Blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, Avatar and Harry Potter have given many teens a taste for the fantasy genre. Action-packed films featuring strong male heroes have a particular appeal for teen boys, who are notoriously hard to choose books for.
To help them make the jump from film to books, try these bestselling fantasy titles.
Teens who loved Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief will enjoy Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing trilogy. This popular Canadian series is about a runt of a bat who struggles to find his place in his colony. When evil threatens, Shade must battle the bats' ancient enemy in order to rejoin his family. Much like Percy Jackson, Shade is an outcast who proves his mettle by surviving a series of deadly challenges.
Boys who prefer a human protagonist should try Charlie Fletcher's Stoneheart series. When a boy accidentally awakens a malevolent statue in London, he and his supernatural companions must battle a bewildering array of similarly awakened creatures.
For a quick read, pick up the wildly popular Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. Set in fictionalized medieval Britain, the orphan Will is apprenticed to the Rangers. The Rangers fight to protect the kingdom from its enemies but use subterfuge and guile instead of brute force to achieve their goals. There are lots of great friendships, strong themes of good vs. evil and a healthy dose of humour and action.
Other great picks for younger teen boys are D.J. MacHale's Pendragon series, set in fictionalized Britain, Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls and the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld. From steampunk to Arthurian legends, there are fantasy tales to suit every younger reader on the library shelves.
Older teen boys may be ready for more complex books featuring nuanced themes and characters. Christopher Paolini's Eragon is the first book in the bestselling Inheritance Cycle. Readers follow the 15-year-old Eragon from his humble beginnings as a farm boy to his destiny as the last of the dragon riders. Eragon is a long, complex story heavily inspired by Lord of the Rings. Teens who love epic battles between good and evil will identify with the heroic Eragon and be drawn into the personal sacrifices he must make for the greater good. These are lengthy books that appeal to strong readers and have enormous crossover appeal for adults. Less confident readers may be inspired to read them after watching the feature film based on the series.
Every fantasy reader should try Anne McCaffrey's classic Pern series. On the planet Pern, dragons form a unique, lifelong connection to their rider. Throughout the series, dragon riders must battle the hostile native environment so that humanity can survive on an alien world. Although this is a fantasy series, later books slip in tantalizing science fiction details about the history of Pern, starting with a frantic flight from a doomed Earth. Readers can dive into the series with any title but boys may prefer to start with Dragondrums: Piemur is a strong male protagonist who must rely on his wits when he becomes a secret apprentice to the Masterharper of Pern.
Older teen readers who love the intricately plotted world of Pern may want to move onto the similarly detailed alternate worlds of R.A. Salvatore and Robert Jordan.
There are many excellent fantasy titles available and these are just a few recommendations with special appeal for teen boys. For many more suggestions, visit your local public library.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Vicki Donoghue works at Port Moody Public Library.