Top 5 local young adult and middle grade books of 2015

Among Asheville’s vibrant community of young adult and middle grade authors, 2015 was a banner year. It was an honor to see my own middle grade novel, Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight, released alongside these stellar titles:

Sound by Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow Books). Fellow local author Stephanie Perkins praised Duncan’s brand of “kickass, brilliant, feminist science fiction” in Salvage, and in Sound, Duncan continues to mine this vein. “This adventure novel will appeal to readers looking for science fiction with strong female heroines and abundant diversity,” said School Library Journal. (Readers looking for strong, complex female leads may also want to consider Invincible, by Seattle transplant Amy Reed, which won praise from Booklist for a “compelling first-person narrative” of a girl saved from terminal cancer who descends into risk-taking and addiction.)

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (Disney/Hyperion). The Goodreads pick for No. 1 Middle Grade Novel of 2015, this best-seller set at The Biltmore Estate has been described by School Library Journal as “a creepy, suspenseful read that’s not quite as dark as the works of Neil Gaiman or Adam Gidwitz.” (Readers seeking locally set fantasy may also want to check out Laurie McKay’s Villain Keeper, which features a boy from a magical kingdom who finds himself transported to modern-day Asheville.)

The Cage by Megan Shepherd (Balzer + Bray). Having concluded her Victorian gothic Madman’s Daughter trilogy, Shepherd has moved on to a science fiction thriller about teens abducted from Earth and placed in an alien zoo. Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe series, called The Cage “a brilliant, exciting tale of what it’s like to be human, even when all hope is lost.”

The Dragon Lantern by Alan Gratz (Starscape). The second book in Gratz’s steampunk League of Seven series, Lantern continues the adventures of Archie Dent and his band of extraordinary youths as they prepare for the onslaught of the Mangleborn. As Publisher’s Weekly puts it, “Gratz has created an imaginative world with appeal far beyond its immediate middle-grade market.”

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo (Katherine Tegen Books). Lombardo wrote and illustrated this funny and affecting story of a young cat seeking his fortune in Hollywood. “Emotions run high and dramatic moments are many, but Mr. Puffball’s positive attitude and growing understanding that good friends are what matter most light up the pages,” says Publisher’s Weekly.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Doug Gibson
I live in West Asheville. I do a lot of reading. Follow me on Twitter: @dougibson

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

8 thoughts on “Top 5 local young adult and middle grade books of 2015

  1. Constance Lombardo

    I’m thrilled Mr. Puffball was included in this list of awesome local books!!! Thanks, Doug Gibson!

  2. Allen

    Serafina and the Black Cloak is very over-rated and not well-written at all. Buyer beware! The marketing for this one was misleading. My middle schooler was bored by the simplistic plot and inconsistent language. Very unbelievable, even for middle grade books.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.