YA Wordsmiths

There are lots of elements that make a good story: characters so real you cry and laugh and swoon over them, a plot that keeps you up past bedtime or makes you late because you can’t stop turning pages, a setting so real and transportive it feels like another character. But today I’m focusing on language. My new YA project is a bit different in voice than the Cahill Witch Chronicles. Its protagonist, Ivy, is whimsical and imaginative – despite her best attempts to be seen as sensible – and uses more figurative language. I turned to Twitter & Facebook this week and asked: Who are your favorite YA wordsmiths – masters of beautiful language? These are some of the names who came up most frequently. (The asterisk means I’ve read at least some of the author’s work and agree.)

Laini Taylor* (DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE is so beautiful)

Maggie Stiefvater* (THE RAVEN BOYS is my favorite I’ve read, but I hear THE SCORPIO RACES is also gorgeous)

Neil Gaiman* (THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is my favorite of his that I’ve read)

Laurie Halse Anderson* (WINTERGIRLS is my favorite)

Holly Black*

Tahereh Mafi

Lauren Oliver

Rainbow Rowell

Nova Ren Suma*

John Corey Whaley

Libba Bray*

Jandy Nelson* (THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is an all-time fave)

Sarah McCarry

Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Lucy Christopher

Melina Marchetta

David Levithan*

Catherynne Valente

Brenna Yovanoff*

Victoria Schwab* (I loved THE NEAR WITCH)

AS King

Nina LaCour

Marie Rutkowski

Franny Billingsley* (CHIME is another all-time fave)

and I’d also add some of my personal favorites:

Veronica Rossi (UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy)


Erin Bow (PLAIN KATE and the recent SORROW’S KNOT)

Carrie Ryan (THE FOREST OF HANDS & TEETH series)

Lauren DeStefano (PERFECT RUIN and the WITHER series)

What do you think? Any names or specific titles you’d add to the list? Are any of these your favorites too?

11 Responses

  1. sarahappifanie

    I really enjoyed Maggie's Shiver series and her Lament series but she hit a whole new level of awesome with The Raven Boys. Wow.

    I'm rereading Veronica Rossi's UtNS series now and yeah, she's great. The different voices are so obvious and perfect. I wish more people knew and loved The Forest of Hands & Teeth series!

    1. I totally agree about Maggie's books – I liked Ballad (Lament #2) a lot, and I enjoyed Linger & Forever because I was a huge Cole/Isobel fangirl (I am SO EXCITED for Sinner!) but I really really loved Raven Boys. I hear Scorpio Races is also absolutely lovely!

      1. sarahappifanie

        Yeah, I normally don't like fairy/faerie/whatever books, but hers were good. I read the first page of the Sinner preview and decided to stop reading – these teases just make me angry 😀 All or nothing! Scorpio Races is lovely – I don't own either Raven Cycle book yet but I will.

  2. tizzypotts

    As soon as I started to read this I thought 'Laini Taylor', so I was pleased to see she was top of the list. I also agree with Lauren DeStefano and Maggie Steifvater, absolutely gorgeous writers!

  3. estripp

    I would recommend AG Howard, most definitely! She wrote Splintered and Unhinged. A reworking of Alice in Wonderland that is absolutely beautiful and haunting and scary!__And Beth Revis. I just finished Across the Universe. Holy crap it was good!

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