Escapism For Smart Teens
Close-minded mortals still make the mistaken assumption that YA lit is for lesser intelligences. We know better. Here are some books that can prove these naysayers wrong!
The Agency series by Y. S. Lee
This historical fiction series is a lovely balance of action, mystery, and romance. Ying's amazing depictions of Victorian London--something she knows a lot about, seeing as she has a Ph.D. on it and all--will appeal to the historical Anglophile in all of us. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Winter Reads, Mysteries, Historical Fiction, POC, Different Reads, YA for Adults)
Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook
What happens when you combine smarts with our inner vindictive selves? A romping, totally not-dumb guilty pleasure read that will keep you flipping pages. (also on: Retellings, Feel-Good Reads, Guilty Pleasures)
Summer series by Jenny Han
Jenny Han gives Sarah Dessen a run for her money. Oh well, they can both reside happily in my universe! The Summer series sounds like it will be a total cliche: there are dramatically emotional moments, death, family tensions, and the ubiquitous love triangle. Instead, it's one of my favorite series, and that's a tribute to how well Jenny Han writes us into Belly's troubles. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Quiet Gems, Love Triangles)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Everyone loves a wonderfully swoony contemporary romance, and Stephanie Perkins delivers it in spades. Also, John Green adores this book, and no one dares call John Green a dunce! (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Night-In Reads, Winter Reads, Feel-Good Reads, Nice Guys, Boarding School Settings, Books with Athletes, Diverse Reads)
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
YA dystopian lit that's a genuine criticism of some of some modern issues, instead of being merely gratuitous action and outrageous scenarios, really doesn't get better than this debut novel. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Books Published in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Diverse Reads, Important Themes)
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
An entertaining paranormal love triangle, fantastic world-building without becoming information overload... veteran adult speculative fiction author Jeri Smith-Ready can do no wrong, it seems! (also on: Paranormal, Best Debuts of 2010, Love Triangles, Wonderful Worlds)
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
HOLY COW I wish I knew how Catherine Fisher's mind works, because Incarceron is one heck of an impressive achievement. It's a dark fantasy with dystopic/steampunk/historical feels, and--perhaps unfortunately--each chapter ends in such a way that you just have to keep on reading, to find out what happens. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Fantasy, Best Books Published in 2010, YA for Adults)
One for the Awards
If these books don't get professional recognition in some form or another, then things are not quite right in the awards committee world.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
This quietly poignant tale of a boy with Asperger's learning how to deal with the real world is simultaneously heart-breaking and heartwarming. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Thought-Provoking Reads, Quiet Gems, Memorable Protagonists, POC, YA for Adults)
Nothing by Janne Teller
The Danish have fantastic taste in literature, obviously, to make this eerie dystopian novel a bestseller in its original language. It really deserves more recognition here in the US. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Books Published in 2010, Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Best Villains, Different Reads, YA for Adults)
This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
This is a beautifully written book that's at times painful to read, because it's just so intimately frightening. (also on: Thought-Provoking Reads, Horror/Suspense/Thriller, Best Villains, Diverse Reads)
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The writing style is relatively generic, but it's a powerful approach to the important issue of date rape and its effects on the victim. Probably the most accessible book on date rape written for teens that I've ever read. (also on: Thought-Provoking Reads, Boarding School Settings, Important Themes)
Hush by Eishes Chayil
An incredibly detailed and atmospheric read with a serious theme that's lightened by some surprisingly humorous and touching moments. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Thought-Provoking Reads, Families, Diverse Reads, Important Themes, Canonicity)
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
A beautifully written exploration of life after a devastating loss, touching upon love, family, and the never-ending healing power of music and nature. (also on: On Grief, Nice Guys, Families, Books with Artists)
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
An incredible research accomplishment, featuring a memorably conflicted protagonist. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, On Grief, Historical Fiction, Diverse Reads, YA for Adults)
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
You thought abduction was black and white? Lucy Christopher--and Ty--challenge you to think twice about it. (also on: Summer Reads, Quiet Gems, Best Villains, Beautiful Covers)
These books deserve to be read for decades to come, if they haven't already reached that status yet.
The Hunger Games trilogy rightfully deserves a spot in the YA lit canon, I think. It's an unsurpassable combination of action and discussion-provoking themes. (also on: Best Books Published in 2010, Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Memorable Protagonists)
Hush by Eishes Chayil
A book this important, this intricately written, deserves a long, long shelf life. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Debuts of 2010, Thought-Provoking Reads, Families, Diverse Reads, Important Themes, One for the Awards)
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I'm not going to even say much here, because there's not much that I can say anymore about this book. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Night-In Reads, Quiet Gems, Nice Guys, Wonderful Worlds, Beautiful Writing, Diverse Reads, YA for Adults)
This is a sci-fi gem that was published earlier this decade. With sci-fi and dystopian lit on the rise, I think it's a good time for this to come back out of the shadows, don't you? (also on: Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Wonderful Worlds, Diverse Reads)
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Just...beautiful and chilling, poetic yet unapologetically honest about the fatal scars inflicted by bullying. (also on: Best Books Read in 2010, Best Books Published in 2010, Thought-Provoking Reads, Nice Guys, Beautiful Covers, Important Themes)
2011 Books to Anticipate
By which I mean, uh, no, I won't be listing two thousand one hundred eleven books that I'm looking forward to reading (although I'm sure they exist in that number), but rather that I had the privilege of reading these 2011 releases early, and they are so fantastic that I need to generic early buzz buzz buzz for them because they deserve it!
This book is, like, your dream child. It's an utterly charming historical fantasy featuring a feisty young protagonist and heaps and heaps of trouble in the form of both magic and obnoxious family members. I LOVED this book, and while I was a little surprised they pushed back the release date from this previous summer, I'm just glad that in a few months, you all will be able to experience the gloriousness that is Kat Stephenson, and then I will have to *sigh* fight you over who gets to call this book their favorite.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Holy gushing, I'm not sure how I can express how incredible this dystopian debut novel is. The hype? Worth it. Its gorgeous cover? Deserved. Wither is richly written, the characters' ambiguous predicaments haunting.
Published in the UK earlier this year, Forbidden got so many rave reviews on Goodreads that I caved and bought a UK copy from Book Depository. Then I immediately dove into it--something I don't do often--and couldn't put it down. This atypical romance is one of the most intense things I have ever read. Coming out in the US later this spring!
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
A solidly exciting sci-fi/mystery debut novel! Are you one of the handful of people left in this corner of the universe that has not yet read the first chapter of ATU, which has been free online for several months now? If that doesn't suck you in like nothing else, then I don't know what will. The book's not perfect, but it sure as hell is entertaining, and gorgeous to boot, and definitely deserving of all of the publicity that's being pumped into it. (also on: Sci-Fi/Dystopian)
Megan McCafferty is the genius who authored the Jessica Darling series, pretty much my favorite series of all time and one that I reread every year, without fail, whenever I need some inspiration/am feeling down/am feeling like the only person in the world who feels the way I do. Her first legit YA novel is a dystopian tale featuring identical twins raised separately in a world where teen pregnancy has become an economy, since adults can no longer have babies. In typical McCafferty style, Bumped is an entertaining AND relevant examination of this aspect of our culture, and worth the the rereads for the new things you will discover every time.
Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
Bestselling author Lisa McMann's upcoming standalone novel (I think?) keeps her unique writing style to foster the sense of unease and simultaneous readerly detachment-involvement. It's a fast but unputdownable read.
...Aaaaaand that concludes this year's book lists! *collapses on the floor in spasms*
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Linked titles go to my book reviews; annotations as inspired.