Best New Young Adult Books of 2012
Looking for the best Young Adult books of 2012?
Over the past few years, the young adult book market has had a huge resurgence. The incredible popularity of Harry Potter made it okay for both children and adults to read young adult books. As an added bonus, a lot of these new books are really good! So whether you are looking for the latest dystopian novel for young adults, or realistic fiction for teens, this is the list for you.
One of the most popular young adult books this year is Wonder by RJ Palacio. It's actually for tweens instead of teenagers, but the story of a 5th grade boy with a facial deformity will resonate with all age groups. The book starts with the boy Auggie's perspective, but widens to show us the events through the eyes of other people in the community as well. It's on every Best Book of the Year for kids list. If you haven't read it yet, pick it up. You won't regret it.
The Fault in Our Stars
One of the best new Young Adult writers in the last few years is John Green. His latest work, The Fault in Our Stars is one of his most heartbreaking. Sixteen year old Hazel has thyroid cancer and suffers from depression. She meets Augustus at a support group for cancer survivors and they fall in love. It's sad but beautiful. Over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon can't be wrong.
It also has become a best-selling movie that you will want to see, but take your tissues!
Once you've finished that, you'll want to read Green's award-winning Looking For Alaska.
Terry Pratchett is an extremely prolific writer of adult novels, but with Dodger he has moved into the world of young adult literature. Dodger tells the story of a street urchin in Victorian times, who meets everyone from Sweeney Todd to Charles Dickens. It's currently one of the best-selling historical fiction books for teens, and with good reason. Dodger witnesses a girl trying to escape from a carriage passing by, and he steps in to help. This starts him on an adventure through the streets of London.
Pratchett, is known for his absurdity and humor in his well-known Discworld Novels, and this irreverence serves him well in Victorian England. If you enjoyed Dodger, there are a ton of other book to read by Pratchett; start with The Color of Magic. This will introduce you to his well-constructed Discworld, the start of that series. You won't be able to put them down.
Reached (Matched Book Trilogy)
Quite a few of the newest young adult novels are set in dystopian societies. It's a theme that particularly resonates with teenagers, who often feel out of place in their world. There are some great series that have concluded this year. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie is one of these. This year we finally got to the end of Cassie's story with Reached. Cassie lives in a world where people are paired off by decree.
The Matched ceremony, which everyone looks forward to with nervousness and excitement, reveals who each teenager will be married to. The Society matches people based on their personalities, but Cassie's story is different. In Matched, Cassie is given the name of the boy she is to marry, but there is a flashed picture of another boy as well.
The first book deals with her trying to decide which boy is right for her. In the second book, she has made her decision but must risk everything to find him. The final book of the trilogy deals with the larger issue -- having a choice. She is about to start a revolution.
Lois Lowry's quartet is an interesting mix of stories. It only became clear in the third book of the Giver quartet, Messenger, how these books intertwined.
The first book in this series, The Giver, is one of the most well-known young adult books of recent years. It tells the story of a boy who is chosen to receive the memories of his society, and what he chooses to do with that dark information.
Now, at long last, we have Son, the final book in the quartet. Like all her books, this one is definitely worth picking up. And don't forget to see the movie of The Giver when it comes out!
Insurgent (Divergent series)
At the end of Divergent, Veronica Roth's first novel in the Divergent series, Tris Prior had picked her Dauntless (bravery) as her Faction and realized there was a war coming. With the help of her brother in Erudite (intelligence), she is trying to find a way to keep the world around her from being destroyed.
Roth's dystopian Chicago breaks people into 5 different factions with one overriding purpose. As teenagers, they are required to choose one path for themselves. However, there are people who are actually Divergent, meaning they could belong to one of many factions. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, in the middle of a brewing and violent war.
This second book adds depth to the war and many of the characters, and the second half has secret upon secret being revealed. You won't be able to wait for the last installment.
These books are more violent than a lot of YA books; in the first one, Tris is forced to kill one of her best friends, and she walks around most of the novel bloodied up in various ways. It's as violent as The Hunger Games Trilogy, so if that's not your scene, you should probably steer clear of these.
Finally, one more dystopian novel for the year. Cinder is a new young adult novel that came out in 2012. It's a re-telling of the Cinderella story. In this case, Cinder is a cyborg - a robot who looks like a human. She is treated horribly by her stepmother, and she has two stepsisters. It diverges here, because one of the stepsisters is a great friend and solace to Cinder. Life turns bad for Cinder when her stepsister is diagnosed with a plague and taken away.
Cinder's story is complicated by the presence of the handsome royal prince, who takes an interest in her (not knowing she is made up of cyborg parts). The prince's story intertwines with her -- he is being forced to marry a Lunar princess who has hypnotic powers.
I wasn't particularly surprised by the "surprise" at the end, but it was still a welcome plotline, and will definitely pick up Scarlet when it comes out in 2013.
Some additional resources for young adult books
There's so much information out there on young adult books, it can be a little overwhelming. Here are some of my favorite resources.
- Best Young Adult Books (5011 books)
List of best young adult books from Goodreads
- Best Books for Young Adults | Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
The Best Books for Young Adults Lists from 1996 to the present along with information on the list policies and procedures and nomination form.
- Flavorwire: The 10 Best Young Adult Books for Grownups
Flavorwire: Cultural news and critique from Flavorpill
- The 6 best young adult novels - for adults - books - TODAY.com
Teen moms? Killer kids? 6 best young adult novels - for adults From 'Sweet Valley High' to 'Hunger Games,' see which books make great summer reads
These are just a few of the wonderful young adult books out there right now. I'm sure I will be updating this as I read more, but for now, what are your suggestions? What am I missing here? What should be next in my queue?