Not quite sure what book will suit your mood? Rachel L's top ten will take you on a guided tour of the best stuff out there:
Sometimes I wonder if Andrew Smith comes up with his book ideas by some sort of Mad Libs-esque process: pick random nouns, adjectives, and verbs and expand on that random selection until a genius story unfolds. In this case, the fill in the blank words are: falling horse, man-eating aliens, sex-obsessed best friend, young love, and seizures. Out of those words came my favorite book of the year, a quirky, satisfying story about a teenager, Finn Easton, whose father wrote a best-selling book about man-eating aliens who have a striking resemblance to Finn; his charismatic best friend Cade; and a beautiful and kind new girl in town, Julia.
Best Female Lead: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Harper Price is unashamed in her love for all things Southern belle: cotillion, dresses, good manners. But then she’s unwittingly turned into a magical protector, a Paladin, and must protect her nemesis, snarky school reporter David Stark. This is the most fun book I’ve read in a long time. Harper is bossy and kind of a mean girl, but she’s also fierce and loyal. And there are fights, magic, and, of course, love.
Cadence Sinclair can’t remember what happened last summer at her family’s private island. The characters, Cadence and the other kids on the island, the Liars, are the stars of this story, and the shocking twist that Cadence discovers about that forgotten summer will have you reaching for that tissue box by the end.
Best “Survival of the Fittest” Dystopian: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste of humans on Mars, and when his wife is martyred, he finds an opportunity to sneak into high Gold society to attempt to change things from the top down. He is forced to fight for his life among the Golds, and in the process must decide what really is worth fighting for. A dark science fiction dystopian that is cataloged in our adult collection, Red Rising is a great crossover for teen dark fiction fans.
Most Gut-Wrenching: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Leonard Peacock is about to do something drastic. He takes us through everything that has led up to this moment, the goodbye gifts, the tears, the gun in his hand. This book broke my heart, but Matthew Quick’s magic lies in his ability to find a kernel of hope in even the most bleak scenarios.
What’s more real: the person you are in real life, or the person you are online? A great story about friendship, first loves, and integrity within the realm of online role playing games.
Best Friendships (and Falling Outs): The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Selwyn Academy, a school for creative youths, is the setting for a televised art competition. Magnetic, talented Luke convinces his three friends, Ethan, Jackson, and Elizabeth, to pen an anonymous, scathing poetic commentary on the filming. But when Luke is recruited to join the show, a rift grows between him and the rest of his friends. Great banter and a realistic portrayal of the shifting nature of friendship.
Random words selected: six-foot tall man-eating grasshopper, testicle-dissolving corn, love triangle with your best friend and girlfriend. Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe this book, but Andrew Smith again works his magic, turning this crazy premise into an unsettling, but enjoyable coming of age story set amidst a giant insect apocalypse.
The classic high school outcasts: the fat kids, band geeks, stoners, nerds, etc., stage a protest about the school soda machine profits shifting from the marching band to the cheerleading team. Hijinks and hilarity ensue while main character and class clown/fat boy Gabe (aka Chunk) sheds his persona and learns to accept himself.
A teenage girl, “Zoe”, has a confession to make involving the death of someone she loves, and reveals the story in a series of letter to an inmate awaiting execution on death row. Touching and so, so, sad, this was a contender for the “Most Tissues Award”, but the mystery was so wonderfully done that it warranted a whole other category.