Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Book Lists, Pt. 6

I'm taking a break from doing these lists tomorrow, Christmas (seriously, each of these lists take, like, several hours to put together. I had no idea they'd take so much work--or be so fun to share!), so enjoy and for those of my blogger friends who celebrate, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! (If you don't celebrate, have a good Friday anyway!) I think my Christmas should be quite good this year; will let you all know tomorrow... :)

For Boys
An unfortunately low percentage of all YA books published appeal to most male readers. These here are some of the finest, so that the boys get to experience the awesome that is YA as well. Most of these I've run by my brothers, so they've got actual male backup.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The dystopian, kids-killing-kids-for-a-game element appears to both genders. Even the cover is simple enough that boys won't be embarrassed to carry it around with them. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Bids for CanonicityDystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, Great Protagonists, Use in Classrooms, Give This To Your Parents TooSo You Want to Start Reading YA)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Another dystopian novel, this one features a male protagonist and plenty of action, mystery, and danger to keep readers riveted. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Books Published in 2009Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, Horror/Creepy)

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
If you're mature enough and can't wait for the third Hunger Games novel to hit next summer, check this one out in the meantime. It's got a similar concept, but is much more intense, and yet it is just as hard to look away from all the gore and horror. (also on: Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, Horror/Creepy)

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
You can never go wrong with a Scott Westerfeld book. Never. There is one male and one female protagonist, but their friendship and possible sortofmaybecouldbe romantic attraction is unintrusive and does not overshadow the wonderful fight and survival scenes. (Beautiful Books, Best Bids for Canonicity, Dystopian/Apocalyptic/SteampunkGive This To Your Parents TooSo You Want to Start Reading YA)

Swim the Fly by Don Calame
For the practical jokester who likes contemporary novels. This story of three friends spans a summer of hilarious mishaps and plans gone awry, with unexpectedly happy results. (also on: Middle Grade, HumorMost Overlooked)

Hunger: a Gone Novel by Michael Grant
If you're not tired of dystopian novels, the Gone series is a great one to pick up. What happens when a bunch of kids are left to their own devices in a zone where strange supernatural things happen? Find out. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Sequels of 2009Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk)

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff
Andrew's voice is great, and this book will surely provide more than a few chuckles as readers empathize with Andrew's struggle to find a place for his heavy self. (also on: Feel-Good Contemporary Realism, Humor)

Genesis by Bernard Beckett
A thought-provoking, mind-exploding read about a civilization eerily similar to our own. It's a short book, so you can read it in a few hours, and then spend the next couple of days trying to talk it all out. (also on: Thought-Provoking ReadsDystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, Use in Classrooms, Smart ReadsFor Older TeensSomething Different)

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Sutter is a little like a modern-day Holden Caulfield, except, you know, less whiny and more likable. For those who like their characters irreverent, deeply flawed, but still irresistible, check him out! (also on: Humor, Great Protagonists, Smart ReadsMost OverlookedSomething Different)

Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger
Another story about three friends, only they're trying to raise enough money so that they don't actually have to have a real summer job. You won't believe the lengths to which they will go, but middle school boys will get a kick out of them. (also on: Middle Grade)

Not a genre that I read very much, but these will make you squirming, cringing, looking over your shoulder, and starting at little sounds.

The Devouring series by Simon Holt
Legend goes that there is a "race" of evil spirits that attempt to possess you when you are most frightened. A little bit like Goosebumps for the older set. It's not a bad read if you want to be frightened.

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
Alexis begins to think that her younger sister is being possessed. There are some things about their old house that just don't feel right...and what is up with the creepy dolls? Wonderfully unique and addicting.

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
See above! This one is definitely not for the weak-stomached. *grins* (also on: Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, For Boys)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Dude, the Grievers are pretty darn scary. Also... see above! (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Books Published in 2009Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, For Boys)

The Waking: Dreams of the Dead by Thomas Randall
A twist on what we know of vampires, set in Japan and infused with its rich culture.

