Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Top 10 in 2012: Ashley Knows What's Awesome

Ashley is yet another new librarian at APL and we are very excited about her love of manga and her willingness to let us beg her for reviews. Thanks Ashley! You'll definitely be seeing lots more from her in 2013!

I can't be asked to sort these. It would take ages to decide, then I'd just change my mind in an hour when I remember something great about one of the titles.

Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth

A two for one! I'm really focusing on Divergent though.

Divergent is a dystopian novel about a girl named Beatriz (Tris) who upon turning 16 must choose a faction. She can choose Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Each teen undergoes a test that should tell them which faction to choose, but Tris is compatible with multiple factions, which makes her divergent. She is from Abnegation, but she ends up choosing Dauntless. She and her peers must undergo physical and psychological tests to become a part of their new faction, and it is a matter of life and death.

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You by Karuho Shiina

Kimi ni Todoke is a shoujo manga series about a girl named Sawako Kuronuma who is a completely misunderstood girl. She is kindhearted and only wants to make friends, but because she looks remarkably like Sadako from the horror movie Ringu, she scares everyone away. Kazehaya, the most popular boy in school, takes notices of her and they become friends, much to everyone's surprise. Between Kazehaya and two girls in her class, Sawako makes friends and their other classmates begin to see that Sawako is nothing like Sadako (but they still accidentally call her Sadako). Of course romance begins to blossom between Sawako and Kazehaya, very, very slowly. As of volume 15 in the US they still have yet to kiss.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (see our full review here)
Lucky Linderman has a dysfunctional family (who doesn't?) and suffers from bullying. In his dreams he escapes to Laos, the place his grandfather couldn't escape during the Vietnam War, and he's a real man. His dreams are a lot better than facing reality, especially when his parents are separated and he's stuck moving to Arizona, but eventually he has to wake up. 

Everybody Sees the Ants is an engaging reflection on family, the impact of war on survivors of those killed or missing in action, and bullying.

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Mia has synesthesia, which causes her to think about things in terms of colors instead of simply shapes. For example, she thinks of numbers, colors, and sounds in terms of what color they are. Mia begins to struggle in school and realizes that her condition is not something her peers or family understands and she begins to see therapists and a neurologist to help her learn to live with synesthesia. This book won a Schneider Family award in 2004-- these are books that are expressions of disability experiences. To be honest, I picked it up because there was a cat on the cover. I have no regrets.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (see more posts here)

Anna is shipped off to Paris to go to school at SOAP, or School of America in Paris. Her father's an author and wanted her to have a life experience, but Anna is so not excited. Anna makes friends and develops a relationship with Etienne St. Clair, but she's terribly homesick and was absolutely unprepared to go to school in Paris. I'm not typically into romantic fiction like this book, but it made me happy and giddy. It's a bit cheesy, a bit angsty, but all around enjoyable and light. I would also recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door (which also has Anna and St. Clair in it).

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff (see our full review here)

There is No Dog is about God. God, or Bob, is a 19-year old boy. He's lazy and selfish, and nearly causes an apocalypse when he leaves the bath running and floods the world. He falls in love with a girl named Lucy and is completely misguided in his quest for her affection. His assistant, Mr. B, has his work cut out for him between Bob's romantic ambitions, Bob's mother gambling away his beloved pet (Eck), and general apathy from the teen.

There is No Dog is a funny existential read, and especially great if you're looking for something different.

Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi (see more)

Dengeki Daisy is a manga series about a high school girl named Teru who lives alone after her brother passes away. She works hard and is independent, but she always feels stronger because of a mysterious person named DAISY. When her brother died he left a phone for her with a single contact on it. She has no idea who DAISY is, but he always manages to make her life better. If only it weren't for that mean janitor at her school that has pretty much made her a slave because she accidentally broke a window. Or the people that are constantly kidnapping her because of something involving her brother. This is an exciting story that isn't especially focused on ~love~ as much it is about Teru's relationships with her friends and the people who knew her brother. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (see our full review)

Alina and Mal grew up in an orphanage together, and when traveling through the Shadow Fold Alina saves Mal with a special power, which ends up taking her to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha. Alina's power has the potential to save the kingdom, but first she must learn how to control it.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (see our full review)

Cameron Post kisses a girl, and then her parents are killed in a car crash. She's relieved that they never found out. When she is forced to live with her Aunt Ruth and her grandmother she struggles to hide her feelings and blend in with everyone else. When she forges a friendship with Coley Taylor-- and it starts to turn into something more-- Aunt Ruth sends Cameron away to a religious camp to "fix" gay kids.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age tale about a girl that's different in small town America with authentic characters and beautiful writing.

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

Wandering Son is a touching manga series about two middle school students, Nitori and Takatsuki who both identify as transgender. Nitori is effeminate and is often bullied in school by other boys because he is timid. Takatsuki on the other hand is a girl and can very easily get away with dressing in boy's clothes and may just be seen as tomboyish. The graphic novels explore how both characters discover their identity and their relationships with family, friends, and peers. Wandering Son is a beautiful contribution to GLBT literature and is a delicate and honest portrayal of transgendered teens. 

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