Sunday, July 13, 2014

15 Must-Read Teen Books: 2014 Update

Shortly after I started this blog two years ago, I compiled a list of 15 must-read teen books. It's highly subjective and based on what I’ve read, but it also represents a variety of genres within the YA category. I’ve updated the list twice since then, in 2013 and now, in this 2014 update!

For those new to YA, this list provides an introduction to YA. Which books on the list would you pick up? For avid YA readers, what are your must-reads? Do we share ten, five or possibly even none?

Anna and the French Kiss: Stephanie Perkins (new)
Anna’s senior year in a Parisian boarding school is an adventure, especially when she meets Etienne St. Clair, a Parisian/English boy with a great accent. Their friendship and budding romance is a swoon-worthy YA relationship with an equal balance of realism and fairy tale. This is Anna’s first year on the list.

Boy Meets Boy: David Levithan
This is an expertly crafted book about a boy who loves another boy and the crazy unique high school that they attend. Its ground-breaking impact continues to be felt in YA, especially as it reached the 10th anniversary of it's publication last year! This is Boy Meets Boy’s second year on the list.

Code Name Verity: Elizabeth Wein (new)
This historical fiction novel isn’t your typical WWII tale. A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France with two best friends, the pilot and the passenger, on board. What follows in this Printz Honor Book is a fierce, forward, expertly plotted story. Code Name Verity is a new addition to this year’s must-read list.

Divergent: Veronica Roth
When Tris Pryor chooses to leave her family behind for the danger of the Dauntless, she has no idea the hard work, controversy and consequences that will come. Roth creates a magnificent dystopian tale where Tris, Four and others are not only in the midst of the action, they are the action. This is Divergent’s second year on this list.

Eleanor & Park: Rainbow Rowell
The relationship of Eleanor and Park is not only moving, but makes for an astounding and unputdownable read. It's ground-breaking in its realness and their love is relatable in its imperfection. A Printz Honor Book and the newest book on this list (published in early 2013), Eleanor & Park is a YA gem.

Graceling: Kristin Cashore
Katsa is a strong, Graced but flawed girl struggling to break from her uncle's control. Her world is medieval fantasy and full of magic and mystery. This novel is one of my favorite YA reads, and due to the fact that I’ve loved it for over four years, Graceling has graced this list since the beginning.

Heist Society: Ally Carter
Kat Bishop is from a family of thieves but strives to use her skills for good, which equals an intriguing yet mischievous female Robin Hood. Carter writes light-hearted novels that are fun yet entrancing reads. Heist Society is the first in her second series and has been on this list since its conception.

If I Stay: Gayle Forman
Mia is in a coma after a devastating car accident that took the lives of her family. In an out-of-body experience, she relives past events and watches her friends and family gather around her. Will she join her family on the other side or wake to the everyday struggle that is life? This is a profound, moving YA book about the importance of choices and the will to fight. The movie adaptation's coming to theaters on August 22!

Levithan: Scott Westerfeld
Westerfeld writes an alternate version of WWI in a story that pits the Darwinists (British, French) and their living creatures against the Clankers (Austro-Hungarians, Germans) and their war machines. Imaginative, full of action with sprinkles of history, this tale is on the forefront of YA steampunk and has been on this list three years running.

Shadow and Bone: Leigh Bardugo
When Alina, a lowly mapmaker in the nation of Ravka, discovers an ancient and terrifying power, she's whisked away by the mysterious yet alluring Darkling. Bardugo crafts an intriguing, new tale with layers of Russian legend and lore. This debut for Bardugo is the first in a trilogy and it’s appearing on this list for the second time. 

The Book Thief: Marcus Zusak
This historical fiction novel has quickly become a modern classic. Narrated by Death during the Holocaust, the story follows Liesel and her life in Nazi Germany. This is a fascinating, powerful tale and a new take on this time in history. The Book Thief has been on my must-read list since the beginning.

The Fault in Our Stars: John Green
Hazel and Augustus are both teens dealing with cancer. Theirs is a love story for the ages and is already a record-setting bestseller for YA. With the movie release just over a month ago, this novel has cleared a place in pop culture history. I added TFIOS to this list last year, shortly after I read it for the first time.

The Giver: Lois Lowry
A classic dystopian novel, this is a quick, intriguing read that leaves the reader thinking. A precursor to today's dystopia and a permanent fixture on this list, Lowry created a classic in her telling of Jonas and his seemingly perfect world. The movie adaption will be in theaters next month.

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games will likely be immortalized as the poster-child for YA dystopia. In a televised fight to the death in a futuristic world where the U.S. has fallen and the Capitol controls twelve districts in a grueling manner, one girl starts a revolution. With the Mockingjay: Part I in theaters this November, this series is now a household name. It’s been on this list three years running.

Throne of Glass: Sarah J. Maas (new)
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin brought before the king not to be sentenced to death, but for a chance to win her freedom in a competition to become the king’s champion. But there’s evil lurking at the edges of the castle, and possibly even inside. Throne of Glass is one of my favorite YA fantasies and I’m thrilled that the third book in the series is less than two months from publication! It’s new to the list this year. 

Thanks for reading!

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