Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Top Ten YA Books

Adele of Persnickety Snark has a Top 100 YA Titles Poll going. She was inspired by Elizabeth Bird's Top 100 Children 's Book Poll. I didn't weigh in on the Children's Poll, but I decided to let my voice be heard for the YA poll. I don't think I'm the most discerning person to ask, but I put together a list anyway. I like what Adele said about all the lists: "Lists are very dependant on what you've read, genres you prefer, execution vs memory and any matter of things. It is subjective. It is also extremely difficult." Without further ado, here is my Top Ten List.

10. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (2009)
Fairy tale retellings are on of my favorite YA sub-genres. It was very hard to pick my favorite retelling. I ended up choosing Ice because of its modern setting. Others I considered were Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Look for the sequel Princess of Glass on May 25! ) and The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli.

9. Spell Hunter by R. J. Anderson (2009)
This book was by far my favorite book of 2009. I loved everything about it. I can't wait for the sequel.

8. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (2008)
Awards: Printz Honor 2009, BBYA 2009
This book is one of those great modern realistic titles. It reminded me of John Green's Looking for Alaska and the film Dead Poets' Society.

7. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (2009)
Awards: William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist 2010
This was a beautiful book. I was a bit skeptical when I saw the size. The Twilight books have soured me on long books unless they are fantastic like Inkheart or Beautiful Creatures. I liked that the story was unique. So many of the paranormal teen novels are hit or miss on a unique plot, originality, and creativity.

6. Backwater by Joan Bauer (2005)
Joan Bauer is one of my favorite YA authors. I knew I had to pick one of her books for my Top 10 list. I considered Hope was Here. It's a great book and even won some awards, but I ultimately chose Backwater. This is my favorite Bauer title to date (and I've read them all!). I think the theme is one with which numerous teen can identify. The book is about identity and many teens struggle with that.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006)
Awards: Printz Honor 2007, BBYA 2007
This book was hauntingly beautiful. I've always enjoyed stories about WWII because my grandmother remembered the era. This is something she lived through. And you can't beat death as a narrator.

4. The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause (1990)
Yeah, the Twilight Saga got teens reading again, but the vampire book was around much longer. A full 15 years before the publication of Twilight, Annette Curtis Klause gave us The Silver Kiss. It's my favorite vamp book. While I initially enjoyed the Twilight books, I don't really care for them. If you want a good vampire book, read Klause's.

3. Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (1966)
Awards: Newbery Medal 1967
I discovered this book in my eighth grade classroom. I remember being drawn to Julie and her story. She was a writer. I like to think that I'm a writer/poet. I discovered Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry through this book. Little Women and Anne of Green Gables are often touted as the books for girls, but I think Up a Road Slowly is just as important. I need to re-read this one.

2. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (1997)
Awards: Newbery Medal 1998, Notable Children's Book 1998, Scott O'Dell Award 1998
The verse novel (or novel-in-verse or novem) is a growing phenomenon in YA books. This book was my first taste of the form. I read this book in my graduate Children's Literature class. We had to keep book notes--write down the passages that really stood out to us and add an explanation of why. It was a struggle for me not to just copy the book in its entirety. I had read Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff, but it didn't strike me as anything more than a prose novel with the sentences separated into lines. Out of the Dust was poetry and it told a story--revolutionary!

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999)
Awards: Printz Honor 2000
Laurie Halse Anderson is a masterful writer. As a reader, I am drawn into the world and characters she creates. Speak was the first novel I read by her. It remains my favorite. Melinda has such a distinctive voice. Her story is one that deserves to be heard.

So here's my list. I know it doesn't reveal any great truths about YA literature, but I had fun deciding on my Top 10. I can't wait to see the results of the poll.

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