Monday, December 16, 2013

Top Ten Teen Books of 2013

It's that time of year again! Time to agonize over picking my ten favorite books this year, and then find ways to cheat slightly to include a few more. ;-)

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Actually, I had a bit of trouble putting together this list because so many of my favorite books this year were firmly in the Adult category. Still, plenty, like this one, have broader appeal. While the movie is fun, and it's great to have an addition to the ZomRomCom genre, the book outstrips it by a mile. Contemplative, horrifying, and emotionally resonant for a generation, Warm Bodies should definitely claw its way onto your reading list.

 I mentioned the cheating, right? Here's a big one- the ninth spot on my list belongs to the collections of critical essays based around popular TV shows that I've read this year. It's been a big year for fandoms, and what better way to celebrate than by delving deeper into the history, psychology, and cultural relevance of your favorite Time Lord, Vampire Slayer, Hunter or Browncoat?

Again with the cheating. Last one though. Probably.

I'm giving the Eighth spot, and I swear that this was actually a coincidence, to the Big Finish audio stories featuring the Doctor's  Eighth incarnation, as voiced by Paul McGann. This year marks the show's 50th anniversary, so it seems fitting to include them. Even if you've  never tried audiobooks before, these can be a fun introduction as they're really more radio plays with multiple actors, many well-known to Whovians. I highly recommend a viewing of the (cheesy but lovable) 1996 Doctor Who movie, then listening to some of these audios. Fair warning: you will fall head over heels in love with Eight's "Edwardian Adventuress" companion, the fantasic Charley Pollard.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Aaaand, back to the teen books! Series are a fact of life in the realm of teen lit, and this can sometimes be wearying, so it's always a pleasant surprise to find books that you actually can't wait for the next installment of. With engaging characters, an increasing amount of magic, and enough quippy banter for any CW-hardened fan of genre fiction, these books are a fun ride that I wholeheartedly recommend.

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

Speaking of series that you're actually excited for! If you've seen this blog before you know I turn into a babbling sack of enthusiastic superlatives where the Fairyland series is concerned, so I'll spare you. If you haven't already, please start this series. It's waiting to welcome you with open arms and a fresh pot of spiced tea.

Another Little Piece by Kate Karus Quinn

Not my usual, but I really enjoyed this creeptastic bit of madness and body horror. Recommended for fans of Stephen King.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

I feel like there's a shortage of good sci-fi being released for teens. Maybe that's just because I don't read enough sci-fi in general to be on top of these things, but so much of it seems like quickly churned out dystopian filler. Not so here, where the focus is on the ethical issues of cloning, and the story plays out in an all-too-possible future. It's chilling and uplifting and really makes you think- exactly as good science fiction needs to.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

English. Snarky. Magical. Mysterious. Romantic. Gothic. Funny. Yes good.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

I struggled with this spot, and almost had it be a tie with Ashfall (which is one of the only YA books with a male protagonist I've read this year, and was a damn good story to boot), but I decided I'd done enough cheating. Besides, this one feels that little bit more unique, even if it is perhaps a bit less polished. I've had just about enough dystopian novels, but this one, which happens on the outskirts and to everyday people, made things interesting again. Bleak but powerful, this is an intriguing portrayal of survival and love in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I had despaired of vampires ever being even tolerable in a YA novel again. And then this happened. Sexy and scary by turns, exactly as the best vampire lit should be, this is a fun ride into a dark and glittering world of ballgowns, teenage angst, shameless media consumption, marketing, death and romance. This is my kind of vampire book people, and it might just be yours as well.

And there you have it! Not as many books as I was completely in love with as some previous years- and as much as I love The Dream Thieves and The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, the inclusion of two series installments on this list is telling.

What made your top ten list this year?


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