Post-apocalyptic dystopias, historical dramas, steampunk adventures, magical mob sagas – nobody could ever accuse Young Adult fiction of being boring or lacking diversity, which is precisely why our Young Adult Specialists have had such a fun time picking 2011’s best YA titles. It hasn’t been easy choosing only ten from all the wonderful titles out there, but it does mean that this final list is the cream of the crop. Check out any of the books on this list and you’ll see they appeal not just to teens, but to anyone who is in search of a fantastic read.
A Monster Calls
This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. 'A Monster Calls is simply breathtaking. You’ll pick it up and keep reading it until the last page, and even then it will stay with you for a long time afterwards.' - Review by Holly Harper, Readings Carlton.
The Name of the Star
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realised his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth – he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything – or anyone – into something else.
'Once you delve into Cassel’s morally ambiguous world you won’t be able to leave it. A wonderfully dark, twisty, subtle coming-of-age story.' - Review by Marie Matteson, Readings Port Melbourne.
(released Nov 28)
'Legend is set in a futuristic Los Angeles, a decimated urban shell full of half-destroyed office blocks and high rise car parks, and giant TV screens blaring a never ending stream of propaganda. An evocative portrait of a dirty decaying city rife with poverty and violence and militarism is the setting for a game of cat and mouse between the two 15-year-old protagonists Day, the republics most wanted fugitive, and June, a child prodigy and military cadet sent to hunt Day down... If you enjoyed The Hunger Games you will enjoy Legend.' - Review by Marie Matteson, Readings Port Melbourne.
Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant, maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath. It can end the war. But whose side is the inventor really on?
'This fantastic series successfully melds speculative history and science into a wonderfully realised historical world of intrigue and adventure, beautifully illustrated by Keith Thompson.' - Review by Marie Matteson, Readings Port Melbourne.
Marianne de Pierres
Retra doesn't want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night. Retra is a Seal - sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn't crave parties and pleasure like all the others. But her brother left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him.
'Burn Bright introduces one of the most exciting worlds I’ve encountered since Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, or Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn, and it will surely appeal to fans of both.' - Review by Holly Harper, Readings Carlton.
All I Ever Wanted
Mim knows what she wants, and where she wants to go - anywhere but home, stuck in the suburbs with her mother who won’t get off the couch, and two brothers in prison. She’s set herself rules to live by, but she’s starting to break them.
'I could almost feel the boredom and wilting heat and madness and ugliness of Australian suburbia wafting off the pages! All I Ever Wanted is an entertaining, touching, pitch-perfect and darkly funny read.' - Review by Leanne Hall, Readings Carlton.
Smoke and Bone
In the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
'I'm not going to say what happens because I am so excited about the next book that I’m too afraid of giving away something that must unfold naturally in this one. And to be perfectly honest I have to agree with the line on the back of the book from Patrick Rothfuss, "Wow. I wish I had written this book." - Review by Kate Rockstrom, Readings Carlton.
Act of Faith
Isabella, the daughter of a leading dissident writer in Cromwell’s England, is forced to take refuge in Amsterdam where she finds work with a printer, a colleague of her father’s. When Master de Aquila travels to Venice looking to publish his daring new book, she and his assistant Will go with him. A compelling story, wonderfully evocative of era and place, but unnervingly relevant to our times.
The City is divided. The bridges gated. In Southside, the hostiles live in squalor and desperation, waiting for a chance to overrun the residents of Cityside.
'It’s easy to see why The Bridge was chosen as the winner of the 2010 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. It is an intelligent, complex and gripping book that reminded me in parts of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy.' - Review by Leanne Hall, Readings Carlton.
Other 'best of 2011' lists:
- the best DVDs of 2011
- the best covers of 2011
- the best titles of 2011
- the best overlooked books of 2011
- the best short story collections of 2011
- the best classical music of 2011
- the best foreign/translated fiction of 2011
- the best crime fiction of 2011
Holly Harper is a children’s bookseller at Readings Carlton where she organises the kids and Young Adult e-newsletters. She also writes books for younger readers under the name H.J. Harper. Find out more about her Star League series and other books here and follow her on twitter - @hj_harper.
Leanne Hall is a children’s bookseller at Readings Carlton, and a writer of young adult fiction. Her novel This Is Shyness won the Text Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Writing. She blogs at the longblinks.com and you can follow her on twitter - @lilymandarin.
Kate Rockstrom is a Classical Specialist at Readings Carlton. She regularly performs as a flautist as well as writing about music and books, follow her at www.stonestream.net.