Friday, January 17, 2014

BEST OF 2013: Teen Books

Okay, so there are still TONS of probably awesome 2013 YA books that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, though over the last several weeks I sure have done my best to read EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. Some of the promising titles I still have yet to read include Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax. It sounds like I haven't been doing much reading, doesn't it? But really, for every book that made our list there are several more professional  reviewer favorites that just missed out. These include high profile titles by Patrick Ness, Marcus Sedgwick, Andrew Smith, and Maggie Stiefvater (my reviews are soon to come though!).

As for those titles I haven't yet gotten around to reading... Well, they're still on my ever-growing TBR and any title I feel should have been on this list will be added in later updates. So with that said, these are the best teen books of 2013 that we've read  (so far).

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry*
In an alternate world that evokes the New England Puritan settlements of the 17th century, 18-year-old Judith is an outcast in her community and even in her own family. She disappeared without a trace at the age of 14 only to mysteriously reappear at 16 physically mutilated and unable to share what happened to her. Only now that her community is under attack, Judith must find the courage to face the past and make her silenced voice heard in a desperate bid to save them all. Poetic and gorgeously written, this is a stunning mystery, told entirely through Judith's imagined conversations with the boy she has loved since childhood.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Both intimate and epic in scale, these companion novels tell the story of China's Boxer Rebellion from opposing viewpoints.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Strange, beautiful, and unsettling, this is a story is told from two directions. In the present, Win is a weird, bitter loner at a Vermont boarding school who believes there is a wolf inside him, struggling to break free. When a dead body is found in the woods, he believes he is responsible. In the past, Win is ten years old and goes by a different name—Drew. Drew looks up to his older brother and loves his little sister, but it's clear there is something wrong in Drew's world. Slowly, the two separate narratives merge; along the way, the reader becomes completely immersed in piecing together the mystery of Win and his past.
Read Tracy's Review

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Tana woke up surrounded by carnage. While she was passed out in the bathroom, vampires savaged and killed her fellow partiers—all except her ex-boyfriend, now infected, and a mysterious, chained vampire boy who’s sanity is in question. With nowhere else to go, the three uneasy allies travel to the nearest Coldtown, where vampires, the infected, and desperate wannabes are segregated from the outside world. Tana is determined to hang on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, but Coldtown is even more dangerous than she expects. A fascinating world and wonderfully flawed, intriguing characters highlight this layered story of guilt and vengeance, with a bit of love and redemption thrown in for balance. Still, this is not your average teen vampire romance, where black and white are clear and everything is wrapped up neatly. Chilling and wholly original, this is a vampire novel with a difference.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Park thinks the crazy-haired, oddly dressed new girl on his bus looks like a victim waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Eleanor is too concerned with her problems at home to think much about the "stupid Asian kid" who reluctantly scoots over to share his seat, cursing under his breath all the while. For days they share the seat in awkward, sometimes hostile silence. But then... Something changes. Soon, Eleanor is surreptitiously reading Watchmen comics over his shoulder and Park is making Eleanor mix tapes of his favorite bands. Slowly, tentatively a friendship develops and then friendship becomes something more. But love doesn't solve everything. Together they must face disapproving parents, mean-spirited classmates, and the dark truths about her family that Eleanor never wants Park to discover.
Read Tracy's Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
A quiet introvert whose passion is writing fan fiction faces her first year of college in this captivating novel about growing up without letting go of the things you love.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Blending a contemporary mindset with the heart of classic fairy tales, this is the atmospheric tale of a young man who can speak to ghosts—specifically, Jacob Grimm himself—and finds himself in a dark, sort-of fairy tale of his own.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
After falling for a mysterious Dutch boy after a whirlwind day in Paris, a young American woman wakes up alone and retreats home, never knowing what truly happened. But over the course of her freshman year of college—with a little help from Shakespeare and some unexpected friendships—she finds the courage to take risks and follow her heart, in love and life.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Mila has a special ability to observe beneath the surface; she reads people and her surroundings to solve real-life puzzles. So when her father’s best friend turns up missing, Mila is determined to solve the mystery of his disappearance. The result is a secret-revealing journey through upstate New York with her father, where she is presented with clues that don’t quite add up and learns complicated truths about mistakes, compromise, and consequence. Mila is a fascinating, vibrantly realized character, and this novel presents an intriguing, cerebral mystery full of realistic suspense.

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Gerald is very, very angry. It seems like he has always been angry, and there are three seasons worth of reality TV to prove it. Of course, the nanny show that made Gerald infamous when he was five years old showed very little of what actually went on in his house. Now seventeen, Gerald's just trying to keep it together so he doesn't end up dead or in jail. Then he meets Hannah, who has a screwed up homelife herself. Gerald's is a unflinchingly honest voice, full of anger, insight, and pain, and his story is as riveting as any reality show. With her trademark combination of magical realism and gritty drama, King's latest offering is another winner.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
In this wildly inventive fantasy set in an alternate version of America, a special cadre of "Rithmatists" train from the age of eight to protect the American Isles from an infestation of Wild  Chalkings, drawings which have the ability to interact in the three-dimensional world and even kill. Sixteen-year-old Joel, a student at an elite school with a special program for Rithmatists, longs to be part of that privileged group, but he already missed his chance. First of a new series.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
In this gripping companion novel to Code Name Verity, a young American pilot becomes a prisoner at Ravensbrück, a German concentration camp. Although beloved and controversial characters from Verity are revisited, this novel belongs entirely to Rose and her fellow prisoners. It's a different story entirely—we know early on Rose survives to tell her story—but the journey is equally tense and dramatic.

The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf
As if romantic tangles, school pressure, and family drama weren't enough to deal with, Izzy also has to cope with panic attacks and hypochondria. With self-deprecating humor and wry observations, Izzy offers up a realistic coming of age tale with depth. One reviewer dubbed it "Woody Allen for the teenage set." This is the only title on our list I haven't read myself, but one of our circulation clerks highly recommends it!

So, that's our list so far. What titles would you add to your own best-of-the-year list?


Diana Roederer said...

"All The Truth That's In Me" is one of my favorite books. I love how Judith learns how to talk again and speaks up for herself.

Tracy said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Diana! It's definitely once of my recent favorites as well!

Mary Gibbons said...

The "Coldest girl in cold town" was a really good book.

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