All this week here at Novel Novice, staff members are featuring their picks for the Best YA Books of 2010. We read so much here, and that makes it ridiculously difficult to choose just a select few to make this “Best of” list … so really, you shouldn’t be all too surprised to discover that my list (at least) is a bit lengthy. I hope you’ll forgive my inability to edit myself. And now, on with my picks for 2010!
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I mean, can any other book really stand up to this one? The final chapter in the epic Hunger Games trilogy was easily the most-anticipated YA Book of 2010 — and it lived up to the hype 110%. It was sad, gruesome, disturbing and yet utterly perfect. This series could not have ended any differently. In my mind, this was exactly what needed to happen — and every moment hit exactly the right note, right up to the very last word. If you haven’t discovered The Hunger Games series for yourself yet, now is the time to do it. All three books are published, so you won’t have the experience the agonized wait between installments like the rest of us did — and with a movie adaptation about to go into production, the popularity of this series is on the cusp of exploding even more than it already has.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Easily one of the best books — period — that I have ever read, Revolution was probably the book that surprised me the most in 2010. It was pitched to me by the folks at Random House, and I was excited to feature it here at Novel Novice because of all the educational tie-in possibilities. (Lots of ways to relate history and music lessons!) But I was blown away by how amazing this book was — the story, the writing, the complexities. Everything about this book works in every single way. If you had to choose one YA book to pass on to readers who traditionally scoff at the genre, this is it.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
This is one of those books that will stick with you for years to come. It’s a coming of age story in the truest sense — but told in a way that is equally moving, compelling, charming and amusing. It blends angst and humor seamlessly, and then throws in a dash of “High School Musical” for good measure. I’d rank this book right up there with Catcher in the Rye as one of the most quintessential high school stories.
White Cat by Holly Black
What I love so much about this book is its complete originality. It stands out from the crowd of paranormal YA fiction for a number of reasons. One, because it’s not really a romance. Two, because it’s from a guy’s perspective. And three, because it’s about mobsters. And what makes this book even better is the combination of mobsters and magic. Holly Black has created a truly unique world and an action-packed novel that will have you racing to get to the last page, and then lingering to savor every moment. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll also be eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Kimberly Derting has a gift for combining the most squeal-worthy romances with the most edge-of-your-seat, terrifying thrillers around. And though the two may seem an odd pairing, Derting mixes them together masterfully. The crime thriller aspect of The Body Finder will scare the crap out of you (in a good way), while the romance will have you melting into a puddle of happy, sappy goo. The sequel coming out in 2011 is equally wonderful.
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
I love a good fairy tale, and when done well, I love a good fairy tale retold with a modern twist. Jackson Pearce certainly delivers with Sisters Red, a new twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I love everything about this book — the characters, the setting, the mood, the romance, and the Buffy-worthy ass-kicking scenes. I want more — lots more — from this world, and while a companion book is due out in 2011 (Sweetly, which I will certainly be checking out) — I’m really hoping for an actual sequel just so I can spend more time with Rosie, Silas and Scarlett.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
I confess, I was a bit hesitant going into this book. I absolutely adored Cassie’s original series, The Mortal Instruments — so I was intrigued by the concept of this prequel (the first in a new trilogy), but wary of the Victorian setting. After all, I generally prefer contemporary books in contemporary settings. But by the end of Clockwork Angel, I’d been converted. I think I actually like this book even better than the original series. There’s something wonderfully complex and delightful about the combination of the Shadowhunter world with Victorian London; Cassie uses this combination to put her own stamp on the Steampunk genre and it’s a total win. What’s more, she’s created a love triangle with Will, Jem and Tessa that’s so complex even I can’t choose a side. (And usually, I’m extremely decisive). And while part of me wishes I could read the second book in the series right this very second, another part of me is savoring the anticipation.
Matched by Ally Condie
Here’s another book that has lived up to the hype. A romantic thriller set in a dystopian future, this is exactly the book Hunger Games fans will want to devour after finishing Mockingjay. And since it’s the first in a new trilogy, it also gives us plenty to look forward to in the next couple of years. If you enjoy this book, also mark your calendars for the February release of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The two books share enough similarities to satisfy the same group of readers, while each one tells a unique story.
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
It doesn’t matter whether you end up choosing Team Zombie or Team Unicorn, this book is a gem. The concept, the design and the execution all hit exactly the right note — while the stories themselves are all completely entertaining. It doesn’t hurt that some of the best YA writers all contributed pieces to this whimsical anthology.
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that Lisa is a friend. But we didn’t really know each other well when I first sat down to read Chasing Brooklyn — so I feel I can safely put this book on my Best of 2010 list without a conflict of interest. Lisa is known for writing beautiful, haunting novels in verse for Young Adult readers — but I felt as if she really outdid herself with this book. I love the complexity of the story, and the ever-growing dynamic between Nico and Brooklyn. Lisa also masterfully combines some of the more horrifying moments with the more tender, human moments. I loved this book from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to read what Lisa does next.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
This book was a surprise and a half, and is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t necessarily judge a book by its cover. Upon first glance, this looks like a fluffy summer romance. But it is oh so much more. Another classic example of coming of age, The Summer of Skinny Dipping is about growing up, family, first love and the consequences of our choices and of our actions. This is hands-down one of the best books I’ve ever read. In fact, it was so good, I couldn’t put it down — I literally read it in a single sitting one night.
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
True confession: I was worried that Heidi R. Kling’s book about post-Tsunami Indonesia would turn preachy. Fact: it does not. Not once. Instead, Sea is a moving story about one girl’s personal journey — and not the journey from California to Indonesia. But rather, her journey within herself — what she learns about herself, her family, her wants and needs and goals in life. The story itself is moving and beautiful, and beautifully written. Heidi’s words wrap you up like a warm summer day and transport you away to another world. And that is exactly what I love most about reading — how it can take me away to another world. Sea does exactly that.
Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The world of YA came to a close in 2010 on a very high note, with Anna & the French Kiss — which is truly a gem. It’s well-written, smart, funny, sassy and extremely honest. Everyone will find something to relate to in this book, because the experiences and emotions are very real. It’s also one of the most squeal-worthy, toe-curling, heart-thumping, ooey-gooey romances I’ve ever read. I sort of want to make out with this book, it’s that enchanting and charming. Or maybe at least crawl inside and live in it.
For the comments: What are your favorite books of 2010?