Saturday, January 21, 2012

Best of 2011: Young Adult/Teen Books

2011 was a great year for YA literature! In fact, we had a hard time narrowing down the list for our favorite books of the year. I can hardly believe that some of my favorite teen fiction authors didn't make the cut even though they had great books out this year that I highly recommend (ahem... Sara Zarr). But we had to draw the line somewhere.

Fiction Picks:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cas travels from town to town with his mother and their cat Tybalt, killing homicidal ghosts and secretly preparing himself for the day that he will confront the ghost that killed his father. Now he has a new ghost in his sights: Anna Dressed in Blood. But something about her is different than the others. This is a creepy, vividly written tale with dynamic, complex characters.
Tracy's Review.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
After a supervolcano erupts under Yellowstone, 15-year-old Alex, who has been left home alone for the weekend, treks through a dangerous landscape of ash and snow, trying to survive both nature and a new world in which all the old rules of civilization have vanished.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
When an airplane full of beauty queens from the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashes on a remote island, the surviving girls are forced to push themselves to the limits in order to survive. This is a quirky, witty read filled with biting humor and hilarious "commercial breaks."
Lucinda's Review.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
It is 1941 and Stalin's reign of terror is in full dominion, but fifteen-year-old Lina  is stunned when Soviet officers invade her home to arrest her family and deport them from Lithuania to Siberia, giving them only twenty minutes to pack a few belongings. This is only the beginning of Lina's journey, filled with deplorable, life-threatening conditions. Both beautiful and powerful, this is a truly lovely book reminiscent of like Hautzig's The Endless Steppe and even The Diary of Ann Frank.
Tracy's Review.

Chime by Franny Billingsley
This darkly romantic historical fantasy is written in gorgeous, mesmerizing prose and features an unforgettable narrator in Briony, a 17-year-old who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes in the town of Swampsea. She blames herself for her stepmother's death and her twin sister's brain injury. But then a charming young man enters her life and exposes secrets even Briony cannot guess at.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
This fantasy—artfully grounded in the real, macabre city of Prague—tells the story of a 17-year-old raised by four mysterious chimaera, beings made up of disparate human and animal parts. Karou leads two separate lives: art student and errand girl to the Wishmonger, who takes teeth in exchange for wishes. Then she meets a vengeful angel determined to destroy the chimaera, and Karou knows she must uncover the secrets behind Brimstone's work and those of her past.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In a not-too-distant future Chicago, everyone is divided into five factions with five different belief systems. Now that she is sixteen, it is finally time for Beatrice Prior to choose her permanent faction. But her choice won’t be easy. When she takes her aptitude tests, Beatrice learns that she is a Divergent, someone who does not fit easily into any of the predetermined classifications and whose very existence threatens her society. Smart, gutsy characters and a sweet romance subplot add depth to this addictively fast-paced read.
Tracy's Review.

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
Six months after the events in Rot & Ruin, Tom, Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Lou Chang leave Mountainside in search of a better life. Upon returning to the lawless land of the great Rot and Ruin, they are pursued by murderers and the living dead and face the horrors of Gameland—where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits.
Lucinda & Tracy's Dual Review.

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Two brothers, kidnapped by their mentally unstable father a decade, get a taste of a normal life after seventeen-year-old Sam befriends a preacher's daughter. But what will happen when their criminal father discovers their secret? Intertwining a gripping survival story with a sweet tale of first love, this is a memorable, heartfelt story about the connections that people make and the brief intersections that can change your life
Tracy's Review.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Every November, someone dies in the Scorpio Races, a dangerous horse race unlike any other because the horses are unlike any others. The water horses, both terrible and beautiful, rise from the ocean every autumn to terrorize the people of Thisby. And every year, the people—both awed and afraid—prepare for the traditional race along the beach. This year, Puck—the first female to ever enter the Scorpio Races—is determined to win even though it means taking on the four-time champion, Sean Kendrick. This is an eerie, romantic adventure that is completely unlike anything else you’ve read.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppell
Science, history and a spot of horror merge in this gripping gothic prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. At 16, Victor Frankenstein already shows signs of the “mad scientist” he will become: he’s obsessive, temperamental, and wildly jealous of his twin brother Konrad. But when Konrad becomes dangerously ill, Victor will do anything—even defy his beloved father to investigate the forbidden practice of alchemy—to save his brother.

Where She Went by Gayle Foreman
Love, heartache, betrayal, and music intertwine in this emotional sequel to If I Stay. Told from Adam’s perspective, it details his breakdown after Mia dumps him in favor of a future in New York. Now, stranded in in New York in between flights, Adam decides it is time to confront the girl he can’t get over. The majority of the story takes place in a single day, and readers experience each moment right along with Adam, unsure how it will end until the very last page.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Cullen Witter is a sardonic, imaginative 17-year-old who fills his journal with the titles of books he might someday write and thinks about leaving his Arkansas hometown, a “black hole” that no one can escape for long. Then the town becomes obsessed with the sighting of a supposedly extinct woodpecker and his younger brother Gabriel vanishes without a trace. Juxtaposed with Cullen’s story is the seemingly unrelated tale of a teenage missionary who travels to Ethiopia and back. Cullen’s is a wry, compelling narrative, interwoven with 3rd person accounts that seem unrelated at first but gradually coalesce into a single story with unexpected connections.

Winter Town by Stephen Emond
Evan and Lucy, childhood best friends who now see each other only during Christmas break, struggle to preserve their relationship in the midst of family expectations, bad choices, and a budding romance. Interspersed throughout are both realistic sketches and drawings of the comic strip that Evan and Lucy create together. This is a real and honest look at relationships, growing up, and self-discovery.

You Against Me by Jenny Downham
When Mikey’s 15-year-old sister accuses an older boy of rape and refuses to leave their apartment, he’s not 100% sure he believes the story but feels obligated to avenge her. He’s also dealing with work, an alcoholic mom, and a confused 7-year-old sister. Meanwhile, Ellie wants more than anything to believe that her brother Tom is innocent, and her wealthy parents have launched a full-scale campaign to clear her brother’s name. Then Mikey and Ellie meet. This is a suspenseful, unforgettable novel with strongly drawn characters and complicated emotions.


Nonfiction Picks:

It Gets Better edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
This collection of essays and testimonials from celebrities, political leaders, and everyday people stresses to gay and lesbian teens that they can overcome bullying and lead fulfilling lives.

2 comments:

Diana Roederer said...

"Divergent" is great and I'm not just saying that because it's a movie now- I haven't even seen the movie. Tris and Four(why do people call him Tobias when he changed his name to Four?) make a great couple. "Divergent" is a great dystopian books for teens. It has good morals and doesn't put a focus on sex like most books published today,

Tracy said...

I loved it too, especially the chemistry between Four & Tris and the development of Tris's character and her growing inner strength.

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