I don’t read much YA, mostly because I’m not exactly the target market, and while lots of it is pretty obvious genre, the few things I read felt too derivative of “proper” science fiction and fantasy without bringing anything new to the table.
That said occasionally some YA can be quite good, and the first in the four-book Raven cycle is definitive a winner, with compelling characters and an intriguing contemporary fantasy setup that is worth reading alone just for the lore bits.
The first thing that threw me for a loop was how one of the main characters is utterly obsessed with magic, ley lines and finding a buried, sleeping welsh king from the past. In a contemporary setting where magic isn’t out in the open and rather sparse, this felt just weird, especially as none of the other characters called him out on this insanity.
While this made it harder to keep up my suspension of disbelief, the rest is pretty good. I’m not sure how common this kind of thing is in YA, but to me the whole approach to fantasy mixed with YA’s and their typical problems was kind of fresh, as it’s not completely about YA problems and the whole growth-into-adulthood thing, but neither was it just a fantasy quest with a villain and deeper mysteries, but rather a wholesome merger that worked exceedingly well.
Also, there are three more books I can look forward to.