Today was my last day at Barnes & Noble, and I thought I'd celebrate by highlighting some of the great books I read this year from the Barnes & Noble's teen section, which is where I find some of the most interesting and enjoyable books. So here is a lightly annotated list of some of my favorite young adult reads from the past 17 months.
- Tithe, by Holly Black. This gritty urban fantasy is about a girl who discovers she's a changeling, and finds herself struggling to save herself and her friends from the violence of an amoral faery world that is all too real. And it's the first in a series: c'mon Holly, write a fourth!
- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. A girl and a guy both on the rebound from problematic relationships meet at a concert and spend the night wandering Manhattan (and possibly falling in love).
- S.E.X.: The all-you-need-to-know progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school and college, by Heather Corinna. Okay, it's not fiction, but it's a great read all the same. In my dream world, every school system in the country would be using this for their sex ed program.
- Wicked Lovely, by Melisa Marr. Another modern fairytale about a girl who discovers she is gifted (or cursed) with the magical power to heal the world of faery . . . but at what personal cost?
- Actually, anything by David Levithan, though my favorite (aside from Nick & Norah) is The Realm of Possibility, a series of interconnected narrative poems about a group of friends at a high school and their network of relationships, romantic, platonic, and every shade in between.
- This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn, by Aiden Chambers. I thought the end of this novel was a cop-out, but the rest is a voluble, maddening, tender and fascinating account of a young woman's coming of age and her maturing relationships.
- Runaways, by Brian K. Vaughn, et. al. Teenage superheros/heroines come into their powers and discover their parents are plotting to take over the world. Fun graphic novels that play confidently with the genre (and have some kick-ass young women as characters).
- The Mislaid Magician; or, Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm, by Patricia C. Wrede & Carolyn Stevermere. Besides deserving an award for Longest Title Ever, this third book in the Sorcery & Cecelia series provided me with one of the best quotes of last year: "The most unsettling result of this adventure is that we find ourselves in possession of a superfluous child."
- The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. A story about a foster child, an accordian player, a Jew in hiding, some stolen books, Germany in the midst of the Second World War, and the way human beings respond to overwhelming crises--all narrated by the compelling character of Death. It's hard to describe, so I just tell people to read the first paragraph and see if they can resist being hooked.