series. I read Little Thieves (the second book, Painted Devils is scheduled to come out in 2023) first and loved it. I am proud to say I own a copy which I paid full price for. It is one of my favorite books ever and, on top of that, it is an amazing fairytale twist like I have never seen before. I needed more after reading the book and turned to her other series to get it. It is just as good. I remember saying out loud to myself, "this is a great author!" Both books are fantasy and have a similar feel to them. I believe this is brought about by the author's particular story and the things that are important to her (equality being one of those things). Though she doesn't have as wide a range as other authors I've read from, her books are magnificent and she is certainly a "great author" to have accomplished that for two different series.

Gail Carson Levine:

Books I've Read: Ella Enchanted (1997); Fairest (2006); The Fairy's Return and Other Princess Tales (2002);

Favorite Book of the Series: The Fairy's Return and Other Princess Tales

Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale Twists

My Take: Gail Carson Levine's books were some of my favorites as a kid and I still enjoy reading them to this day. Her fairytale twists (or rather, the fairytales she creates) were probably the first books of the sort that I read and thus the first books to get me on the track to writing the fairytale twists I write now. Her books are whimsical with just enough adventure for them to be fun reads for middle-grade and young adult readers and just enough easy characters and plots to read that middle-grade readers and younger can read them. When I was younger (before I read Marissa Meyer and other writers on this list), she was my favorite author.

John Green:

Books I've Read: Paper Towns; The Fault in Our Stars; An Abundance of Katherines

Favorite Book of the Series: The Fault in Our Stars

Genres: Romance

My Take: John Green seems to have a lot of talents. He runs the YouTube channel with his brother which educates students in a fun way. He also writes great romance novels which are widely read. Interestingly, many of these novels have been turned into films. He is like a more modern Nicholas Sparks (around ten of his twenty-two books were made into movies.) So far, I have only read three of Green's books but I have at least one other on my shelves (and "to-read" list). At this point, he has five or so wildly popular books, two of which were made into movies (The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns) and one which became a tv show (Looking for Alaska). Like many others, The Fault in Our Stars was the first of his books I read (and the first-ever book I read with a sex scene in it) but I've since enjoyed others. His books often have topics and scenes that verge on inappropriate and/or controversial but the love stories are enjoyable and the books are the best kind of romances: the ones that make you cry.

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