It’s belated, but here’s my list of my favorite teen books published in 2010. Obviously, this list is highly subjective and totally dependent on what I got around to reading in 2010 (there are so many books to read each year that I can never keep up!); as you can tell, I read a lot of fantasy, paranormal fiction, and horror/thrillers, so generally any list I put together about my personal favorites will favor those genres heavily. Having said that, here’s the list (summaries courtesy of Ingram’s or the publishers’ themselves):
White Cat, by Holly Black. Paranormal. Y Black.
Summary: When Cassel Sharpe discovers that his older brothers have used him to carry out their criminal schemes and then stolen his memories, he figures out a way to turn their evil machinations against them. Thoughts: I love heist stories and con artists. I love unreliable narrators. I love dark tales. I love secrets and twisty narratives where you’re never sure what’s going on until after it’s all been revealed (and even then, you’re not sure). Honestly, I think this one is my TOP top read of 2010. Here’s my review.
The Demon’s Covenant (sequel to The Demon’s Lexicon), by Sarah Rees Brennan. Paranormal. Y Brennan.
Summary: Mae Crawford’s always thought of herself as in control, but in the last few weeks her life has changed. Her younger brother, Jamie, suddenly has magical powers, and she’s even more unsettled when she realizes that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians. Even worse? Jamie hasn’t told Mae a thing about any of it. Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger from Gerald themselves because he wants to steal Nick’s powers. Thoughts: This series is a great mix of original world-building, twisty plotting, and intriguing characters who are all super witty (perhaps unrealistically so, but who cares when it’s so fun to read?).
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride. Paranormal. Y McBride.
Summary: Sam LaCroix, a Seattle fast-food worker and college dropout, discovers that he is a necromancer, part of a world of harbingers, werewolves, satyrs, and one particular necromancer who sees Sam as a threat to his lucrative business of raising the dead. Thoughts: This was one of the most thrilling and funniest books I’ve read in a long time. Sam has a great snarky voice, there’s tons of action and dark humor, and the plot kept me guessing the whole time. I can’t recommend it enough.
The Boneshaker, by Kate Milford. Historical/Paranormal. J Milford.
Summary: When Jake Limberleg brings his traveling medicine show to a small Missouri town in 1913, thirteen-year-old Natalie senses that something is wrong and, after investigating, learns that her love of automata and other machines make her the only one who can set things right. Thoughts: Good and evil battle for human souls in a dusty, rural, close-knit Midwestern town in the early 1900s. A crossroads demon, a doctor who sold his soul to save lives but winded up cursing those he helped, a musician who once beat the devil in a fiddle contest, and an ambiguous larger-than-life trickster all converge around Natalie. Natalie’s combination of innocence, bluntness, and quick-thinking make her the perfect heroine for this tale of outwitting the devil. This book melds real aspects of Americana — Jack tall tales, clockwork automata, traveling medicine shows and snake-oil salesmen — with a supernatural premise, and it all comes together perfectly.
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. Fiction/Paranormal. Y Oliver.
Summary: A terrible accident takes Samantha Kingston’s life. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she relives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined. Thoughts: This was one of those reads that really surprised me — I thought I would hate it but ended up really loving it. Here’s my review.
I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching, Book Four), by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. Y Pratchett.
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Tiffany Aching, the witch of the Chalk, seeks her place amid a troublesome populace and tries to control the ill-behaved, six-inch-high Wee Free Men who follow her as she faces an ancient evil that agitates against witches. Thoughts: I am sad to think there will probably not be another Tiffany Aching book, but as for series enders, this is a great one, encompassing everything that made the other three memorable: lots of British humor (both of the understated and loopy kinds), circuitous plotting, surprisingly serious undertones, and believable growth for the major characters, particularly Tiffany. I think this is my favorite one after the first, The Wee Free Men.
A Conspiracy of Kings (Queen’s Thief, Book Four), by Megan Whalen Turner. Fantasy. Y Turner.
Summary: Kidnapped and sold into slavery, Sophos, an unwilling prince, tries to save his country from being destroyed by rebellion and exploited by the conniving Mede empire. Thoughts: Turner does something different with the narrative in every Queen’s Thief book, and though I did miss Eugenidies in this fourth book, she made Sophos as interesting and complex a character, one who goes through similarly difficult trials on the road to kingdom. I’ve never written reviews of these books, because I don’t think I can do them justice, but I don’t think you can find anything better for subtle but brilliant political intrigue, fantasy world-building, and characters you absolutely fall in love with.
The Curse of the Wendigo (sequel to The Monstrumologist), by Richard Yancey. Horror. Y Yancey.
Summary: In 1888, twelve-year-old Will Henry chronicles his apprenticeship with Dr. Warthrop, a New England scientist who hunts and studies real-life monsters, as they discover and attempt to destroy the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh. Thoughts: I just don’t see enough horror of this caliber, particularly for teens. The Monstrumologist, the first in the series, was a top read last year, and this one may be even better, because it raises the stakes for poor, doomed apprentice Will Henry and his recalcitrant master of monstrumology, Dr. Warthrop. I don’t love the series just because it’s gory, atmospheric, and frightening; I also love it because the characters, and their relationships with each other, have such depth, and because of the serious, literate tone to the storytelling (which fits perfectly within the setting and time frame of late 1800s New England).