Friday, January 13, 2012

Favourite teen books of 2011

The twin's daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted - Seen via. The scene: Victorian London, the home of the prosperous Sexton family, with father Frederick, mother Aliese, and daughter Lucy. The action: Aliese's twin, the strange and somewhat mysterious Helen, who Lucy had never heard of, appears on the scene, and is taken in by the Sextons. The drama: Several years later, Lucy opens a door and finds one woman dead, the other collapsed. The surviving twin, supposedly Aliese, is acting strangely, prompting the question of whether her behaviour is due to shock and trauma, or guilt, or the fact that she might not be who she says she is. Chilling right through the whole book.

Strings attached by Judy Blundell - Not quite as good as 2009's What I saw and how I lied, but still great, in a spooky, suspenseful kind of way. Kit Corrigan leaves her boisterous Irish family, and her first love, in Providence, RI, to move to New York City, where she hopes to make it big as a star. New York in the 1940s has a hard shell that Kit soon finds difficult to crack; that is, until her boyfriend's father, Nate, turns up and offers to help her out. Nate's shady business dealings soon implicate Kit, who feels beholden to Nate for his help finding work. Meanwhile, her boyfriend has enlisted to go to Korea, and a violent crime is committed. Kit begins to uncover links between her family and Nate's that she might not really want to know about...

Beauty queens by Libba Bray - A plane full of aspiring beauty queens crashes on a desert island. The surviving girls rally to build shelter, find food, and if they are lucky, retrieve their make-up bags. They soon find, however, that the accidental crash may not be so accidental ... and someone may want to ensure that the crash doesn't have any survivors after all. A wonderful romp of a novel, full of humour and a spot-on analysis of feminine ideals and the beauty and modelling industries.

by Marthe Jocelyn - Ooooh, more delicious Victorian London! This novel by Canadian author Jocelyn (of picture book fame) features 15-year-old Mary, sent into service as a scullery maid by her wicked stepmother. Naive Mary soon falls for a young man, and it doesn't end well. Meanwhile, a young orphan struggles to find out where he comes from. Jocelyn is great setting the tone and atmosphere of dirty, desperate Londoners (um, if you're into that sort of thing).

Half brother
by Kenneth Oppel - Thirteen-year-old Ben is at first reluctant when his scientist parents explain that they are bringing home a baby chimpanzee for an experiment. They intend to raise Xan as a human, hoping to teach him to speak via sign language. At first, the experiment is a great successs, and Ben and Xan develop a strong rapport. Soon, though, discord runs through the family, with Ben and his mother both disagreeing with the stringent confines of the scientific methods employed by Ben's father. When Xan misbehaves one too many times, and the scientific community becomes uncomfortable, the project loses its funding and Xan’s place in the family is threatened. Oppel convincingly explores questions about scientific ethics, animal welfare, and what it means to be human in this incredibly complicated, and deeply moving, book.

Crossover appeal titles:
Book Of lies by Mary Horlock - Girl pushes her caustic best friend off a cliff - or does she? On the tiny island of Guernsey, everyone has a secret, and not everything is as it seems.

Previous lists: 2010, 2009, 2008.


  1. I was just noticing that I don't have any fiction on the go, and I sure do love YA novels. Thanks for the suggestions! I didn't know Kenneth Oppel had anything else new out, so I'll certainly be picking that up. (And sidenote: boy so I miss being around fiction books!).

    Ah, and another sidenote: congratulations on the new gig! I've been so behind in everything that I have only recently caught up on your big move! You'll be excellent, and the new branch is lucky to have you!