Great Protagonists
These books contain some of the best protagonists I've read this year. You'll either want to be them, or you'll want to fall in love with them.

Yelena from Poison Study by Maria Snyder
Yelena is, simply put, awesome. Thrust in a terrible situation, she nevertheless uses her smarts, skills, and bravery to carve an identity for herself out of the oppression. You'll gasp and thrill at everything she gets into, and part of you will want to be her. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, For Fantasy/Magic Lovers, Romance, Night-In Reads, If You Can't Get Enough of Vampire Academy, Best Bids for CanonicitySmart ReadsMost Crush-Worthy Love InterestsGive This To Your Parents Too)

Rose from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Rose is far from a damsel in distress, needing to be rescued by the Big and Beautiful Male Protector. She is unafraid to kick butt, and that is in fact perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this series, and why her romance with Dimitri is so much more appealing and balanced. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, For Paranormal Lovers, Romance, If You Can't Get Enough of Vampire AcademySmart ReadsTearjerkers)

Nick from The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Okay, Nick is far from the nice guy. In fact, you'd rather forget all about him if that were possible, since you can tell he's nothing but trouble. But you simply cannot stay away from him. He's got an attitude and demons haunting him, but his loyalty to his brother is unfailing, and it's amazing how we all like him despite his often soulless tendencies. (also on: Best Books Published in 2009, Best Books By a Debut YA Author, If You Can't Get Enough of Vampire Academy)

Sutter from The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
One of the strongest voice-driven YA books out there. We are immersed completely in Sutter's thinking, even if we may disagree with a lot of his values. But because of our closeness to him via his voice, we are able to better understand why he acts that way, and even like him as a result. (also on: Humor, For Boys, Smart ReadsMost OverlookedSomething Different)

Savannah from Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman
Another book with a great voice. There is a distinctly but not cloying Southern feel to the whole story, and even though she may get hung up over Jackson way too often, you still can't help but feel as if her feelings for him are justified. (also on: Best Books By a Debut YA Author)

Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Oh man. How do I begin to list the ways in which Katniss is a great protagonist? She's feisty and socially awkward, but she's also powerfully determined, resourceful, and determined to survive. You've got to admire someone with her spirit in such a situation as she is in. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Bids for CanonicityDystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, For Boys, Use in Classrooms, Give This To Your Parents TooSo You Want to Start Reading YA)

Morgan from The Sky Always Hears Me, and the Hills Don’t Mind by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Morgan's another irreverent yet utterly appealing character. She has her quirky solitary tendencies but she's also interesting around people, so that we never tire of spending time with her--not when she's making up so many great and odd fortunes! (also on: Best Books By a Debut YA AuthorSmart ReadsMost Overlooked)

Cassie from Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Cassie is a modern heroine: she's smart, capable, and stubborn. She's also a timeless heroine: reluctantly but deeply romantic, loyal, and brave in the face of seemingly impossible adversaries. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Books Published in 2009, For Fantasy/Magic Lovers, Retellings, Romance, Night-In Reads, Beautiful WritingSmart ReadsMost Crush-Worthy Love InterestsSo You Want to Start Reading YA)

Gianna from The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner
Seventh-grader Gianna will make everyone fall at her feet, with her relatable voice, worries over her family, and perpetual inability to stay on top of her science project. (also on: Middle Grade, Best Covers)

D.J. from Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Okay, so maybe at this point you're sick and tired of D.J.'s low self-confidence, her self-deprecation, and her inability to speak up for herself in social situations. But it's also her absolutely true tomboyishness that keeps us attached to her and coming back to see her grow and mature. (also on: Best Sequels of 2009, Night-In ReadsMost Crush-Worthy Love Interests)

Hanna from Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Hanna is special, and not just because she's got bipolar disorder. She's wonderfully removed from typical high school social angst, which allows us to concentrate on her and her interactions with those who matter around her. (also on: If You Can't Get Enough of Vampire AcademySmart ReadsSomething Different)

Use in Classrooms
Who says YA wouldn't be great books to read as a class? Here are just a few that may provide hours' worth of discussion (though I haven't yet figured out how they might be able to tie in with great classics; but maybe they can be used in, like, History classes, or Ethics classes?)

