Best Books of 2013 for Teens

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Best Books of 2013 for Teens

These are some of the books that made the best books lists for teens from more than one professional book review journal. The journals that selected the books for their best books lists are listed at the end of each book’s annotation.

(Annotations are from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal and Booklist)

Julie Berry. All the Truth That’s In Me.

Eighteen-year-old Judith Finch gradually reveals the horror of her two-year disappearance in a stunning historical murder mystery and romance. (Kirkus, Horn Book, and School Library Journal)

Holly Black. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

This eagerly anticipated novel (based on Black’s short story of the same name) bears little relation to the sparkle-infused vampire tales of the last decade. (Kirkus and School Library Journal)

Tony Cliff. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.

In Cliff’s swashbuckling print debut, a tea-loving Turkish janissary must choose his future path after his quiet life is turned upside down by an encounter with a brash adventuress. (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly)

Susan Cooper. Ghost Hawk.

Set in the 17th century, Coopers richly plotted historical fantasy links the lives of Little Hawk, a young member of the Pokanoket tribe, and John, a young English setter who grows up to be a friend to the native people. A near-epic novel filled with wonderfully realized and sympathetic characters. (Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

Ursula Dubosarsky. The Golden Day.

Eleven bored Australian schoolgirls keep a secret about the disappearance of their teacher until it begins to gnaw upon them, one by one. (Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

Janet Edwards. Earth Girl.

A disabled teen archaeologist works in fascinating, hazardous conditions on a far-future Earth. (Kirkus and Booklist)

Sally Gardner. Maggot Moon.

In an alternate 1956, a boy in a totalitarian state discovers that his government is staging a fake moon landing in a nearly warehouse and one of the astronauts has shown up in his cellar without a tongue. (Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

A.S. King. Reality Boy.

“Everybody’s so full of shit,” declares the epigraph of this heart-pounding and heartbreaking novel, setting the tone of the narrative: cynical, disappointed and slyly funny. (Kirkus, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly)

Robin LaFevers. Dark Triumph.

An assassin with a will of steel fights her way through deadly palace deceptions, sickening sexual servitude and baffling assignments from her convent, becoming a major player in Brittany’s 15th-century resistance of French occupation. (Kirkus and School Library Journal)

Nick Lake. Hostage Three.

Rich and standoffish Amy Fields, 17, is forced to confront her grief over her mother’s suicide when pirates commander her family’s yacht off the Somali coast. (Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal)

John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. March: Book One.

Eisner winner Powell’s dramatic black-and-white graphic art ratchets up the intensity in this autobiographical opener by a major figure in the civil rights movement. (Kirkus, Horn Book, School Library Journal)

Bennett Madison. September Girls. 

A meditation on manhood takes a turn into magical realism in this mesmerizing novel. (Kirkus and Booklist)

Tom McNeal. Far Far Away.

Studious Jeremy Johnson Johnson, whose best friend is the ghost of Jacob Grimm, and saucy Ginger Boultinghouse set out to discover why children are disappearing from the small town of Never Better.  (Booklist, Horn Book, School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly)

Meg Medina. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

A nuanced, heart-wrenching and ultimately empowering story about bullying. (Kirkus and School Library Journal)

Carrie Mesrobian. Sex & Violence.

An intelligent, wry 17-year-old is brutally beaten in a communal shower by two classmates after he hooks up with one of their former girlfriends, setting the stage for a difficult recovery.  (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly)

Jaclyn Moriarty. A Corner of White.

Another one of a kind from the inimitable Moriarty, this time, a barely epistolary fantasy series opener unlike anything else out there. (Kirkus, Horn Book and School Library Journal)

Walter Dean Myers. Darius & Twig.

A beautifully written story of friendship and the strength required to rise above limiting circumstances. (Kirkus and Booklist)

Patrick Ness. More Than This.

Seth, not yet 17, walks into the Pacific Ocean and ends his life. Or does he? (Kirkus and School Library Journal)

meg rosoff. Picture Me Gone.

Mila, 12, is something of a mentalist, and her talents are helpful when her fathers best friend goes missing. (Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor & Park.

Awkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha. (Kirkus, Horn Book, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and School Library Journal)

Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl.

Twins Cath and Wren write fan fiction for their favorite fantasy series,”Simon Snow.” Now in their first year of college, extrovert Wren is ready to leave the fantasy world – and possibly her sister – behind. (School Library Journal and Library Journal’s YA Lit for Adults list)

Aline Sax. The War Within These Walls.

The sights, sounds and smells of the Warsaw ghetto assail readers’ senses in a raw, brutal telling of the unimaginable horror of that time and that place. (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly)

Marcus Sedgwick. Midwinterblood.

The Time Traveler’s Wife meets Lost in this chilling exploration of love and memory. (Kirkus, Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

Andrew Smith. Winger.

A boarding school is the setting for life-changing experiences in this smart, wickedly funny work of realistic fiction from the author of The Marbury Lens (2010). (Kirkus, Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly)

Maggie Stiefvater. The Dream Thieves.

The second installment of Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle is as mind-blowingly spectacular as the first. (Kirkus and School Library Journal)

Elizabeth Wein. Rose Under Fire.

After a daring attempt to intercept a flying bomb, a young American pilot ferrying planes during World War II is captured by the Nazis in this companion to Printz Honorwinning Code Name Verity (2012). (Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal)

Gene Luen Yang. Boxers & Saints.

Printz Award winner Yang’s ambitious two-volume graphic novel follows the intertwined lives of two young people on opposite sides of the turn-of-the-20th-century Boxer Rebellion. (Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal and Library Journal’s YA Lit for Adults list)

Sara Zarr. The Lucy Variations.

Having publicly abandoned a promising piano career after her grandmother died while Lucy Beck-Moreau was a continent away preparing to perform, the 16-year-old struggles to figure out the place of music in her life apart from her family’s expectations. (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly)

About Sharon Rawlins

Sharon Rawlins is the Youth Services Specialist in Lifelong Learning at the New Jersey State Library. She's a children's and teen librarian responsible for providing consulting assistance to the youth services librarians in public and school libraries in NJ.