I read a ton of YA books this year and in case anyone’s on the lookout for a good read for the 11 to 16 year old girl in your life, here are some of the best:
(note: most of these are not NEW books. I just happened to read them this year.)
In no particular order
1. Feed by M.T. Anderson. This is a must-read for a teen (or anyone) living in our consumeristic/plugged in society—the characters walk around with computers literally attached to their brains. Buy this for the teen boy in your life as well. Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. And contains one of the best first lines ever: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."
2. Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. The trend in teen fiction lately seems to be love triangles, as in, teen girl torn between two cute boys. In this book, they’re brothers—the funny, cool friend and the older, brooding guy—who is of course the one the girl longs for. Well-written and funny. There’s also a sequel.
3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I’m embarrassed to say why I picked this book up (okay. I’ll tell you. When my book(s) get published, they will be shelved beside Cashore's). Not too shabby placement, because this book is great. It’s fantasy (not usually what I’m drawn to) but so absorbing. Page turner. Great girl character. She’s got the gift of being able to kill people. And there’s a boy. Will she kill him? hmm. Read to find out.
4. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not too often do you get a well-written page turner. This one’s a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Part Surviver. Part Fahrenheit 451. Two boys and a girl. (again) Strong, resourceful main character figures out how to win a game that’s rigged against her. Everyone in my family read this book. Husband. Teen boy. Teen girl. None of us could put it down. (And there are two sequels that are just as riveting)
5. Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson. Main character is a cross country runner, perfect child, daughter of a minister, trying to run the household while obsessing over getting into MIT (where her mother went). Very cool contrast between her ordinary world and the "catalyst" that blows it all apart. Also want to put in a plug for Twisted and Prom by the same author. Anderson knows and understands teens better than pretty much any YA writer around.
6. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Starts with a kind of flaky 16 year old girl and then an asteroid hits the moon and all hell breaks loose. Very interesting how the family copes. This book will seriously make you consider stocking up on canned goods.
7. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. The only zombie book on the list. Totally could not put this one down. My heart was pounding as I read it. Also has a love triangle. (told you this was a trend) Just so happens that one of the guys ends up turning into a zombie. Drat.
8. Thirteen Plus One by Lauren Myracle. This is the fourth book in a great middle grade series. Other books are Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen and all follow the life of the sweet main character and the ups and downs of her middle school years. If you have a middle school aged child, it’s a must-read for both of you. She’ll get a how-to guide to surviving, and you’ll have a nice flashback to your own middle school years.
9. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I’ve already blogged about this book. Not sure how to categorize it. Fantasy. Post-apocalyptic war story. Love story. Brilliant writing. Won the Printz Award for best YA several years ago, deservedly so.
10. Fallen by Lauren Kate. Pure fun read for the Twilight-obsessed teen who’s sick of Twilight and needs another obsession. This time: fallen angels, another new trend. Bonus: it also includes a love triangle. Strange girl and the competing fallen angels who love her. I read this in one sitting and was relieved to learn there’s a sequel: Torment. (LOVE that title, by the way)