Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Top Ten Teen Reads

Notes before we begin:
(1) Trilogies (proper ones) count as a single item if all books were available.
(2) This is complied from all the teen books I've read this year, not the ones released this year.
(3) I will tell you why the book got on the list—which may or may not tell you what it was about.
(4) The number ranking correlates to the order I thought of them in, not necessarily meant as a reflection of quality.

1) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This book, for me, came out of nowhere. Grabbed me and refused to let me go. It made a home in my heart—as all of these books have. It did this by being refreshing: Set in a small town; narrated by a boy; great concept, and so much fun.

Most importantly: the romantic relationship in this novel betters the characters. They treat each other with respect. They are braver for each other. They have a realistic and healthy relationship. "Cursed love" in this novel is shown for what it is, a fear and intolerance of those who are different.

2) Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

This book is amazing because, again, it's different. It's written in third person! A sweet, funny, light-hearted story that is still dramatic and emotionally moving. When I read this book, I feel proud to be a writer.

3) Going Bovine by Libba Bray

This is the closest thing I've seen to the ambition of American Gods in years. Going Bovine is one of those insanely brilliant books that should have fallen apart and been absolutely terrible. It isn't. It's magnificent. Cameron's voice is so, so real. The book is hilarious. It stands apart from the rest of the books on the shelf.

4) The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

The only reason this isn't the best thing I've read this year, is because I really didn't care if Clary and Jace got to make kissy faces and have babies. That was the least interesting part of the trilogy to me. (And most of what City of Bones was surface-level about.) But it still is so much fun. Like Buffy fun. Most teens probably don't understand what a compliment that is. TMI is Good and Clever. A complex, wonderful story that seeds clues well and rewards a close read.

5) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

I am pissed off Cory did not win an Aurora—or was even nominated—for this teen novel. It's one of the most important books on the teen shelves. In the years to come, people are going be required to read this novel in school (on their eReaders.) Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Alternate Reality Games? Come on, this is real science fiction. Both terrifying and inspiring.

6) My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Proving books don't always have to have explosions to get my attention, this paranormal romance is so sweet and delightfully grounded in reality. Rachel has really accomplished something in this novel. It's well written, I care about the characters, and it's suspenseful and conflicted without being melodramatic.

7) The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

I was so thrilled to read Victorian-era novels that did not bore me. Quite the opposite, I found this trilogy empowering. I liked the characters. I adored the voice. It's first person present tense done well—and not a romance. Anyone who pulls off the ending that Libba Bray did in The Sweet Far Thing deserves epic recognition.

8) Liar by Justine Larbalestier

This book is incredible. An unrelaible first person narrator in the teen department? Shut up! Fabulous. Wonderfully written, expertly crafted, and you can choose which book-reality is the truth. I love a great psychological thriller, and this is best one I've read all year.

9) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I don't like zombies. I don't like post-apocalyptic. Yet, this hauntingly beautiful and deceptively bleak book is so amazing. Oh the voice of this novel! It was heart-wrenching to read. You want to know why Hunger Games isn't on this list? Read The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Its cliffhanger ending still gets under my skin.

10) Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

Not matter what my feelings on Ash or the ending of this book, I still love Seth and Sorcha. I love them and their character arcs enough to happily put Aunty Melissa's third novel on this list. (Now give me RADIANT SHADOWS.)

Honorable mention that aren't found on the teen shelves:

1) Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians: A 9–12/MG series that combines Greek mythology, mayhem, and heroic quests. Way too much fun. I was so sad to say goodbye at the end of The Last Olympian.

2) Robert J Sawyer's Wake: Accessable to teens, but found in the adult sci fi section. This combines the internet, a blind girl undergoing an operation that allows her to see in an unexpected way, and the evolution of human consciousness. Easily my favorite of Sawyer's novels and the start of a promising new trilogy.


Leigh said...

Great, great picks! I have been wanting to read Little Brother for a while now, ever since I heard about Cory Doctorow releasing it for free online. I like the way he thinks. :)

Chandra Rooney said...

Tis the season for Top 10 lists! :)

Cory is either a genius or certifiably insane. The line gets blurry sometimes in the speculative community.

FIONA said...

Love LIAR and LITTLE BROTHER, so did my teen son. We haven't read the others--thanks for the suggestions.