This was a tricky one. Not because I don't enjoy young adult books, but because when I look at my Favorite Books with the YA genre in mind, I realize that, Oh Wow, I have lots of YA in here...
(I would segue here into some proclamation about how this proves that I am SO not an adult, but when it comes to books, I can't really make that claim - two of my recent-ish favorite reading experiences have been The Brothers Karamazov and Memoirs of a Geisha. But then, who makes the rules about what age you have to be to enjoy those kinds of books? I first read Memoirs, as I'm sure many people did, when the movie came out. That was in 2005, and I was 15; a Young Adult by any standards.
Anyway...I think we'll save the age-appropriate-books rant for another time.)
After a great deal of dispute with myself and the internet (what do you mean, Phantom Tollbooth is a children's book? That s*** is deep!), I finally settled on Mara, Daughter of the Nile.
|Man, this brings back memories.|
Please note that, due to the non-cartoony cover art, I always thought this was a grownup book. Had it been marketed to me as YA, I probably wouldn't have read it. Because I
I first read this book because I saw my Mom reading it, and once I got over the shock of my mother, a real live grownup, reading a novel that didn't look like it was about government espionage and/or grisly murders (I blame my father and his reading tastes for my impression of Things Grownups Like), I stole it from her purse, or bedside table, or wherever it was, and read it in an afternoon. I loved it (fun fact, I would later have the same experience with The Queen of Attolia, another book, and author, that I only discovered because my Mom has great taste in books).
I had been on a Fantasy And Nothing But kick for a while at that point, but Mara was someone I made friends with instantly. She had ambition, attitude, a foul mouth (but, y'know, all the cuss words were in Old Egyptian or whatever, so that made it OK), and a shamelessly opportunistic streak. As the story (which I won't spoil for you) went on, she also became a double agent, just like my TV heroine obsession at the time, Sydney Bristow from Alias.
Also, take another look at that cover art: girl had some big hair going on. We were clearly soulmates.
I recommend Mara if you like Egypt, strong heroines, spies, espionage, and possibly murders? (I think it has one or two of those. It's possible. I may be misremembering.) It's really good. And, apparently, YA.