NOTE: My top pick by obscurity is BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, but it’s only obscure because it hasn’t been released yet, and once it IS released, I have a feeling it’s going to be super popular, so it’s not really right for this list.
So here we go…
Title: THIS BOOK ISN’T FAT, IT’S FABULOUS
Author: Nina Beck
Release date: Sept. 2008 (now in paperback)
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Genre: Chick-lit/Teen romance
One line summary: Manhattan rich kid Riley Swain, known for overusing the word fabulous (especially when describing herself), is sent to fat camp during Spring Break by her distant father and evil stepmother.
What I said then: “Before you dismiss this as yet another novel preaching the old mantra of loving yourself the way you are – too thin, too fat, too whatever – consider that Riley is one of the coolest characters I’ve come across in YA lit AND she has a romance at camp (with the headmistress’ son Eric no less) that is so authentically sweet it made me positively giddy (and trust me, that doesn’t happen often).” Full review.
What I loved the most: Riley’s character and voice, romance that didn’t make me barf, writing filled with humor and charm.
Title: EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN THE WORLD
Author: Lisa Levchuk
Release date: Oct. 2008
Genre: Realistic fiction
One line summary: Edna’s mother has cancer which she is so unable to deal with that she is lured into an affair with her teacher.
What I said then: “I was blown away by this book, pure and simple. Debut Author Lisa Levchuk manages to capture perfectly the feeling of being a teen that has a mother with cancer (and I should know). Edna’s voice is so raw and honest while still managing to be witty and endearing. You want to give her a hug at the same time you want to shake her and make her come to her senses.” Full review + interview with author.
What I loved the most: Edna’s voice
Title: THE STOLEN ONE
Author: Suzanne Crowley
Release date: June 2009
Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Genre: Historical fiction
One line summary: Orphaned Kat goes to court and becomes a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.
What I said then: “To say I was enthralled is an understatement. In fact, I wish it could have been even longer than its’ 416 pages because Kat was such an appealing character to hang out with – curious, bright, passionate, and unpredictable. I loved the vividly realized historical details of the court and fashions of the time.” Full review. Cover interview.
What I loved the most: Kat’s character, setting, supporting characters
Title: MY FAIR GODMOTHER
Author: Janette Rallison
Release date: Jan. 2009 (now in paperback)
Publisher: Walker Books (Bloomsbury)
Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale retellings
One line summary: A mediocre fairy godmother student gets assigned modern teen Savannah as an extra credit project and “accidently” sends her to the middle ages.
What I said then: “I loved Savannah’s character arc and her development from terminally clueless to pretty damn resourceful. Her wry observations on everything from wetsuits vs bikinis to hygiene in the middle ages had my face aching from smiling so much.” Full review.
What I loved the most: Savannah’s voice and character arc, humorous writing, inventive plot, fun supporting characters
Title: DUST OF 100 DOGS
Author: AS King
Release date: Feb. 2009
Genre: Genre bending mix of historical fiction, realistic fiction, and fantasy
One line summary: Famous pirate Emer was cursed to live 100 dog lives before being born in the 20th century as Saffron who's life's goal is to get to Jamaica to dig up her long buried treasure.
What I said then: "... it delivered on its high concept, innovative premise (just absolutely not in the way I expected it to) with a rich story spanning four centuries and several continents and featuring two very well developed heroines (who ARE separate entities though they are mystically linked). In stories that alternate every few chapters, we follow Emer’s tumultuous childhood in Ireland and her evolution into a famed Caribbean pirate as well as Saffron’s own struggles in a downtrodden modern American family who has pinned all their hopes of a better life on her. It somehow manages to be epic and intimate at the same time." Full review and interview with character Saffron.
What I loved the most: innovative premise, writing, Emer's character
So these are my top 5 unsung YA from the past 2 years. To see other's lists, check out the master list at YAnnabe. And tell me, what YA books would you'd like to see get some lovin'?