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
I really wish this could be a must-read for all teen girls, especially those living in high-risk environments. It would help so much if they knew they weren't the only ones going through what they're going through, like Kara, and I think more adults could stand to have their eyes opened to the all-too-real dark side of suburbia. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Books Published in 2009, Thought-Provoking Reads)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Well, you might just want to ask Adele how she used this in her class, lol. Interesting discussions about government control, the horrifying future possibilities of reality TV, and the role of violence in control. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Bids for CanonicityDystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, For Boys, Great Protagonists, Give This To Your Parents TooSo You Want to Start Reading YA)

Fire by Kristin Cashore
This one has a much more distinctly feminist angle than Graceling, and it's a great one. Why is there a difference in the way male vs. female beauty is accepted, viewed, and used? What is the role of beautiful women in society, and how is beauty so hated? (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, Best Books Published in 2009, Best Sequels of 2009, For Fantasy/Magic LoversSmart Reads)

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Yes, it's an entertaining and terrifically written vampire society story, but it also has thought-provoking class issues. Why must the dhampir be willing to give their lives to protect the Moroi, and why do the Moroi not use their considerable magic powers? All interesting questioned that will hopefully be further explored in future books in the series. It must. I mean, how can it not be? It's so prevalent in the books! If there's not a complete usurpation of the vampire caste system by the time the series ends, I will be shocked and greatly disappointed. (also on: Best Books I Read in 2009, For Paranormal Lovers, Romance, If You Can't Get Enough of Vampire AcademySmart ReadsTearjerkers)

Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Questions about what might happen if artificial intelligence eventually overpowers humans have always been around. Genesis brings these issues up, along with shocking actions. You will not be able to stop debating this. (also on: Thought-Provoking Reads, Dystopian/Apocalyptic/Steampunk, For Boys, Smart ReadsFor Older TeensSomething Different)

Best Covers
Yes, these are only of the books that I read in 2009, and they're my taste, which, admittedly, I have not seen in very many other places. However, aren't all of these covers undeniably beautiful? Would they compel YOU to take an interest in the book?


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Ash by Malinda Lo
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
Willow by Julia Hoban
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner
Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott


Go back to 2009 Book Lists, Pt. 1 // Pt. 2 // Pt. 3 // Pt. 4 // Pt. 5 // Pt. 7 // Pt. 8

Back to the Master List of 2009 book lists!


  1. Thank you for the list for books for boys!!!! Finding books for my boy students can be a challenge. You're list gave me some new one!

    And I've got to read The Devouring. I've heard it's really creepy!

  2. My sister used The Hunger Games in her classroom this fall - and the kids absolutely loved it. She also used a chapter of The Graveyard Book to wonderful results. Nice lists!

  3. I absolutely admire the amount of efforts you are going to in order to write all these lists- they're fantastic!

    I think the cover of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was also a great one for this year- its definitely my favourite!

  4. Again, love the lists - and thanks for all the time you spent on them!
    Although I do agree with Lily - SHIVER should've been on your covers list! And the UK/AUS/NZ cover for FIRE by Kristin Cashore.

  5. These are great lists Steph. I really enjoyed a lot of things books. I think I'd have to have Fire on my list of favorite protagonist as well as Katsa :D

  6. Hey, Steph! Thanks for the shout-out. As a list addict myself, I love being included in them. ;-)

  7. These are all wonderful lists! I totally agree on the ocvers. They are also my taste and each one got my attention from the first time I saw them. Excellent choices!


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