Ahh, Young Adult! A tricky genre to be sure! Very popular right now, of course, flooded with worthy titles . . . but writing YA can be harder than it looks. Character is all important, especially the main character. The author has to find that balance, got to create characters that read like real teens, and not just what they personally think of teens. Not too mature, not too whiny . . . not too obviously written by an adult, in short. My number one pick here does that perfectly. The narrator is so realistically drawn that I could have read about her and her friends for several hundred more pages. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with the amazing
1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
2. Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
As some of you may know, I am not the hugest fan of the "YA paranormal romance" subgenre. Usually I am bothered by the fact that the guy is usually a) a monster and b) really, really old, making the relationship just wildly inappropriate from every angle. This book, however, is delightfully different in that our narrator, whom I FREAKING LOVE, is herself very old (VERY old) and not without powers of her own. I described this book to my sister as "Norse gods in rehab," and I stick to that description, even though it does not do justice to the hilarity, drama, suspense, and wonder of this book.
3. Jane by April Lindner
Yes, Pride and Prejudice is a great book, I am not going to argue that with anyone. But if I had to pick my favorite 19th century novel I would go with Jane Eyre every time. I'm sorry, but there it is. I love that book. And so with fascination I picked up the advance readers' copy of this little gem, an updated version of the story featuring a mousy nanny going to work for a washed up rock star. The modernization was flawless, giving new life to the story, and there was a perfect balance between the new elements and the old. It didn't ever make me think "THIS is supposed to be Jane Eyre," but I also never felt bored, like, "Yeah, yeah, now the brother-in-law shows up." I read this book in one day, ignoring children and other obligations, I was so hooked.
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I know, some fans were angry. To them I say, write your own book, then. This was Collins' world, and Collins' story, and she ended it how she started it, with gorgeous amounts of anguish, anger, love, and hope. Katniss Everdeen was a tragic and wonderful heroine, a teenager forced into a role that she didn't want and none of us knew if she could fulfill, and this book was an amazing finale for her.
5. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
Has our Princess Mia finally achieved self-actualization? If not, she's come awfully close! Mia's all growed up and saving Genovia, and while I'll be sad to see the last of her, this was the perfect ending for this series as well! Adieu, Mia! Adieu, Grandmere!
6. Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
I've always fantasized about gargoyles coming to life, heck there's a gargoyle housekeeper in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. But what if they came to life, and were up to no good?! YIKES! An exciting look at the perils of applying to college!
7. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison
Another great YA series ended this year! So we must say "Auf Wiedersehen, my little pally!" to Georgia! But we are so glad that she has at last chosen from the menu of the Cake Shop of Luuuuurve! HOOOOOOORN!
8. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
This Printz Award Winner is a mad journey through Mad Cow Disease, as a modern-day Don Quixote goes on a quest through the It's A Small World! ride and Spring Break, aided by a punked out angel, a talking lawn gnome, and a germaphobic little person. Yes, it's that crazy. There's a reason why they call it "Mad" Cow Disease . . .
9. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
This is a hard book to read. The protagonist is anorexic, and she doesn't want to get better. This is a very close, very accurate, and very moving look at eating disorders, mental illness, and family relationships.
10. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
So icky, but so good. The fluids fly as a young apprentice assists his scientist master in tracking and killing an infestation of hideous creatures straight out of nightmare!
11. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Egad! Speaking of fluids! I am normally not a horror novel person, but I could not put this book down. It was wonderfully creepy, and amazingly well plotted!
Honorable Mentions go out to:
Girl In the Arena by Lise Haines
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
and Circle of Flight by John Marsden
Go forth, as I always say, and READ!