It's kind of stupid but as a kid I freaked out when I saw these on at the book fairs at school...
Oh shit I read those. Gaiden for what it was, was actually kind of decent.
As far as obscure goes (still love Redwall and great to see others talking about it), I remember this odd book called Welcome to the Ark that I thought was pretty great and deep as a 7th grader.
Read a summary. It sounds dumb when I type it out, haha. But it was interesting.
Not sure how obscure they were, but I loved the Strange Matter series. Think Goosebumps, but slightly darker. It didn't last very long, but I have fond memories of it. Each one had some 90s-tastic awful CG art on the cover (and, if I remember correctly, a gallery of related art in the back pages).
I have no idea if they hold up to adult scrutiny as well as, say, Animorphs, though. Like Goosebumps, I imagine that it's best to remember them as being better than they probably really were. Still, some of that art was wonderfully terrible.
I grew up with a much older half-brother who had moved out of home by the time I turned 8, so I mostly just tried to read all his hard sci-fi and fantasy, a lot of Ray Bradbury and Arthur C Clarke, I don't think I got through a single one of them fully. I'd say as far as the impression it had on me? Magician by Raymond E. Feist
I remember my mom picking up this book at a yard sale or something for $.50 and giving it to me for some random reason. I started reading it and got obsessed with it and couldn't stop. I think it was one of the first books I ever read. No idea what it was called or who wrote it, but it was about this kid who lived on the moon and his dad was a diplomat to earth. He came with his dad to earth and because he had lived his whole life on the moon he couldn't adjust to earth gravity and was confined to a wheelchair. So after awhile he went and lived in this underwater city where he got to scuba dive all the time and because being under water was like moon gravity he could move and wasn't confined to a wheelchair.
Once he got down there I can't remember what happened, but terrorists or something tried to blow up the city and he had to stop them or some such thing? The rest is kind of a blur.
Pretty much all the other books I read were grown up books and I loved them because they felt like they were not talking down to me like other books meant for people my age did. Tommyknockers, Pet Cemetery, Les Miserable, Truth Machine, The Lion of Ireland, and His Majesty's Starship are all books that made me fall in love with reading.
Because I'm hella old (you can tell because no one who is young and "with it" uses "hella" [much less '"with it"']) mine are likely obscure simply because they're, well, old...
I read a lot of the Hardy Boys books (a mixture of the original and revised versions [which removed racism, flaunting of the law as well as some violence] - heck they might have even been revised a second time to bring them more up to date when the TV series ran in the 80s, but I don't know for sure...)... but they were pretty terrible so I quickly graduated to the Ellery Queen books (which aren't YA, but whatever - the "Challenge to the Reader" is the best thing ever)...
My first SF/Fantasy stuff was the Tripods Trilogy (which I see now got a fourth book 20 years after the third...)... I moved quickly on to Heinlein (and discovered that his stuff falls off a cliff after SiaSL), Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Anderson, Pohl...
I loved the Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthologies (frankly i think that my favorite type of fiction is the short story - as long as you don't bore the reader [and even sometimes if you do] a novel gives you enough space to fumble your way to a coherent story - but you gotta be good to cram all you need in a small space)... Lots of great writers: Dahl, Poe, Stephenson, Doyle, etc., etc...
Oh and I also fondly remember Half Magic...
Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. It's not especially obscure. It was popular enough to have a Disney animated version of the second book The Black Cauldron. Granted the movie was super expensive to make and flopped at the box office.
Where the Red Fern Grows
Oh my god the feels. So many feels. （ つ﹏╰）
I dig the Redwall love going on here :D
The most I remember is the Pendragon books, it lasted most of my entire teenage years(2001 - 2010), so I kinda grew with them, good books, but I feel like the author ran out of ideas by book 8. The villain became a decidedly less interesting character, more cliched, although that may have just been me getting better standards.
Loved the Pendragon series, though I definitely agree with you that Saint Dane became rather dull near the end of it. Hobey ho!
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